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Right, Wrong and Indifferent

Posted by Rick · May 17th, 2004 · 1 Comment

Of late, this blog has seen a plethora of comments — some dealing with real issues, some simply throwing mud — relating to the policies of the Bush Administration and the dislike many people posting here have for them. I will freely admit to being so occupied right now writing a motion for my first legal case to have kept up with everything — or to write my regular blog articles.

But this, I think, is what those criticizing me and similarly-minded writers here have failed to understand: We aren’t (just) against some specific act of the Administration; we are primarily against it’s methods. We, also, happen to think that some of the specific acts are — to put the best face on them — counterproductive.

Let’s get another thing straight, too. “Liberals” — whether you’re talking small-l or Big-L — are no more desirous of seeing America destroyed than are conservatives — and, again, it doesn’t matter if you’re discussing little-c or Big-C or neo-cons. Yes, there are suicide bombers in the world who aren’t concerned about whether they live or die if it means they can destroy a significant number of the people they oppose — or those who just have this misfortune of getting in the way — in the process. But the majority of those people can barely read and write; that’s how they get drafted to such ignominious purposes in the first place. I think I can safely say that those of us writing on this blog are free of such suicidal desires. And, probably not speaking only for myself, I can tell you that I’m neither desirous of, nor willing to, live in the shadow of a detonated nuclear weapon. So accusations that our goal is the downfall of the country in which we live and/or its annihilation by nuclear holocaust are less than “unfair”; they’re both baseless and, frankly, idiotic. Such statements serve to indicate the incapability of those making them to comprehend another’s point of view, even when they disagree. They count, at best, as attempts to avoid having to convince, by shifting attention away from any real issues to one which couldn’t possibly be more fallacious and anti-veridical.

Useless Labels
On a side issue, I frankly think these labels are more hindrances than help in discussing the quite serious and complex issues facing all Americans. I, for one, don’t fit neatly under any such label and I think most Americans don’t. If you are against abortions (I’ve frequently and publicly, in newspapers and even recently on the blog written against abortion), but in favor of a woman’s right to choose how to handle certain pregnancies (and I’ve also written here about that), are you conservative, Conservative, liberal or Liberal — or none of the above? If you favor a strong enough military for defense, but not for imperialism, where do you fit? If you favor fiscal responsibility, which party do you align yourself with?

Sometimes, being able to label something or someone provides a shorthand method for quickly understanding “where they’re coming from,” but too often today, these labels merely get in the way of intelligent discussion. They never really fit, but they provide a good way of “attacking” an argument without having to address the issues. In short, labels are particularly useful for people who don’t have any other way to dispute those with whom they disagree.

I would hope it follows from the recognition that those who share my point of view are not breathlessly anticipating our own deaths, rapes or mutilations — as at least one writer here appears to believe — I would hope it follows that we are not unpatriotic. On the contrary, we believe, with the founders of this country, that calling for considered thought of the actions of our government — and, thus, of ourselves, since we, the People are the source of that government’s continued right to exist — is one of the most patriotic of acts, the performance of our duty as citizens, rather than blindly following ill-considered plans like so many sheep, or diving off cliffs at the instigation of our leaders like so many lemmings — or sending our sons and daughters unquestioningly into unnecessary, undeclared and ill-defined “wars.”

In a free society with a government based on reason, it is inevitable that there will be no uniform opinion about important issues. Those accustomed to suppression and control by governmental authority see this as leading only to chaos. But a government of the people requires difference of opinion in order to discover truth and to take advantage of the opportunity that only understanding brings. Website preamble to quotes from Thomas Jefferson on this topic.

Or, as a great sage politician once put it,

In every country where man is free to think and to speak, differences of opinion will arise from difference of perception, and the imperfection of reason; but these differences when permitted, as in this happy country, to purify themselves by free discussion, are but as passing clouds overspreading our land transiently and leaving our horizon more bright and serene. — Thomas Jefferson, writing to Benjamin Waring, 1801.

Perhaps both the number one charge and the best summary of what thinking people find wrong with the Administration of President George W. Bush is contained an article by Dick Meyer at CBS News Online. The title? “Lone Ranger Bush; No Silver Bullet.” Truer words have seldom been spoken. Contrapone to the expressions of Thomas Jefferson and other Founders of the United States on the topic, the Lone Ranger says you’re either “for us or against us.” Increasingly, “us” means “Bush, Cheney, Rove, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, et al.”

As the group of all the President’s men (sorry, Condi, you’re just a mouthpiece anyway) begins to shrink, Bush would do well to recall that the term “people” in this government of the people, by the people and for the people is not a singular noun. The man pointing his gun at the world — the man with the hair trigger — was himself elected by the thinnest of hairs. Some say it was “one Supreme Court vote”; based upon the activities of Scalia, Thomas, Rehnquist, et al, since the election, this isn’t entirely impossible to imagine. Somewhat short of a mandate, Bush has nevertheless chosen to run our (yes, “our,” not “his”) country as if at least half its citizens did not exist. He has taken our armies out into the world as if practically none of the other countries exist.

At home, the man who said “there ought to be limits to freedom” finds himself supported by a large group who agree that you are either “for us or against us.” No room for disagreement. “My way or the highway.” “America, love it as it is under my rule — don’t try to improve it — or leave it!” And if you don’t agree with that, just hang on, we’ve got the USA PATRIOT Act. We’ll get around to you, former fellow citizen, soon enough.

Unless he’s as successful at manipulating the media and the American people in 2008 as he is now, George Bush will be gone in four-and-a-half years. (Sorry, but I believe enough of the American public is stupid enough to re-elect him. I don’t think much more than 55-60% of the American people are that stupid, but I believe probably about 55-60% are.) I leave open the possibility, by the way, that in 2008, especially if he keeps us on the path he’s started us on, President Bush will find the need to abolish elections in the interest of national security. You may find this absurd, but, after all, “there ought to be limits to freedom.” If he does this, he will not be the first democratically-elected President to have decided it was necessary. Nor is the USA PATRIOT Act and related legislation the first time, preparatory to such a move, that it was felt to be a necessary part of the struggle to curtail the basic civil and human rights of the citizens of a democracy.

But assuming Bush actually does leave office in 2008, the country will have to live with the aftermath for decades to come (also assuming our military is not so weakened by eight years of war as to be unable to defend us against our growing list of enemies, many of whom, like bin Laden, were once allies).

The ally problem is the most predictable and the most serious. Even before he took office, George Bush never seemed much interested in foreigners or foreign places. In the debates, Bush struggled to name leaders of other countries as he denounced nation-building and naive missions to make the world safe for democracy, like the mission he’s now leading in Iraq.

As soon as he moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Bush started tearing up treaties. Out went the Kyoto Treaty on Global Climate Change. The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty — forget about it. The administration opposed the new International Criminal Court to prosecute war crimes. It has refused to ratify the treaty to ban the use of landmines and fought enforcing international conventions limiting chemical weapons and biological weapons, a.k.a. WMD. And United Nations support to invade Iraq? That’s wussy stuff.

So now there is no reservoir of good will, even in the non-Muslim world, to help the U.S. recover from the failures at Abu Ghraib. Perhaps the abuses would have been less likely to have occurred in the first place if we had deeper alliances in Iraq, if we weren’t stretched too thin, if we were part of a truly international mission.

And good luck if the U.S. ever needs allies to put themselves at risk in, say, North Korea, Pakistan or Indonesia. — Meyer, “Lone Ranger Bush; No Silver Bullet” (17 May 2004) CBS News Online.

And this is just what Bush has done to our standing in the world. Things get even uglier when you try to think about what he’s doing to our ability to live in the world, or even to move around in it. These are some of the myriad reasons “Liberals” and thinking people of all political stripes dislike the Bush Administration.

I can here only echo the words of Dick Meyer,

In times like this, the Lone Ranger turns to Tonto. Are you ready, Mr. Rove? In modern statecraft, those who can’t do, spin.

So until 2008, barring any earlier changes in the law that prevent it, I’ll just have to continue doing my best to make sure it all gets Unspun™.

Categories: Politics-In-General


1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Kent // May 18, 2004 at 8:31 am


    One quote comes to mind repeatedly over the last few day and I think it is very right now:

    “To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.” ?Theodore Roosevelt, 1912

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