May 06, 2004

Stuff That's Bothering Me, And Stuff I Believe

I haven't posted much when it comes to politics, or the war in Iraq, or the War on Terror in general because, frankly, I've been needing a break from it. But, also, it's been obvious to me for some time that the idealogical battle lines on all those topics have been pretty much drawn for months now.

I mean, even though there are, what, six months or so until the election, I think people in the know (i.e. bloggers) have basically made up their minds as to who they're going to vote for. As for the undecideds out there, well, they don't read blogs, so what's the point of preaching to the already entrenched choir? Or, for that matter, preaching to people who are going to church across the street no matter what you say anyway?

That being said, I'm going to preach anyway, if for no other reason but to get some stuff off my chest that's been bothering me lately. This is due, in no small part, to a recent post by Johnny Huh? over at Intellection Poison who, to put it mildly, is a rabid anti-Bush kinda guy. But, I still like him, because he feeds me story and article ideas and he has a cute puppy. That, and I think political leanings are no reason to write friends off when, otherwise, they're basically great people. I should note here that I don't have the exact post of Johnny's that prompted this up and accessible right now, because for some freakin' reason I can't read his site when I'm at work, so I'm going off memory. So, you'll have to find the post yourself.

Just to be clear. . . again. . . I'm not a gigantic Bush supporter, just as I'm not a gigantic Kerry detractor. Both men are flawed, as all men (and women) are. I'm pro-choice (Bush isn't), I could care less if gays marry (Bush would disagree), and I think there should have been way more accountability attoned in the White House for Enron et al. I also think Dick Cheney's secretive nature is alarmingly creepy behavior for a vice president and I think the administration as a whole is amazingly arrogant and guilty of hubris to the x degree. Then again, I think those last couple of points could apply to every White House administration throughout the history of United States.

What turns me off most, however, and I think it's something that probably turns off most Americans in general, is when I read terms like "ShrubCo" or "Chimp" when referring to Bush and his administration. It's petty name calling, really, and it comes across as ignorant and just a tad lazy. Okay, a LOT lazy. I have equally little time for those that say Kerry is a lumpy sack of mashed potatoes, or some other such hash on the man's admittedly lackluster appearance and speech delivery.

I also don't have time for half-researched blanket statements like "Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11." Forget for a moment that the War on Terror is bigger than just 9/11, that 9/11 was the gargantuan slap to the face that awakened people to the reality of international terrorism (and not just Al Queda). A little research, just a teeny tiny little research, exposes pre-war Iraq as a cesspool of terrorist activity; from harboring known terrorists, to funding and training alongside terrorists within terrorist camps in Iraq, to paying the families of suicide bombers in Israel. This is all pretty well documented stuff.

And, lost in the daily news shuffle, apparently, is the terrorism role that played out as a result of the U.N. Oil-For-Food scandal which, quite frankly, dwarfs any purported scandals heaped on the Bush administration, or any administration for that matter, even Nixon. If the reports are accurate, and there's little reason to think they aren't, then quite a bit of the money that was supposed to end up feeding hungry Iraqis, ended up in the pockets of terrorist organizations worldwide. How's that for irony?

My point is that the world situation is a lot more nuanced and complex than most may realize, and boiling things down to "Bush is a chimp" seems to speak to a massive ignorance and laziness on the part of the person spewing forth the statement. It's not that I feel I have to defend the Bush administration so much as I feel I have to point out the rest of the story, which more and more seems to not be told, for whatever reasons, be it political media bias or just selling whatever message or story seems to sell best.

I feel I should also note here that I gravitate toward conservative bloggers not because I agree with everything they say, but they tend to be more reasonable and open to discussion than many on the left. I guess I could just be visiting sites that are way far left and spit more bile than lesser leftists, but I have a sneaking suspicion that's not the case. I think the most virulent Bush hating memes have gravitated toward, and been embraced by, those leftists who are closer to the center. And, I'm here to say, hate language just doesn't sell well in an election.

I'm for a strong America, and if that means being the strongest, most influential nation on the planet, well, that's great. I don't happen to think Russia, Germany, France and basically the entire Middle East (except for maybe Jordan) have America's best interests at heart, and I'm sick and tired of dancing around the thumbtacks laid down by the U.N. meant to keep basically everything from ever getting done about anything, except for maybe passing a resolution or 20 to think about getting something done sometime. As it stands, the U.N. is pretty much the last place the world should look to get anything done, unless the world is looking for corruption and bribery as the ideal.

I'm all for the concept of a world governing body. Yay governing body! If nothing, Joshua has convinced me it's at least plausible. But, not until governments, and not just the U.S., are willing to surrender their sovereignty to a world governing body. Anybody want to take wagers on when that will happen?

I think both Israel and Palestine have a right to exist. But, each day, I think the Palestinians are forever losing their argument for statehood. With each suicide bombing, and each glorified murder of a mother and four children (and one unborn), their's becomes less of a cause and more of an evil. If you can somehow equate such a senseless killing with the precision hits against Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz Rantisi, then your moral borometer is at a setting I don't even want to know about. So, when Bush ends up supporting Sharon? Well, I can basically see why.

As for environmental issues, and the Bush admins' so-called vendetta against nature, well, I can't speak with any amount of educated authority on that. What I do know is that, every time I buy something at Menards, whether it be paint, or stain, or whatever, virtually every can features the warning "This product contains chemicals that have been deemed cancer causing agents IN CALIFORNIA." What is it with California and rooting out cancer causing agents? I think I saw a California-based study that said broccoli causes cancer. My point is, when it comes to the environment and health, you can basically pick the study of your choice to back up pretty much ANYTHING. As an aside, when I was in San Antonio, I caught a Showtime series called "Bullshit" hosted by Penn and Teller, which made a pretty compelling case against recycling, pointing out it actually requires more resources, more energy and causes more pollution. I'm not saying they were right or wrong, but man they made a compelling case against it.

Bush or Kerry? I honestly don't know yet. I know I didn't vote for Bush the first time around, but I'm glad Gore didn't win. I'm also glad Howard Dean shouted his way from the spotlight. I'm disappointed that Edwards is out, although I suspect he'll be the V-P nominee. Nader? More than likely he'll just do another hatchet job on the Democratic nominee's overall chances.

Right now, I'm swayed primarily by tone, and the tone I'm hearing is "Bush is a chimp" and "Bush lied, people died!" and "Bush = Hitler" and "Bush knew about 9/11!" And, you know what? That shit turns me off. Big time. You know how, when you encounter a crazy person on the street, and they're yelling about cockroaches with GPS mind control beams? And you know how you walk right past that crazy person, and you hope to God you never ever sniff enough household cleaners that you turn out like him? That's how I feel when I read stuff like "Bush = Hitler" or "Bush is a chimp."

It actually makes me want to support Bush because, man, I don't want people who are that angry and removed from reality to have their guy in the White House. Tone down the rhetoric, people, and I think you'll find more attentive listeners. If it's not too late, I mean.

I don't know, I guess. My view is from the cheap seats: a solitary blogger with about as much sway as a blade of grass in a slight breeze.

Posted by Ryan at May 6, 2004 01:18 PM

I also don't have time for half-researched blanket statements like "Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11." (Hope those tags work)

I can almost understand why you bring this up but the fact of the matter is that 57% of Americans STILL believe that Iraq was responsible for 9/11. That's a huge number. I can't fathom that anyone thinks Iraq was responsible for those attacks. Do you think that? This is despite Donald Rumsfield admitting Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.

"Among those who perceived experts as saying that Iraq had supported al Qaeda, 62% said they would vote for Bush and 36% said they would vote for Kerry. Among those who perceived experts as saying that Iraq was not supporting al Qaeda, just 13% said they would vote for Bush and 85% for Kerry."

Posted by: Mel at May 6, 2004 03:43 PM

Ok, my percentage number was wrong.
"36 percent now think Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the 9/11 attacks against the U.S., but that is the smallest percentage since the question was first asked in CBS News Polls in September 2002"

I still think that's 36% too much.

Posted by: Mel at May 6, 2004 03:58 PM

This may show up twice . . .

Also, what do you think about these points (avoid of course the pointed references to Bush's shortcomings, I know how you feel about that)? But what do you think of Kerry's policies? What do you know about him other than he's not Bush?

Posted by: at May 6, 2004 04:13 PM

I know that, in Iraq, Kerry maintains he'd stay the course until the job is done and done correctly, which is basically the same as Bush.

However, when it comes to homeland security and his plan to fight terrorism, he wants to rely too much on U.N. involvement, which bothers the living shit out of me. He also wants to treat the war on terrorism more as a policing initiative meant to root out individuals rather than a massive push to change the underlying cancers of mullah-controlled government regimes that promote Islamic Fundamentalist idealogy. Shit, you can support and assist all the human rights groups, independent media and labor unions you want; you still will have state-run media propaganda in Iran, Syria and so on calling for the death of the Great Satan. One thing that is sure to make their butts pucker, I'm convinced, would be a Democratically elected Iraq leadership with U.S. military bases right in their backyard.

Posted by: Ryan at May 6, 2004 04:36 PM

One thing that is sure to make their butts pucker, I'm convinced, would be a Democratically elected Iraq leadership with U.S. military bases right in their backyard.

Okay, but, serious question: what if a democratically elected Iraq leadership turns out to be utterly hostile to the United States and its interests? I mean, seriously. This becomes more likely every day, and I think you'll agree that Bush staying in office is likely to add momentum to that kind of thinking.

Right now, I'm swayed primarily by tone, and the tone I'm hearing is "Bush is a chimp" and "Bush lied, people died!" and "Bush = Hitler" and "Bush knew about 9/11!" And, you know what? That shit turns me off. Big time.

Okay, but seriously: have you read the comments section at ASV from April? Holy shit, dude.

Posted by: Joshua at May 6, 2004 05:07 PM

That's why I've been trying to unplug from politics for awhile, Joshua. It's gotten just too damned nasty all over the place. My safe havens right now are Instapundit, Andrew Sullivan and Strip Mining For Whimsy. No two ways about it, this is going to be one UGLY election. And given the vitriol being spewed by the far Left, if Bush wins. . . well, I almost don't want to think about it right now.

A democratically elected Iraq hostile to the U.S. is entirely possible. However, given that they won't have much in the way of allies (I don't think) after power is handed over, chances are they're going to want us to stick around for awhile even though they'll hate it.

Posted by: Ryan at May 6, 2004 05:14 PM

hmmm, haven't been here yet. nice drapes.

before i forget, the comment about a democratic, yet hostile iraq…with iraq's previous record of UN violation since the ending of '91 gulf war, which by the way was technically a cease-fire agreement hinged on those very UN resolution that were violated, i don't think a more hostile iraq is possible.

ryan, enjoyed the comments you made. i too am turned off by the piss and vinegar politics of today's atmosphere. though, i think W could do a bit more to make himself more appealing to his detractors. if he didn't say shit like "let's roll", or "bring 'em on" i think he'd be more pallatable to the (not to stereotype) college and post-college grads. i try to look past the petty criticisms of his mannerism and oration, and try to understand the motivation behind the policies. not everytime, but more times than not, i find this administration's justifications for their actions convincing.

anyway, enjoyed the visit. i'll add you to the list of links at the mint400.

Posted by: seed at May 6, 2004 06:35 PM

Actually, Ryan, Kerry's stance on Iraq is that he'd work like a horse on speed to regather worldwide support for the effort. Not merely staying the course.

And I use ShrubCo not necessarily as a pejorative. I just use it to mean the whole cadre of them, Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, Rove, Rumsfeld, Rice and Powell.

And the Bush is a chimp stuff, hey, you be the judge. I'm amazed by how similar he does look like our simian cousins.

Would you believe that I toned down that post quite a bit?

Posted by: Johnny Huh? at May 6, 2004 07:01 PM

Would you believe that I toned down that post quite a bit?


Posted by: Joshua at May 6, 2004 08:22 PM

Ryan, I, too, get disgusted with the mud-slinging and demeaning nature of political rhetoric and have actually been trying to not engage in it quite as vehemently as I have in the past. But it's hard sometime.

But I do want to ask about a statement you wrote in this post.
I don't happen to think Russia, Germany, France and basically the entire Middle East (except for maybe Jordan) have America's best interests at heart...
Do you really think all countries should have our best interest at heart? And do you think we take the best interests of other countries to heart when we make decisions? You said yourself you want a strong U.S. what does that mean? Do you want us to have the highest quality of living, get the best economic benefits - and is it okay that we get the privileges we do at the expense of people in other countries?
This is what I don't get - and I'm not trying to argue just to argue. I really want to understand. It seems like most Americans think other countries should bow to policies that benefit us, and oh well if it doesn't benefit others; and if they don't, we have the right to force them to. How can we move away from this national indentity and move towards a global appreciation for all of life?

Posted by: D at May 6, 2004 10:05 PM

Hey seed. Hayseed? Anyway, I've poked around the Mint 400 a few times in my day, and I'm happy to see you're finding your way here. SCORE! Always nice to see a new commenter. I'll try to remember to link you back, even though I traditionally do so at a pace that makes turtles seem swift.

Posted by: Ryan at May 7, 2004 02:28 AM

And, D, I was being extremely sarcastic with the "best interests at heart" thing. What I meant was that those countries, at least during the run-up to the war in Iraq, and Lord knows other incidents, have actively tried blocking U.S. initiatives because (and I think the UNscam scandal makes this plain) they had their hands deep within the cookie jar. Whereas the U.S. comes across as heavy handed for acting without the Holy grail of France's et al's blessings, I find it incredible that those same countries are not routinely exposed by the Media for their duplicitous and entirely despicable machinations behind the scenes.

Posted by: Ryan at May 7, 2004 12:22 PM

i agree with everything you've said here - very well put.

depending on who reads my blog, some think i'm in the radical leftist category, while others understand that i'm not the asshat at the protest rally with the "BUSH KNEW" sign, screaming about UFO coverups and believing that "it's all about oil". as i said after that last protest rally i went to, i think not only are those people obnoxious, but they are too lazy to really get their histories straight and to create a solid argument for or against anything. any time you engage in conversation with someone like that, they just start throwing taglines at you, which is almost exactlly the same thing that's going on the far right.

every once in a while i'll post/talk about the specifics of politics - facts and details - but usually i just try to grasp the over all polisophical meaning, and stay away from finger pointing and spewing false information. it's too bad that so many on either side of today's discussions undermine what are valid arguments by screaming unfounded, and narrow-minded, statements. it's turning the world into a Springer episode.

Posted by: leblanc at May 7, 2004 03:19 PM

Yeah, that's why I try to stay away from pointing out that our president is, ahem, not the sharpest knife in the drawer on these posts and save the name-calling for real-life discussions in establishments that serve beer. After all, while it may be fun it's mostly counterproductive and largely beside the point. From what I can discern Nixon was pretty damn intelligent and yet still his administration made a lot of spectacularly bad decisions. Ditto Clinton.
Even so, I think if you examine the record of name-calling you'll find that the right wing indulges in this political vice plenty. In fact, all this blustering objection to "hate speech" seems to be a very recent development indeed. I seem to recall a pretty mindbending profusion of similar invective in the Clinton years, which helped to justify essentially turning the Special Prosecutor position into a permanent Office of Digging up Dirt on the President. (This may also account for why so many on the left feel that the current administration is getting a free pass by comparison.)

So to sum up: Yup, it's getting nasty out there. That's how this game called politics is being played these days (and maybe it always has been), but I still don't think voting for candidate A because candidate B has some supporters who come off like wankers is a very wise strategy. Vote the issues.

Posted by: flamingbanjo at May 7, 2004 04:24 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!