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January 19, 2006

American Dummitude: The End Of Western Civilization?

On a brilliant September morning in 2001, four planes hurtled out of an azure sky and caused the world to tilt on its axis. The shock of their impact is still felt halfway around the globe.

It has become fashionable (or perhaps merely convenient) to forget the unity America displayed in those early days. But when George Bush stood atop that pile of smoking rubble and vowed the terrorists would shortly hear from us, he had the backing of both parties in Congress. The Patriot Act passed 357–66 in the House and 98–1 in the Senate.

The Joint Authorization to Use Force passed 77-23.

And then the Great Unravelling began. In that strange alchemy peculiar to comfortable societies, the anxiety of those hushed September days was soon replaced by another fear. The real enemy, you see, was never Osama bin Laden. It wasn't radical Islamism, or terrorism, which all right-thinking people know is the only response available to impoverished, poorly-educated young Arab men who rightly resent U.S. meddling in their little corner of the world. That this theory is patently false does not matter. It is so comforting, you see. It takes a complex problem requiring risky action and makes it simple. If we just retreat and place our heads firmly in the sand, the sun will shine once more.

No need to take a stand. No troublesome idealism. No chance for further loss of life.

Never mind that Saddam had pledged to destroy us (and Israel, for that matter). No matter that he twice invaded his neighbors; twice used WMDs. Ignore the numerous contradictions to claims his aggressiveness was contained by 12 years of UN sanctions: the 1993 assassination attempt on Bush I in Kuwait, his complicity in the 1993 attack on the WTC, his continued, open sponsorship of known terrorists (including Abu Nidal, who killed several Americans), Oil-for-Terror. All accomplished under the comforting auspices of international consensus. Right under our noses.

Through the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, amid anguished cries of “Why do they hate us?” and calls to establish a dialogue with the terrorists, George Bush strode like a colossus. Unshakable in his resolve, he single-handedly steered a course for the future; assembling a coalition of western nations against the crescent moon rising in the east, going to the United Nations and wresting a unanimous resolution against Hussein’s regime that, sadly, turned out not to be worth the paper it was written on. Even most of his enemies now grant it was his finest moment. But in standing tall, he had broken the cardinal rule in Washington: never take an unequivocal stand. He handed his opponents the knife they would later use against him. For the true Enemy was now revealed: it was not the terrorists who threatened America.

It was George Bush.

hi015.gif We all know what happens to giants. They must be brought down. The threat they pose is obvious; they are a mirror in which our own images are dimly reflected, and we do not much care for what we see reflected there. We feel rather small and mean by comparison.

One of the most fascinating things to fall out of the global war on terrorism has been the impulse of Western Civilization to go picnicking on itself: the endless carping, the analysis of a never-ending parade of “experts”, each of whom has a better idea for how things should have been done, the us-vs-them comparisons, the self-indulgent navel gazing of pundits with far too much time on their hands. Like our European brethren across the pond, America seems to be acquiring an endless appetite for the kind of pointless angst that can only end in moral paralysis.

What seems in increasingly short supply is resolve.

Strange, then, that with all the comparisons of western to Muslim society, I have not seen this point made. It came to me last weekend like a thunderbolt. We are locked, West and East, in a titanic battle. Two diametrically-opposed societies, one shuttered; to our way of thinking mired in the past, hedged about with rules and restrictions on behavior that are unthinkable to those used to the almost unlimited freedom we enjoy here in the West. And we are an open society with all the ills that entails. Casual sex and profanity, drugs and unwed mothers abound, divorce and AIDS are endemic; but also women go to college and gays are not stoned in the streets. Speech is protected and elections are free. Businesses prosper and the Third World clamors at our borders, eager to share in the almost obscene abundance.

Mirror images. We hasten to condemn the East. We deplore the log in our brother’s eye, yet leap over the looming beam in our own. The Muslim world has been rightly condemned for its intolerance, and nowhere is this clearer than in the practice of Dhimmitude:

Dhimmitude is the status that Islamic law, the Sharia, mandates for non-Muslims, primarily Jews and Christians. Dhimmis, "protected people," are free to practice their religion in a Sharia regime, but are made subject to a number of humiliating regulations designed to enforce the Qur'an's command that they "feel themselves subdued".

The West has its cross to bear; its own brand of intolerance. Only the targets we single out for “chastened subservience” are not the weak but the strong; whether by force of personality, intellect, or numbers. This uniquely democratic version of intolerance can only exist in a free society where the the irrational voice of the minority can be brought to bear against the majority, delegitimizing (in retrospect) decisions made legitimately, endlessly questioning every foreign policy decision, every vote of Congress, every election, every move made by those in power. This foolish and destructive form of intolerance is no less corrosive than the Dhimmitude of the Muslim world; for it chokes off honest debate, encourages secrecy where there should be openness, and discourages the kind of visionary leadership that made America a great nation.

Great ideas, by their very nature, arouse opposition. The Muslim world shows the harsh face of intolerance to outsiders (Dhimmitude). They are not among the faithful. The right-thinkers. The chosen of Allah. In the judgment of righteous Muslims, they deserve the treatment they receive.

In our zeal to avoid the mistakes of the East, we bend over backwards to keep 'open minds'. Religion is the root of all Evil, we think. Religion, and Authority: how we love to question them. And so we view those in power: leaders, or even the simple majority among us who still believe in a Creator - the ultimate insiders - with suspicion. They too, in our estimation, merit whatever ill treatment they receive at the hands of the madding crowd. Or at the least, we sanction the kind of intolerance against them that would be unacceptable if used against a "weaker" opponent. Their status is viewed as some sort of offense against perfect egalitarianism. But is this wise?

Western society's great weakness is that we, whether through over-sensitivity, a desire to be "fair", or sheer complacency, turn a blind eye as vocal and disaffected minorities practice intolerance (ostensibly the one unpardonable sin of Western society) towards the most able among us, forgetting that from religion (our Judeo-Christian heritage, to be exact) came the very freedoms we enjoy today. This results, at times, in a virtual tyranny of the minority that is the very opposite of democracy. We allow a vocal minority to actively subvert the segment of our society that chooses and makes up our government and determines the course this nation takes.

It is hard to imagine behavior more antithetical to western values or more likely to result, ultimately, in the death of the freedoms we hold dear and the destruction of western society. I call this phenomenon, Dummitude.

The advocates of Dummitude are everywhere: in our public schools, in Congress, on the Internet. Their goal is to gain through constant carping and criticism what they cannot at the ballot box. Ostensibly preaching openness, choice, and tolerance, they aim to impose a cramping conformity of thought and uniformity of ideology. "Tolerance", "inclusiveness", and moral purity are their weapons; these concepts are ironically used to enforce ends diametrically opposed to the means.

In the public school arena, school vouchers must be eliminated because they might give some children a better chance to succeed than others and we don’t want our tax dollars promoting too much success in America, do we? Success is so inherently undemocratic. It isn't inclusive enough. If everyone can’t succeed in life, it’s better to level the playing field – even if in so doing we manage to level a few of the players. That they are being intolerant of those who wish to succeed (or depriving them of choices) doesn't seem to occur to the Dummitudinous.

But the relentless ankle-biting doesn’t end there. Perhaps the defining feature of Dummitude is the “zero tolerance” mentality that makes it so easy to criticize authority. No course of action is proof against this unrealistic standard, as Michael Kinsley observes:

Most of us are not Patrick Henry and would be willing to lose a great deal of freedom in order to save our lives. This is especially true when the freedom in question is that of foreigners with funny names, but it is true of our own freedom as well. It's not even necessarily deplorable. Giving up a certain amount of freedom in exchange for the safety and comfort of civilized society is what government is all about, according to guys like Hobbes and Locke, who influenced the Founding Fathers. And that's good government. Many people live under bad governments that take away more freedom than necessary and choose not to become heroes. That is not a contemptible choice, especially if we're talking France, or maybe even China, and not Stalin's Russia or Hitler's Germany. The notion that freedom is indivisible—if you lose a little, you have lost it all; if one person is deprived of liberty, then we all are—is sweet, and useful for indoctrinating children. But it just isn't true.

The current debate about government wiretapping of U.S. citizens inside the United States as part of the war on terrorism, like the debate before it about the torture of terror suspects, and the debate before that one about U.S. government prison camps at Guantanamo and in Eastern Europe, are all framed as arguments about the divisibility of freedom. They are framed that way by the good guys—meaning, of course, the side I agree with, which is the side of the civil libertarians who oppose these measures. That is part of why the good guys are losing. The arguments all seem to pit hard practicality on one side against sentiment, if not empty sentimentality, on the other. There are the folks who are fighting a war to protect us from a terrible enemy, and there are the folks getting in their way with a lot of fruity abstractions. You can note all you want the irony of the government trampling American values in the name of protecting them (yes, yes, like destroying that village in Vietnam in order to save it). The hard men and hard woman who are prosecuting this war for the Bush administration can turn that point, rather effectively, on its head. If the cost of losing the war and the cost of winning it are both measured in the same currency—American values, especially freedom—then giving up some freedom in order to avoid losing all of it is obviously the right thing to do.


But for the advocates of Dummitude, the baby is always thrown out with the bathwater. If we can't have all our freedoms, life (apparently) is no longer worth living. The random thought that an evening of rousing phone conversation with Abu Musab al Zarqawi (sans NSA wiretaps) is of little value to a smoking corpse never quite seems to enter the mind of the moral absolutist.

Likewise, in the the bizarre value system of the Dummitudinous, Abu Ghuraib and rumors of hidden CIA detention camps outweigh millions of Arab purple fingers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis buried in mass graves. The democratic stirrings in Lebanon and Egypt do not signify. No rational cost/benefit analysis informs their moral calculus: America cannot make a single mistake or all the good we have done is wiped out.

In an even more tenuous argument, the war itself was justified but since the administration failed to foresee every contingency that ensued, “poor management” has now caused those who formerly supported it to withdraw their support.

When in all of history was a war perfectly prosecuted? By the argument of the Dummitudinous, World Wars I and II were morally bankrupt conflicts. The internment of German and Japanese citizens by FDR delegitimized our participation in WWII. If only we had allowed Hitler to exterminate those annoying Jews – just think of all the trouble we could have avoided! No Israel. No MidEast crisis with the Palestinians. In retrospect, the Dummitudinous were right. No price was too great to pay (so long as others were led to the ovens) so long as our hands remained clean.

And if the internment camps weren't enough, the slaughter that was D-Day surely invalidated that war as well. Talk about your debacles. Was victory “worth” it? Why were we even in Europe anyway? It was the Japanese who attacked us, not the Germans. Why didn’t we go after Tojo instead of Hitler?

But Dummitude cannot accept imperfection, even in a messy business like war. It cannot accept even limited casualties in a limited war. Enter Hillary Clinton, who is outraged that our fighting men are not outfitted like Imperial Stormtroopers in the 125 degree heat of the Arabian desert. How many soldiers did she ask before she charged up Capitol Hill, alone and without a clue?

Most studies recommend that a soldier should not be burdened with more than one-third of his body weight. But if you take a 160-pound soldier and put 40 pounds of Kevlar and body armor on him and then he picks up an automatic weapon, ammunition, water and first aid equipment, it's not long before he is carrying half his body weight - and he is then expected to run, jump and fight insurgents, themselves carrying little more than a 10-pound AK-47. All of this, of course, often takes place in 120-degree heat in the cities of Iraq.

Lost among the politicians' cries for more extensive armor for the troops is the fact that most soldiers, in my experience and based on discussions with many, feel they have enough armor already - and many feel they are increasingly being burdened with too much equipment. And the new supplementary body armor unveiled this week in Washington doubles the weight of the equipment - worn over the torso and, now, the upper arms - to 32 pounds from 16 pounds (for a medium-sized soldier).

While an Army spokesman said yesterday that the new equipment was developed based on feedback from units in the field - and certainly, he assured me, not from any political pressure - the statements from soldiers in Iraq tell a different story.

An article last week from The Associated Press noted that "soldiers in the field were not all supportive of a Pentagon study that found improved body armor saves lives" and that some argued "that more armor would hinder combat effectiveness."

As an Army captain told The A.P.: "You've got to sacrifice some protection for mobility. If you cover your entire body in ceramic plates, you're just not going to be able to move."


But you see, the debate isn't about what's sensible or practical. It's about having a war with zero mistakes. Zero casualties. A perfect war where no one is ever sad, the sun shines every day, and all our soldiers are above-average. That kind of war doesn't exist. But you see Hillary really cares about our troops, unlike George Bush.

There's just one problem with this type of thinking. Like the overprotective mother who won't let her child go outside until he's wrapped in twelve layers of clothing, all this overprotection is not just confining. It's downright immobilizing. Like the soldier weighed down by 40 extra pounds of body armor or the world leader whose decisions aren't viewed as "legitimate" unless he has unanimous international consensus, bilateral agreement in Congress, and 90 percent public approval ratings from the American people, the end product is either paralysis or a watered-down course of action that, by offending no one, just defers pressing problems to future generations.

As we in the West obsess over hurt feelings and natter on about the loss of the smallest part of our precious liberties, our enemies display no such lack of resolve:

Al Qaeda thrived in Afghanistan when the Taliban leader, Mohammad Omar, was called "Commander of the Faithful," a caliphic title. In his book published online shortly after Sept. 11, bin Laden's deputy, Ayman Zawahiri, declared that terror attacks would "be nothing more than disturbing acts, regardless of their magnitude" unless they led to a caliphate in the "heart of the Islamic world."
The advocates of Dummitude seem determined to impose their will on America by fomenting dissention and unrest. In this, they are fulfilling al Qaeda's grand strategy to "vex and annoy" western society, which they view as weak and incapable of sustaining resolve.

If we had any shame, the words of Osama bin Laden would still be ringing in our ears:

... when tens of your solders were killed in minor battles and one American Pilot was dragged in the streets of Mogadishu you left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you. Clinton appeared in front of the whole world threatening and promising revenge, but these threats were merely a preparation for withdrawal.

You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew; the extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear. It was a pleasure for the "heart" of every Muslim and a remedy to the "chests" of believing nations to see you defeated in the three Islamic cities of Beirut, Aden and Mogadishu.


Looking at the recent words of Senators Murtha, Kerry, Kennedy, and Pelosi, it would appear the enemy knows us better than we know ourselves. In the 1990's we recognized the threat Iraq posed to our security. Having passed a law in 1998 calling for regime change, we took no steps to make that resolve a reality.

Even today, the Dummitudinous among us continue to argue that the war in Iraq diverts our attention from the looming threat in Iran. What in our history suggests we could summon the national will to take decisive action against Iran:

It's easy to forget that the resolution authorizing force to kick Saddam out of Kuwait barely passed Congress. It's easy to forget that Iraq had passed frequent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections designed to ensure its compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or that its Manhattan Project-sized nuclear program went undetected by US intelligence. It's also easy to forget just how skilled Saddam became at deception post-Osirak.

Despite repeated warnings and Saddam’s own public statements, Western experts consistently underestimated Iraq’s scientific and technical capabilities. Inspection officials now believe Iraq was only 12 to 18 months from producing its first bomb, not five to 10 years as previously thought.

Iraq invaded another country and we barely summoned the votes to respond. The Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan-authored law resolving that Saddam needed to go in 1998, yet Democrats are still arguing over whether deposing him was "the right thing to do".

Iran has not invaded any of its neighbors. It has not tried to assassinate one of our Presidents. It has not abetted a terrorist attack on our soil. It has not used WMDs. It does not have a 12-year history of violating UN sanctions. Yet the Dummitudinous somehow argue the Iraq war is 'diverting valuable resources' away from the Iranian threat (the exact same threat that Iraq posed for over twelve years, yet we did not attack Iraq solely based on the threat of nuclear weapons). What resources?

In what universe do they think we would ever summon the will to respond militarily to Iran? In the unlikely event we did manage to achieve consensus on such a momentous decision, the Dummitudinous would be the first to begin unravelling it at the corners.

Dummitude will be the ruin of us yet. The good news is that our feelings will be safe, right up until the very end.

Posted by Cassandra at January 19, 2006 02:21 PM

Comments

Does this outstanding read mean you are back?

Posted by: Crckt [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 19, 2006 04:15 PM

Yes, Cricket :)

Posted by: Cassandra [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 19, 2006 04:31 PM

Wooooooooo hoooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: William Teach [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 19, 2006 06:58 PM

Good job, Cass. :)

Posted by: TigerHawk [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 19, 2006 10:42 PM

All right, you! I'm supposed to be in bed sleeping but I read this on my PDA and couldn't comment. So I am up and coughing my head off because this is worth it. :-)

This was utterly perfect. I'm emailing this link with a teaser to all of my non-bloggish people in my address book! (Thanks, Mac, for posting the link.)

Posted by: Beth [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 19, 2006 11:25 PM

You hit this outta da park, Cass!

Posted by: MathMom [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 19, 2006 11:38 PM

Gosh, I never knew I was such a threat to my own way of life.

"George Bush strode like a colossus"

I'm glad you've found a hero, Cass. That must be comforting.

As a democrat who loves his country, I'd like to fill you in on a few things I stand for, even if it doesn't quite fit into the above rhetorical firebreathing.

I believe that all people have the potential for greatness. I believe that compassion is central to any successful civilization. I believe that I have a responsibility to my fellow (hu)man. I believe that equal opportunity is acheivable. I believe that the rule of law allows for civilized society. I believe that education is a civil right. I believe that health care is a civil liberty.

I believe that, in order to defeat the specter of terrorism as embodied by Al Qaeda, we must adhere more closely to the ideals on which we were founded - liberty, individualism, and the sense that we're all in this together.

If I'm part of a vocal minority, so are you. To claim your majority status while the colossus stands at 39% approval rating seems absurd. Patently absurd. When the world, who stood with us like never before in the days following 9/11, now stand appalled at the American government's willingness to resolutely ignore them unless they wholeheartedly jump onto the Bush bandwagon, then I wonder what majority you think you're in.

I think that the majority, yourself included, want peace. I don't think anyone thinks lovingly of war, except for the leaders who, despite never having served, are eager to seek military solutions. Their tortured logic too often includes burning the village in order to save it.

You think we're in a new kind of war. I think we're in a global struggle against criminals who have ambitions to be warriors. You want to wage war to protect an American Way of Life, yet you hold over half the nation in contempt for not agreeing with you.

Oh here I am going off on you during my first visit to your blog. Where are my manners?

I would ask that you not vilify me. I am not the enemy. Al Qaeda is the enemy. George W. Bush is the incompetent boob who keeps finding new ways to rally support for the enemy. His strategy is not to win a war, but to perpetuate it long enough to fulfill a series of political ambitions.

Again, I am not the enemy. Stop it already. You carp about we liberals without once suggesting that any of our concerns might be valid. I accept that your opinions are based in fear and that that fear is rational. Accept that my opinions are rooted in hope and that that hope is rational as well.

Then maybe we can create a majority together.

Posted by: Screwy Hoolie [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 19, 2006 11:44 PM

"When the world, who stood with us like never before in the days following 9/11"

BS. The world was never with us. The sympathy that was directed to America was directed at America the Victim, not America the Superpower which was going to ensure it didn't happen again.

" I think we're in a global struggle against criminals who have ambitions to be warriors."

Criminals? You apparently haven't realized that this isn't the Cold War. THE WORLD HAS CHANGED. The notion of WAR has changed. That may not be an easy thing to accept, but this is the 21st century. The Islamists aren't out to rob a bank, or go on some crazy killing spree because they are psychotic. They intend to take over the world. There are nations which are less organized that some terror groups. Trying to deal with them as criminals has been proven to be a grave mistake. Yet you intend to repeat it over and over.

Posted by: Final Historian [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 20, 2006 01:41 AM

Beth:

Go back to sleep! I think this was enough words to put anyone into a coma for about a thousand years...

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz :)

I hope you feel better soon.

Posted by: Cassandra [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 20, 2006 04:35 AM

I think those Lilliputians are an excellent analogue for the small-minded Dumb-ocrats...

Welcome back!!!

Posted by: camojack [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 20, 2006 05:05 AM

I would ask that you not vilify me. I am not the enemy. Al Qaeda is the enemy. George W. Bush is the incompetent boob who keeps finding new ways to rally support for the enemy. His strategy is not to win a war, but to perpetuate it long enough to fulfill a series of political ambitions.

Screwy Hoolie -

I think that any incompetent boob who can oversee the liberation of 50 million people and plant the first seeds of democracy in 5000 years is my kind of imcompetent boob!

In 50 years, Dubya will be held in the same regard as Abraham Lincoln. Heck, if you pull a book out of the library which shows the political cartoons drawn about Lincoln, they even portray him as an ape! Chimpy McBushHitlerBurton is in great company.

Posted by: MathMom [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 20, 2006 08:59 AM

That’s odd, I saw Bush as half tough and half dhimmi. Since you covered the tough side, let me list the dhimmi side:

- Bush lied: “Islam means peace.”

- He immediately appeased Arafat by being the 1st President to support Palestinian statehood.

- He said Arafat wasn’t a terrorist but a leader of his people.

- His first action after 9/11: drop food behind enemy lies in Afghanistan.

- He supports the Saudi clan that funds the hate movement.

- He apologized to Mubarak for Abu Graib.

- He puts pressure on Sharon to give unilateral concessions.

- He continually expresses love for the enemy’s ideology: Islam.

- It took 200 deaths to take down Saddam but 2000 more to try and win the “hearts and minds” by building a model society for an enemy that will continue to hate our guts.

- He sends Karen Hughes to grovel for love in the Arab world.

- He gives Pakistan war planes.

- We didn’t stop WWII to build democracy in Italy. Why are we stalled in Iraq?

- We currently pressure Iraqi Shiites to appease, “Oslo style,” Sunni jihadists.

That’s dhimmi. Ask yourself if FDR would have fought the Nazis that way. Sure, Bush is better than Kerry but we need to hold the bar higher. Much higher! If he only gets criticism from the left for being too tough and none from those of us on the right that thinks he’s too weak, he’ll compromise in one direction, only. Call it tough love, but let’s demand more.

Posted by: JasonP [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 20, 2006 09:22 AM

Well put, MathMom. ;-)

And sorry, Hoolie, you may have good intentions, but the reality is that people like you DO put you firmly in the camp of the enemy--EVEN IF you don't mean it that way.

I don't think anyone thinks lovingly of war, except for the leaders who, despite never having served, are eager to seek military solutions.

See, there's your fundamental error. It shows your BDS, your actual belief in the idea that anyone is "eager to seek military solutions."

I accept that your opinions are based in fear and that that fear is rational. Accept that my opinions are rooted in hope and that that hope is rational as well.

Well, if you ask me (who DID serve, but it makes me no more of a foreign policy analyst than, well, anyone else)...your belief in "despite never having served, are eager to seek military solutions" sounds like your opinions are actually NOT based in hope (nice touch there), but rather, in the vilification of your opponent without any sense of rational thought behind it.

Call it "fear" if it helps you justify your own opinions all you want. Fine. But this:

I believe that, in order to defeat the specter of terrorism as embodied by Al Qaeda, we must adhere more closely to the ideals on which we were founded - liberty, individualism, and the sense that we're all in this together.

...is not "hope," it's FANTASY. Let's all just believe in ideals, and Al Qaeda will quit. Our "belief" in our ideals on September 10th, did they? Yeah! We're not afraid of you! We're free! Take your best shot, we're invincible (except for all those infid--I mean non-believers)!

Sorry, but standing around with one's thumb ensconced up one's ass pondering the greatness of our Constitution isn't really terribly effective when there are real LIVE people all over the world AND withing our own borders who want to replace that Infidel Constitution with one of their own, and one that resembles ours in no way whatsoever.


Posted by: Beth [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 20, 2006 09:39 AM

Screwy;

I typed up a big long response last night but my own comment spam blocker won't let me post it for some reason. I have no idea why. I will try to break it into chunks and figure out the problem. I can't get into the log to see the problem.

Posted by: Cassandra [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 20, 2006 09:54 AM

Oh, my dear Cassandra, this has made my week! I can't tell you how giddy I am that you're blogging again!!! And to start with such a solid post ... I'm in heaven.

Please, oh please, do not let the unwashed masses (i.e., those who do not know how to maintain a civil discourse) drive you into hiding again.

Please.

Posted by: Robbie [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 20, 2006 10:08 AM

Robbie, you are too kind. I didn't come back for a long time because I wanted to be sure.

And to be honest I'm a bit in shock. I kind of expected a few weeks of quiet before anyone figured out I was back. But since I missed everyone, this is very nice too. Full speed ahead, I guess :)

But slower, this time. Much, much slower.

Posted by: Cassandra [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 20, 2006 10:21 AM

Screwy,
Cass addresses one of the breast beating mea culpas of the liberal mind set: "Why do they hate us so?" Liberals have done nothing but use their concerns masked as feelings to address issues.

FWIW, the American Way of Life is WORTH preserving. You think gays and lesbians will live free to persue their right to happiness if we tolerate Wahhabism and those who perpetrate it?
And since liberals think that profiling is being too culturally insensitive, warrantless eavesdropping is the next logical step.

I do not hate nor fear my Muslim neighbors in America. America has been good to them. Many of them have assimilated the best of our culture and preserved their ability to practice their religion.

However, that doesn't mean that attempts will be made by wahhabist groups that have infiltrated
here to terrorize their own into actions against America here and abroad.

The West Germans couldn't get rid of the Red Army Faction or other groups partly because of their going to the other extreme in refusing to profile Muslim terrorists. They were knee jerking as a result of their guilt over the Holocaust.

I hope you never have to check your car for bombs or have to be prepared to leave with nothing but the clothes on your back and what little cash you may have on hand.

I had to live like that for three years because of the refusal to profile.

You live in safety because someone is on watch 24/7.

Posted by: Crckt [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 20, 2006 10:27 AM

I hope this doesn't mean you're signing out of Tigerhawk.

Screwy - you're here too? Screwy - I think you are wrong all the bleeping time. Incredibly, foolishly wrong. But I will defend your right to be wrong and spout your foolishness. I'll just be there every step of the way to disagree is all.

What is intolerable is breaking the law, and leaking classified information, and endangering or demoralizing our troops, with a political agenda. I want people who do that to be prosecuted. Full stop.

As for the notion that the Bush administration is incompetent, you have no factual basis upon which to make the claim other than BDS. You may disagree with policies and decisions taken. But claming incompetence is just thoroughly and completely wrong.

The Bush Admin was in charge when attacked, and has prosecuted 2 wars successfully to victory. 50mm people liberated, and fewer soldiers lost than in any comparable military endeavor in global history.

The Bush Administration came into power shortly after the US equity markets declined in a fashion reminiscint only of 1929. That, coupled with an incipient economic slowdown brought on by Fed rate increases and a costly terror attack, brought on a recession.

As a consequence of unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus, the US avoided a protracted recession and significant unemployment. All things considered...a blip. Especially when compared to the shocks the economy was dealt.

Results count, and they have been stellar.

I recall quite vividly the same stupid, self centered, venal remarks emanating from the left when Reagan was in power. Instead of detente, Reagan called the Soviets an evil empire, ramped up defense spending, and put Pershing missiles in Europe -- all to the great dismay of the US left, the MSM, the European left, pacifists, socialists, etc. He urged Mr. Gorbachev to "tear down this Wall," an unthinkable notion when his Presidency began. And shortly after it ended, the Soviet Union was GONE.

It was extraordinary that upon his death in 2004, Reagan was heroically eulogized by the same press which called him an idiot, corrupt, a religious zealot, an actor delivering lines - the same type of name calling hurled at GWB today. Does that sound familiar Screwy? It's the same.

So Cass, that's the good news. The Dummitude you refer to exists today, it existed than, it's always existed. There were Tories during the Revolutionary War. There was the South during the Civil War. Anarchists and Socialists and all manner of anti American, anti liberty, anti capitalist dolts. There have also been anti semites, antiblack, xenophobic kkk aryan loving freaks too.

But when it's all said and done, the center seems to win out -- the rational folks are in the saddle when it counts. It holds together and we do the right thing. Not always on time, not always perfectly the first time through. But nobody adapts better. No country has better resources.

9/11 had the effect of changing our dummitude. We didn't wake up with Munich in 1972. Nor with Iran in 1979. Or Beirut in 1983. Or the Achille Lauro. Or Dean Stethem. Or Khobar Towers. Or Somalia. Or Kenya nd Tanzania. We tried to do as Screwy suggests, but he missed the movie. We walked away from Pakistan and let the Taliban happen. After the Soviets crumbled, we wanted to take a peace dividend and hang the gun up on the wall. We had earned a rest. We protected Saudi Arabia to keep oil prices low. We were lazy. We had fallen into an immoral foreign policy.

In fact, we are far less dummitudinous today than we were then. Pay no heed to the polls. Elections matter. Polls a mostly a fraud. There was one issue in the last election. Iraq. And the largest number of voters ever turned out, and Bush won more votes than ever. The MSM talked about voter fraud in Ohio -- where there wasn't any -- and conveniently avoided the topic in Wisconsin - where the Courts have found there was.

My glass is half full. And I think the Europeans are slowly waking up too. The French are wide awake, suddenly, thanks to riots. Chirac asserted his right to respond to a domestic terros attack with a conventional or non conventional assault. Britain, which allowed the most sinister, antisemitic, anti everything islamonazis preach hate, is shutting them down and throwing them out. There is a doctrinaire German pope in charge.

The great tide was against us because we didn't notice. 9/11 made most of us notice. We woke up from Slumbertude.

When ChimpBushHitler was accused of breaking the law by James Risen and a bunch of unhappy bureaucrats, 70% of the country said they supported warrantless NSA wiretaps. the Patriot Act was extended as a result and will now be renewed.

We're okay. The guy in charge is a cooler customer, with thicker skin, than we give him credit for. He doesn't overreact, or get deflected. He is pretty good at filterinf signal and noise. We're not so good at it I'm afraid.

The great questions are what about Iran? And who will be in charge in 2008?

And no - health care is not a civil liberty. Did somebody actually write that? It's not a right either. Just as food isn't, or a TV isn't. "Thou doth not work, thou doth not eat."

And another correction, somebody said Bush is a dhimmi and FDR wasn't so easy going with the enemy. Now hold on there boys. He didn't exactly put up a fuss with Chamberlain's Munich Agreement appeasing Hitler, and he made friends with Uncle Joe Stalin to deal with Hitler. I am not bitching. Just saying he made pragmatic arrangements to further the war effort. I would say that GWB is trying to do the same is all. But I wouldn't call him a dhimmi. That seems a bit extreme.

Posted by: cardinalpark [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 20, 2006 10:33 AM

“But I wouldn't call him a dhimmi. That seems a bit extreme.”

Yes it is, CardinalPark, but he and our fellow conservatives aren’t tough enough in my opinion. Here I compare classic conservative Cold War rhetoric with the soft approach of some of today’s conservatives. See if it rings true.

Posted by: JasonP [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 20, 2006 10:56 AM

CP, like you I have boundless faith in the gut common sense of most people: what the blue states called the "ignorance" of the red staters, but what I call just plain old having both feet on the ground.

What really, really disturbs the heck out of me is when I hear otherwise intelligent people (whom I do *not* despise or hold in contempt, no matter what Screwy thinks) spout a bunch of just plain wrong information that has been spoonfed to them by the MSM. And one reason I know a lot of this is wrong is because of what my husband does for a living. And because since I started blogging I've made it my business to start checking this stuff out for myself and I've been astounded at what I've found, and this is not doing what (and I'm sorry Screwy) I see a lot of liberal sites doing: quoting Common Dreams as "fact" when it's really opinion, but going to the original source documents and reading THEM instead of someone's partisan take on what THEY THINK I SHOULD THINK ABOUT WHAT THEY SAY.

I know the coverage of the war is biased because the vast majority of good news I see and hear about never makes the papers. Just by chance, some part of it would have it if the reporting were fair. But it doesn't. And then I hear people like my brother, who is no dummy, saying we're losing and Bush is an idiot because he reads the Washington Post and we all know the papers don't lie.

That really, really disturbs me. Because without good information, how can anyone make rational decisions? *That* is why I harp on media bias so much.

An informed electorate is incredibly important, and when someone tells me they haven't bothered to read any of the sources I quote, yet they disagree with what I'm saying, and they produce no factual countersources, I can't really respect their argument much because it is sourced out of thin air.

Posted by: Cassandra [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 20, 2006 11:48 AM

I guess I do have that boundless faith in the common American, yes. I am an optimist. And I share your disdain for the vast swath of the media who do lie, or are simply ignorant, in the relentless pursuit of their political agenda.

But you know, I think the most widely read paper in America is the WSJ, and it's pretty good. I get enraged by the NYT of course, and by the major networks..and CNN. But Fox (and its ratings) has levelled the playing field. Talk radio has too.

The MSM liberal monopoly is dead, certainly dying. Things are getting better, not worse, in terms of broad information dissemination.

Again, I remember people, very smart people, in 1980 bemoaning our loss to the Soviets, and 8 years later, that had changed completely. Similarly, people (again very smart people) moaned in the late 80s that the Japanese and German economies worked better and would dwarf us. They promptly went in the tank.

Now people are claiming we're clueless and Islamism is going to overrun us and the Chinese and Indian economies will outperform us and dwarf us (not going to discuss this bit now).

I don't buy it. Islamism is a bloody joke. Over CNN its easy to be a milquetoast about it. In your face, that changes, even for the most profound milquetoast. Any society which represses at least 60% or 70% of its productive capacity with the remainder focused on repression and corruption has no chance. None. Zero. We will obliterate them with every nuclear weapon we have if we must. It will be ugly, but they cannot win. Furthermore, that ridiculously overstates the threat. The first time they test a serious weapon, do you seriously think it will work? Iraq and Iran fought a hideous bloody 8 year war -- to an incompetent stalemate. We founght Iraq twice for a few days, literally, and completely dismantled their military. We're incredibly good. But they're unbelievably bad. When they fire a weapon--any weapon--they have no f'ing clue where it might land -- including their own heads. Te Iranians hurled human waves at the Iraqis. Can you imagine if they did that with our military? the carnage? Can you imagine an A-10 flying over an Iranian human wave?

This doesn't mean we might not absorb a blow that hurts us. 9/11 hurt. Enormously. But I promise you we can absorb much more. Hezbollah guys in the US will bomb a mall. We will take domestic repressive action to address the internal threat. Civil liberties types will go bonkers. It's all possible. But will we win? Of course.

Hence the point above - a good question - are we tough enough? Are we aggressive enough? By being aggressive now, can we wage a small war instead of a big war? Maybe, Maybe not. Maybe we should be dropping bombs on Iran right now. There's a good case. But I don't have as much information as Bush does to make that call. Should we have landed at Normandy or Calais? I don't know. Should we have done that before Anzio? I don't know.

Right now, I think we're still conquering Italy and North Africa (to extend the WWII analogy) and not ready to go to the heart of the matter, which is Iran. But that day is soon coming.

Posted by: cardinalpark [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 20, 2006 01:35 PM

Fair enough, Cardinal. I don't have a battle plan and I don't want to play armchair general. I can only hope our President is speaking softly and keeping the big stick ready. I had initially thought that one of the most important reasons (among many) to go into Iraq is its strategic location next to Iran (and Saudi Arabia.)

Bush has often said that people underestimate him and are surprised when he prevails. That’s what I'm hoping … that with regard to Iran he is quietly preparing to act when appropriate. To paraphrase Rumsfeld, you don’t go to war with the ideal President that you want, you go to war with the President that you have. I support him as I hold the bar even higher and ask him to go further.

Posted by: JasonP [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 20, 2006 08:17 PM

Four years ago I thought that Islam was just another religion.

After much study and research, I now think Islam is a terrible Cult, the most terrible cult ever placed on this world.

Remember the Borg? The Borg have a singular goal, namely the consumption of technology. Islam has a singular goal also.

The consumption of all cultures, all religions all of mankind.

Islam can not be "moderated", changed, revised or adapted.

It must be destroyed.

In total.

Papa Ray
West Texas
USA

Posted by: Papa Ray [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 20, 2006 08:19 PM

Papa Ray, I absolutely agree with you. Unfortunately there are those like screwy and jason that haven't got the picture yet. screwy, you're all words and no action, there are times to talk and times to fight and now is the time to fight cause our survival as a republic is at stake. jason, you have nothing positive to offer. Anybody can criticize and find fault in anybody else since none of us are perfect. The prez has the toughest job in the world and you ain't helping.

As far as bringing down the giants and heros, cassandra, that has always done by the rabble, those that were incapable of high achievement due to willful ignorance and laziness which description could be applied to the leftists in this country. They are envious of the achievers and want to bring them down to their low levels.

Posted by: czekmark` [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 21, 2006 01:28 PM

Cass,

A remarkable essay - which I archived right next to Tigerhawk's annotated version of Steven Den Beste's "strategic overview".

Thanks also for referencing the Daniel McKivergan piece - a concise summary of the danger of false negatives in the intelligence field. Recall also that, in spite of inspections, U.S. intelligence was unaware of the advanced state of the Iraqi biological weapons program until it was revealed by the 1995 defection of Hussein Kamel, Saddam's son-in-law and head of the Iraqi Ministry of Industry and Military Industrialization.

For more on duping inspectors, see this Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Inside Saddam's secret nuclear program: A senior Iraqi scientist tells how Saddam Hussein, in a decades-long quest for the bomb, systematically hoodwinked the IAEA.

Looking up your reference led to another useful McKivergan piece What did U.S. intelligence tell the Clinton administration on the nuclear reconstitution issue?

PS - the Michael Kinsley WaPo piece you quoted wasn't linked in your essay - it's here: Give Me Liberty Or Let Me Think About It.

And a non-Select, free link to your quote of Andrew Exum's op-ed on body armor is here: All Dressed Up With No Way to Fight (search the text for Exum or scroll down the comments).

Posted by: SeekerBlog.com [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 22, 2006 01:41 AM

Cricket:
"Does this outstanding read mean you are back?"
Cassandra:
"Yes, Cricket :)"

I'd do a Snoopy Dance right now, but I'm clumsy and it'd freak out my coworkers. :)

Posted by: Patrick Chester [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 22, 2006 03:53 AM

Thanks for the links - I didn't notice I had forgotten to link the Kinsley piece. I actually found it in Slate, but the Post link was easier to read.

Hi Patrick :) It's nice to be back. I missed you all.

Posted by: Cassandra [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 22, 2006 07:39 AM

SeekerBlog, HOW DARE YOU HARSH MY MELLOW about the religion of Peace and Jean Fraude! I was perfectly content to keep my head in the sand, knowing that America and Bush were responsible for this unprovoked and mean spirited attack on Saddam, but you had to back your stand with facts! We just can't have that!

Wonderful job.

Posted by: Crckt [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 23, 2006 10:02 AM

Twenty years of struggle against AIDS. Grassroots campaign against AIDS. The struggle to find a cure for AIDS has contributed to other areas... WBR LeoP

Posted by: Leo at January 18, 2007 10:46 AM

"I don't think anyone thinks lovingly of war, except for the leaders who, despite never having served, are eager to seek military solutions.
See, there's your fundamental error. It shows your BDS, your actual belief in the idea that anyone is "eager to seek military solutions."

No, many people seek military solutions, because it allows them to socialize the economy, monopolize political power, and gain kickbacks and subsidies for their friends in the military-industrial complex. War is the health of the state. The mother of all socialism. Don't you forget it.

"Our "belief" in our ideals on September 10th, did they? Yeah! We're not afraid of you! We're free! Take your best shot, we're invincible"

Actually our "belief" in our ideals deals didn't exist on Sept. 10. For the last century, we had destroyed capitalism and replaced it with mercantilism instead. Then we had a massive socialistic welfare state to cover the loss, then massive government intrusion into almost every area of life. If we did have the ideals of individualism on Sept. 10, then why weren't airlines allowed to have firearms on their planes and allowed to arm their pilots as well?

"FWIW, the American Way of Life is WORTH preserving. You think gays and lesbians will live free to persue their right to happiness if we tolerate Wahhabism and those who perpetrate it?"

If we tolerate them doing it in their own lands, then yes. If we claim that they're right here, then we should have no trouble getting evidence and not have to lock them up in Gitmo with the arbitary claim that they were a terrorist.

"You live in safety because someone is on watch 24/7."

Yes, Big Brother is watching you. You safe from the people at WACO for instance because Big Brother took command, just as how you're safe from those "terrorists" in Gitmo thanks to Big Brother watching out for you.

"In 50 years, Dubya will be held in the same regard as Abraham Lincoln"

You mean he'll be praised by liberal historians. Wow, that says a lot about Bush and conservatives if conservatives love who liberal historians love. I guess they're all left-wing really after all.

"The Bush Admin was in charge when attacked, and has prosecuted 2 wars successfully to victory"

To victory you say. Well then, why are we still over there? If we won, then why do Bush and conservatives accuse those of wanting to leave as cutting and running?

"Anarchists and Socialists and all manner of anti American, anti liberty, anti capitalist dolts."

First of all, many anarchists are actually capitalists themselves, such as Murray N. Rothbard, David Friedman, Lysander Spooner, etc. Second, the Republican party has always been anti-capitalistic. There's a difference between capitalism and mercantilism. Third, the biggest threat to liberty is and always has been government and war. War is the mother of all socialism. In WWI and WWII, America had a command economy. The War on Terror will only serve to turn American into a communist country.

Always remember that the primary enemy of human liberty is The State and War is the Health of the State.

Posted by: Mrhuh at January 28, 2007 01:06 PM

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