Friday, August 10, 2007

Event: The Emphasis? Emphatic.

One of my perennial complaints against the Democratic Party at large is that they play a defensive game. Not in terms of their foreign policy, but in terms of their political strategy. They are too caught up in number crunching and trying to out-tough the Republicans to actually hold their ground against the Republicans in issues in which progressives have the advantage.

Not wanting to make the same mistake, and to be thereby hypocritical, I'm going to deal with something upfront, possibly over-reacting (after all, it seemed like a blogbomb, and I don't know if the guy's even going to come back and hear about how his comment was received), but at least I can make an articulated case for the political agenda that Blue Skies Falling has promoted from the beginning.

Today, on my post Freedom House Rankings I received the following comment from Chris whose blog is here. His comment ran as follows:

United States gets a top ranking. Yet this country continues to be demonized and called the evil empire. If people spent as much time trying to bring about freedom for others as the amount of time they do hating America, perhaps more people in this world would have a chance to live freer lives as they should.

I wrote the following back:

I don't usually delete comments, Chris, but your point only connects with the post by the barest thread. And your point is vague and generalizing and (most likely) simple Republican sloganeering. Though you can correct me if I'm wrong. And you don't offer any evidence to back your claim up.

Sometimes it's hard not to delete comments, but often it's very easy, becase when you post something as carelessly and hastily written as this, you're only making yourself look foolish.

Then I was worried that I might be sticking my foot down my throat. I went to Chris' blog, and after just a few minutes of scanning I found the following directed against that figurehead of irresponsible revolutionary action, Eddie Vedder:

Eddie seems to be of the All Things Bush Are Bad camp, the very same camp who would say, if they found out that they and Bush liked the same music, they'd say he listens to it the wrong way, the moron. This is the group of people who completely shun a Pro-Democracy In Iraq, Let The Troops Win The War point of view. This is the same group that wants a cowardly exit from Iraq, to let the Freedom Fighters win and for the illegally occupying U.S. troops to leave in shame. Shame! When Eddie brings this into a concert then it ruins it and it's dangerous 'cause it poisons the minds of impressionable listeners. Why should the U.S. pack and leave as quickly as possible? If it could happen in three days, wouldn't that be great, Eddie? Allow Iran to take over Iraq. Allow Iraq to become a Free Zone for al Qaida, to live and thrive and train and plan to kill me... and to kill you... and your family.

Now I don't want to be a total prick. To be fair, Chris does link to a large number of (seemingly) non-partisan charities; they're actually his most prominent links. His blog isn't strictly political, and I do think he's well intentioned. But I have to say that I really hate comments like his. I hate them. They're almost as bad as spam. They involve practically no effort to understand or respond to the subject posted, they offer almost nothing by way of a supportable argument or reasonable alternative, and ultimately, they're disrespectful. If I have the audacity to go onto a conservative blog (and I do sometimes) and send up some vibes against its author and readers, you sure as Hell better expect that I

1) understand the argument they're making and how mine applies,
2) have something worthwhile to say, and
3) say it respectfully.

So I don't feel too bad about calling Chris out today. He's basically just supplying me with straw men anyway. As for his comments, both in response to my post and on his own blog, it doesn't even really take much work.

I'd ask Chris first if he thought that Clinton was unreasonably and prejudicially attacked as a result of the Starr investigation. If he doesn't think so, then I think it's easy to prove a level of hypocrisy, since Clinton's tribulations were essentially confined to titillating scandal, whereas Bush has largely subverted the rule of law governing the Executive Branch. After all, Clinton didn't override judicial restraints on wiretaps, didn't flout congressional oversight, and he certainly didn't legalize torture. Which all ought to make Bush problematic to Chris, since he cares about the freedom and civil liberties of Iraqis.

With regards to people "hating America" (and I can only assume that Chris means his fellow Americans' "hate" for America) and the absurd argument supplied for staying in Iraq, I'm going to post, in its entirety, a speech Barack Obama had the foresight to write back in October, 2002. And no, I'm not saying this as a diehard Obama supporter. I haven't haven't decided yet who I support; I have reservations with all of our (nevertheless inordinately qualified (relative to Republican options)) Democratic candidates. Regardless, it's impressive that Obama could say in 2002 what some people are having a difficult time admitting today.

Good afternoon. Let me begin by saying that although this has been billed as an anti-war rally, I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances. The Civil War was one of the bloodiest in history, and yet it was only through the crucible of the sword, the sacrifice of multitudes, that we could begin to perfect this union, and drive the scourge of slavery from our soil. I don't oppose all wars.

My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton's army. He saw the dead and dying across the fields of Europe; he heard the stories of fellow troops who first entered Auschwitz and Treblinka. He fought in the name of a larger freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil, and he did not fight in vain. I don't oppose all wars.

After September 11th, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this administration's pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such tragedy from happening again. I don't oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism.

What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income - to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression. That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics. Now let me be clear - I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity. He's a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.

But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history. I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the middle east, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of Al Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars.

So for those of us who seek a more just and secure world for our children, let us send a clear message to the President today. You want a fight, President Bush? Let's finish the fight with Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, through effective, coordinated intelligence, and a shutting down of the financial networks that support terrorism, and a homeland security program that involves more than color-coded warnings. You want a fight, President Bush?

Let's fight to make sure that the UN inspectors can do their work, and that we vigorously enforce a non-proliferation treaty, and that former enemies and current allies like Russia safeguard and ultimately eliminate their stores of nuclear material, and that nations like Pakistan and India never use the terrible weapons already in their possession, and that the arms merchants in our own country stop feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe. You want a fight, President Bush?

Let's fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells. You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil, through an energy policy that doesn't simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil. Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair. The consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable. We may have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our freedom, and pay the wages of war.

The consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable. We may have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our freedom, and pay the wages of war. But we ought not -- we will not -- travel down that hellish path blindly. Nor should we allow those who would march off and pay the ultimate sacrifice, who would prove the full measure of devotion with their blood, to make such an awful sacrifice in vain.

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