Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Blame Michael Jackson Syndrome

I didn't hear about this until seeing a taped episode of "The Daily Show" tonight where Fox schmuck Neil Cavuto is interviewing (or more like buttering up) George W. Bush. At one point, Cavuto suggests that the Michael Jackson trial has resulted in Bush's unpopularity. I think his logic is that if Americans weren't so wrapped up in it, they would pay attention to Bush's social secuirty plan and just love it. Anyway, the transcript is just too funny for words:

BUSH: Polls go up, and polls go down. But I also know my job. See, I could not be here in Washington, D.C., and take on an issue like Social Security and live with myself. In other words, if I didn't take this on, I'd have said, "What did you go to Washington for in the first place?"

...

CAVUTO: But in the meantime, the news channels then hear what you're saying, and then later on, we have this Michael Jackson update. I mean, his trial and his ongoing saga has gripped the nation for the past four-and-a-half, five months as you've been on this campaign.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: I know this is a little outlandish, Mr. President…

BUSH: No, that's all right, Neil.

CAVUTO: Do you think that the focus on Michael Jackson has hurt you?


Equally as coherent a logic would be that Americans are so disconcerted by the state of the country and the guy who is leading it that the Michael Jackson trial is some sort of escapist outlet. Better yet, how about Republicans stop making excuses for having unpopular policies. I mean that just takes the cake.

23 comments:

Chris said...

I actually saw this interview, and I think the point Cavuto was asking about was that instead of being an informative outlet for the general population, the media, through its coverage of the Jackson trial, became a sort of freak-show, venue for the ridiculous, absurd and frivolous. Instead of learning about anything going on in DC as to arguments regarding EITHER side, the media would rather give the populous wall to wall coverage to something to really matters to almost no one in the country...the unfortunate part is that people watched.

You also conveniently leave out Bush's answer to the question, so I shall supply it (without comment):

BUSH: "I have no idea. I don't spend a lot of time trying to figure out, you know, the viewing patterns of American TV audiences. I do know what my job is, and there's a serious problem with Social Security. I mean, we've got a bunch of young kids getting ready to pay minimum 12.4 percent payroll tax into a system that's going bust. I just don't think it's fair to a young generation to say, "Work hard. Contribute to a system," and know that unless we do something today, the system will be bankrupt for them. It is not right, and it's not fair.

Look, I fully understand some in Washington say, I wish he hadn't brought it up. You know, how come he's making us do this?

And the answer is, because those of us have been elected have a duty, have an obligation to solve problems. And I would tell people when I campaign, I'd say, "Elect me. I will confront problems and not pass them on to future presidents." Which is sometimes the tendency in the political world, just kind of shuffle it along.

Well, it's not going to be the case for the Bush administration. You ask about standing. I think the American people, when it's all said and done, appreciate Republicans or Democrats or whoever who are willing to take on the tough issues."

Elaine said...

Well, Bush's answers mean little to me; especially when he claims that he doesn't analyze "viewing patterns." This is an administration that has a habit of creating distraction when an incriminating story comes out on them, and Bush has a history of painting himself as a dispassionate politician when he has been a fierce politico at least since he started campaigning for his father.

However, my main point here is that Fox so pathetically lobs softballs at Bush and the Republicans that they reach this new low, this blame Micahel ridiculousness: making excuses for why Bush isn't so popular right now by pinning it on a celebrity trial. I agree that media excess and celebrity culture is a problem for how the news is reported, but Fox is a big part of the problem. If they're going to cover the Jackson trial and then turn and blame its coverage on Bush--in part their coverage--than I'm going to laugh and continue to find the channel wholly worthless for learning honest news. And hey, why does Fox make excuses for the Bush administration while hammering the Democrats nonstop? Or they could point out that the Jackson trial distracted from reporting of the Downing Street Memo? See, I just would expect them to live up to their impeccable "fair and balanced" standards.

Chris said...

I'm sure they could have focused on the Downing Street memo, if it were actually newsworthy. It's a nice document for the historical record, but it's not the "smoking gun" that some wish it could be. See Christopher Hitchens' article on Slate http://slate.msn.com/id/2121212/ (especially "We apparently have an administration that can, on the word of a British clerk, "fix" not just findings but also "facts." Never mind for now that the English employ the word "fix" in a slightly different way—a better term might have been "organized."
")

I agree that Fox is more conservative relative to the other networks. However, the Cavuto's show is a business show, and he actually asked some tough questions in regard to business and economic matters. I don't disagree that it was a softball, but he knew it was stupid question to begin with. Why he asked I have no idea.

Elaine said...

I think Hitchens wrote that article to reassure himself that the Downing Street Memo doesn't implicate the Bush administration in manipulation and suprressing of intelligence and other facts, because his article glosses over and/or manipulates the facts.

For instance:

"that everyone from Hans Blix to Jacques Chirac believed that Saddam was hiding weapons from inspectors, it made legal sense to advance this case under the banner of international law and to treat Saddam "as if" (and how else?) his strategy of concealment and deception were prima facie proof."

Not true. In fact, sanctions and inspections during the 90s against Saddam worked better than the Bush administration ever wanted to admit, and Hans Blix knew that inspections were a huge deterrent (http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20040701faessay83409-p10/george-a-lopez-david-cortright/containing-iraq-sanctions-worked.html). The argument before the invasion was over whether inspections should proceed or whether to invade. People like Blix knew that inspections and sanctions had worked, and to prevent Bush from going to war, they went back into Iraq to inspect more, and why not? Anyway, that approach is hugely different than how Hitchens represents it, saying that all parties believed that since Saddam was evasive he had weapons.

-Hitchens disputed the semantics of "fixed" and compares it to the American "organized."

Well, if "organized" means something totally different, then why is the story huge in the UK? Furthermore, it would mean essentially the same thing in context of the memo: "But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." Replace "fixed" with organized and you get the same meaning...policy was decided before putting all facts and intelligence on the table.

"I am now forced to wonder: Who is there who does not know that the Bush administration decided after September 2001 to change the balance of power in the region"

Yes, but the point is, what was the reasoning behind the war? Was it valid? The most suspect thing about the administration is precisely that they jumped right on Iraq after September 11 when Afghanistan and bin Laden should have been the biggest priorities, and here Hitchens tries to write that off. First Iraq was being justified b/c of(since not found) WMDs and relating it to a September 11 terrorist (which proved false); now we're spreading democracy.

"We apparently have an administration that can, on the word of a British clerk, "fix" not just findings but also "facts."

So he doesn't dispute the facts, he just disputes the fact that a clerk wrote it. Let's just throw out all transcripts of anything since they're written by clerks.

Anyway, Hitchens slopiness does not surprise me. He's proved himself not creditable in the past.

Just because Cavuto's show is a "business" show does not make it biased. I think we can all agree that Fox has a strong, strong bias against Democrats, and MSNBC and CNN aren't far behind in terms of giving the Bush administration an all out pass.

Chris said...

"Not true. In fact, sanctions and inspections during the 90s against Saddam worked better than the Bush administration ever wanted to admit, and Hans Blix knew that inspections were a huge deterrent."

This doesn't address the fact that Chirac, Blix, and nearly everyone else thought that there were weapons.

"Replace "fixed" with organized and you get the same meaning...policy was decided before putting all facts and intelligence on the table."

Wouldn't you want to put the facts together to make your case? It seems sensible to me. The media relishes in scandal of any kind: if there were something there, it would be a bigger deal, but there isn't.

"First Iraq was being justified b/c of(since not found) WMDs and relating it to a September 11 terrorist (which proved false); now we're spreading democracy."

It might surprise you but there were multiple reasons for going into Iraq. The WMD and terrorism were the easiest arguments to make, and for the media to explain (since it took minimal effort). The connection between Saddam and terrorism is quite clear, especially the fact that he financially supported Palestinian suicide bombers, provided safe haven for various terrorists because of its central location, etc.

"Just because Cavuto's show is a "business" show does not make it biased. I think we can all agree that Fox has a strong, strong bias against Democrats, and MSNBC and CNN aren't far behind in terms of giving the Bush administration an all out pass."

Obviously you've never seen "Inside Politics" (ie. formerly the "John Kerry Show" as dubbed by one of my Democrat friends) on CNN. I don't really have a problem with CNN being biased towards Democrats, and some of their hosts like Aaron Brown are quite open about it and that's ok. As for MSNBC, their ratings are down in the dumps and their feebily trying to "balance" the network...I'm not quite sure what they're doing, but it's not good.

Finally, might I add that when a party has few ideas and are so reactionary, it difficult not to be critical.

Elaine said...

"This doesn't address the fact that Chirac, Blix, and nearly everyone else thought that there were weapons."

It does. I said...inspections=deterrent; but furthermore, if you read the article, they became aware that sanctions during the 90s had rid of weapons buildup. What don't you think is answered, and do you have evidence?

"The media relishes in scandal of any kind: if there were something there, it would be a bigger deal, but there isn't."

Oy...terrible logic. If the media relishes in scandal, why didn't they pickup Watergate right away. They relish in certain scandals, plain and simple. Anyway, I think I provided you a good amount of logic and evidence; I expect the same.

Republicans only believe media bias because they live in a world where anything left of Fox (which is right of Gehngis Khan) is liberal. Take anyone on that network: Paula Zahn, Wolf Blitzer, Larry King, and the other anchors: these are establishment people who don't want to lose their jobs nor their access to Bush, and they will report in his favor as a result. Again, if you're going to claim "liberal media" (which only began during Nixon BECAUSE people were actually asking the guy a few questions FINALLY for being linked to a robbery)then please provide PROOF.

Elaine said...

My 2nd reference (Blitzer and the rest) was to CNN.

Elaine said...

Anyway, correct me if I'm wrong, but so often I feel like with Republicans, they have an idea about the essence of something ("it seems like...") without fact, whereas Democrats are very concerned with facts.

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chris said...

"If the media relishes in scandal, why didn't they pickup Watergate right away. They relish in certain scandals, plain and simple."

Firstly, Watergate was over thirty years ago...things do change. What certain scandals might these be? Democratic non-scandals or Republican non-scandals...how about both. However, to take one example: Gitmo. For weeks we have been hearing how horrible Gitmo is and how it's a "gulag," numerous front page stories in the NY Times and the Wash Post. So, last weekend congressmen went down there to inspect. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said, "I feel very good" about prisoner treatment there. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)said, "We have made progress [there]." And Ellen Tauscher (D-CA)asserted, "The Gitmo we saw today is not the Gimo that we heard about even a few years ago." Coverage in those two newspapers amounted to a blurb on page 19 in the Times, and nothing in the Post except for Wyden's comments in regard to more "concrete" rules. I have no doubt there are some problems there, but nothing that deserves the amount of invective and hyperbole its received from the press.

"Take anyone on that network: Paula Zahn, Wolf Blitzer, Larry King, and the other anchors: these are establishment people who don't want to lose their jobs nor their access to Bush, and they will report in his favor as a result."

Are you serious? Do you have any proof that they will lose favor with Bush? Or is this just speculation on your part?

"Anyway, correct me if I'm wrong, but so often I feel like with Republicans, they have an idea about the essence of something ("it seems like...") without fact, whereas Democrats are very concerned with facts."

To take your own example: The media has to be conservative or else it will fall out of favor with the administration or they'll be punished. I have no idea where this idea comes from. It's an assertion without any basis. Nice idea, I guess, but where are the facts?

Both parties are getting more emotional. But Democrats seem to have little logical arguments so that the few facts that they do have, they hyperbolize in their attempt to win some, if any, political gain (see Durbin, or Teddy K. any day). It's more of a gotcha-game than a debate. And the entrenchment has gotten so bad that Robert Wexler, a Democratic Congressman from Florida, was punished by his own party for merely putting forward his own Social Security plan. At least it was a proposal, an argument, something with substance.

Chris said...

However, as an example to how "very concerned" the House Minority leader is with facts, here's part of the transcript of her news conference on Thursday(entire thing found http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=49773).

"Q Later this morning, many Members of the House Republican leadership, along with John Cornyn from the Senate, are holding a news conference on eminent domain, the decision of the Supreme Court the other day, and they are going to offer legislation that would restrict it, prohibiting federal funds from being used in such a manner.

Two questions: What was your reaction to the Supreme Court decision on this topic, and what do you think about legislation to, in the minds of opponents at least, remedy or changing it?

Ms. Pelosi. As a Member of Congress, and actually all of us and anyone who holds a public office in our country, we take an oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Very central to that in that Constitution is the separation of powers. I believe that whatever you think about a particular decision of the Supreme Court, and I certainly have been in disagreement with them on many occasions, it is not appropriate for the Congress to say we're going to withhold funds for the Court because we don't like a decision.

Q Not on the Court, withhold funds from the eminent domain purchases that wouldn't involve public use. I apologize if I framed the question poorly. It wouldn't be withholding federal funds from the Court, but withhold Federal funds from eminent domain type purchases that are not just involved in public good.

Ms. Pelosi. Again, without focusing on the actual decision, just to say that when you withhold funds from enforcing a decision of the Supreme Court you are, in fact, nullifying a decision of the Supreme Court. This is in violation of the respect for separation of church -- powers in our Constitution, church and state as well. Sometimes the Republicans have a problem with that as well. But forgive my digression.

So the answer to your question is, I would oppose any legislation that says we would withhold funds for the enforcement of any decision of the Supreme Court no matter how opposed I am to that decision. And I'm not saying that I'm opposed to this decision, I'm just saying in general.

Q Could you talk about this decision? What you think of it?

Ms. Pelosi. It is a decision of the Supreme Court. If Congress wants to change it, it will require legislation of a level of a constitutional amendment. So this is almost as if God has spoken. It's an elementary discussion now. They have made the decision.

Q Do you think it is appropriate for municipalities to be able to use eminent domain to take land for economic development?

Ms. Pelosi. The Supreme Court has decided, knowing the particulars of this case, that that was appropriate, and so I would support that.

I don't know whether to laugh at the women's confusion or weep at her pontifical faith in the sacred Court.

Elaine said...

Between Jeff Gannon the reporter w/several aliases who got into the White House press corps sans background check, Armostrong Williams'the guy who was paid by the White House to make a fake news piece promoting No Child Left Behind, and Ari Fleischer's admission that there was a prepared list of reporters to call on during a Bush press conference, the media manipulation is clear. And here's this: "President Bush has set a new standard for dealing with the press, or as he calls them, "the filter." He and his White House staff hold the press in utter contempt. As White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card told The New Yorker last year: "They don't represent the public any more than other people do. In our democracy, the people who represent the public stood for election. I don't believe you have a check-and-balance function."

As a result, access to the Bush team is tightly controlled. If a reporter does get to talk with someone, they will likely hear the approved talking points of the day recited by rote. Every public event is completely scripted and held in front of hand-picked loyalists. Reporters that don't play along get frozen out." (http://www.american-reporter.com/2,661W/79.html)

Anyway, I think I've said enough, especially since you've provided nothing to back up your position, which I think is fair since I have informed my position quite extensively.

As for the Nancy Pelosi thing, I'm not exactly sure what your point is. Pelosi expresses a refrain that has come from the mouths of many conservatives (when they agree w/a court decision), do what the court says--it's the law. She's right, that's how separation of powers works, which is why it's so important to have a fair court makeup. I don't agree w/the Kelo decision, as you know, but I still think Pelosi is just making a standard point. So I'm not sure what point you were trying to prove with that excerpt.

Elaine said...

Finally, I will say this. I look forward to reading your blog and will link to it. Finally, I have a question, you clearly have the intelligence and leadership skills to help out in a country like Iraq for a war that you support; why don't you and others like you go there?

Elaine said...

As for Guantanmo Bay, if things are getting better there (and that is debatable), that would owe to media coverage, that is the coverage of Guantanamo made officials accountable.

Chris said...

My point about the Pelosi Q&A is that she didn’t even listen to the question. She thinks Congress is planning on taking funding away from the Supreme Court? Nobody is talking about withholding funds from the Court or from enforcement of the Court's decision. What is being discussed is limiting the use of a governmental practice that the Court considers constitutional. How is changing federal eminent domain law a violation of separation of church and state? Contrary to Ms. Pelosi, the Supreme Court decides disagreements over law, but it is hardly more powerful than the other branches of government because it was never supposed to effectively legislate via its decisions. With the right replacements, the Court will be able to reverse itself on Kelo in a couple of years. Anyway, when the Court makes a decision she's not happy with, she's not going to be able to criticize it, since "it's almost as if God has spoken."

I definitely have problems with Gannon thing and the appearance of impropriety in the Williams affair. I don’t have a problem with the White House having contempt for the press because much of the press has just much for the White House, for one example, Helen Thomas (http://slate.msn.com/id/2080034/). Your article from some guy in Vermont hardly amounts to a credible source of reporting. As for “PROOF,” for loads of it regarding the media I suggest you scroll around at the Media Blog (http://media.nationalreview.com/archives.asp). Your claim of some conspiracy by the White House to hush up anchors is absolutely ridiculous. Apparently you’ve been watching so much “Dem bashing” on Fox that you’ve missed “inside politics,” Anderson Cooper’s show, and Aaron Brown’s show. Or maybe you’ve forgotten about that “fake but accurate” document broadcast by Dan Rather at CBS. The media is too large and diverse to have pander to POTUS.
As to your claim that I haven’t provided anything to back up my positions. Rubbish. We started out with Cavuto. I said it was a dumb question, but I provided the Bush’s answer to demonstrate that it was a question that the President himself didn’t regard as legitimate, thus he launched into a mini-speech on Social Security, and being a leader in DC in spite of the Democrats. Cavuto also asked him twice about shutting down Gitmo, he also made your own point: Maybe you (Bush) aren’t getting anywhere because the ideas aren’t favored by the people? Anyway, read former Dukakis Campaign Manager Susan Estrich’s take on working for Fox (http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0621/p09s02-coop.html) : ‘Mr. Cavuto, a Fox News anchor, sat down to do an interview with George Bush last week on his business show. He didn't discuss Iraq. Cavuto doesn't cover Iraq. As far as I know, he had nothing new to ask him, nothing new to add, and no important new question to pose. In fact, the president had nothing new to say on the topic. There was no news to be made on Iraq. So Cavuto didn't use the opportunity either to beat up on the president or to let him say something we'd heard a hundred times. Instead, he asked him questions he didn't know the answer to, where he might get an answer he hadn't already heard.”
As to the Hitchens’ article. That’s quite a condemnation. I lead you to the Duelfer Report (http://www.cia.gov/cia/reports/iraq_wmd_2004/contents.html) for information on all of this. There’s just too much info to reproduce here. "However,sanctions were rapidly eroding. Unscom was aware of this erosion but not to the degree that apparently developed post 1998. The accounts of bribery of officials from several countries that were pushing for lifting or weakening sanctions are legend and have been extensively reported this past week. Inspections can not be effective without the full support of the U.N. Security Council" (http://www.defenddemocracy.org/research_topics/research_topics_show.htm?doc_id=242996). Also, more on the boring nature of the Downing Street Memo (http://media.nationalreview.com/066812.asp).
As for why Iraq. Here’s my own take. Iraq is the central location in the Middle East, part of the cradle of Western civilization. We had fought a war there in the early 1990s and did not complete it. We knew that Saddam had had weapons, a horrific dictator, and that he was involved in promoting terrorism around the Middle East, if not the world (see Duelfer Report). By getting democratizing the historical and geographical center of the Middle East, it is idealistically thought that freedom is contagious and that others in the region will begin to implement their own reforms (ie. Libya, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia & Egypt to a smaller extent). However, by invading the country you have given the terrorists a closer and more immediate threat/target: US troops, and people under a democratic system. We already know that Osama bin Laden has handed over power to Zarqawi who was in Iraq to begin with; it’s not like we stopped our action in Afghanistan.

Elaine said...

"Iraq is the central location in the Middle East, part of the cradle of Western civilization. We had fought a war there in the early 1990s and did not complete it. We knew that Saddam had had weapons, a horrific dictator, and that he was involved in promoting terrorism around the Middle East, if not the world (see Duelfer Report). By getting democratizing the historical and geographical center of the Middle East, it is idealistically thought that freedom is contagious and that others in the region will begin to implement their own reforms (ie. Libya, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia & Egypt to a smaller extent)."

I would expect a Republican not to buy the idea that foreign intervention spreads democracy, since not so long ago Republicans were against "nation building". Anyway, domino theory policy through invasion is lunacy. Democracy has been proven to spread when U.S. has provided aid and relinquished some of its military presence, like in Western Europe in the late 1940s. Furthermore, war, a grave and costly endeavor, should be a last resort, which was not at all the circumstances surrounding Iraq, especially since there were no WMDs. Basically, invasion of Iraq has resulted in destabilzation of the region and more terrorist activity. Terrorists have come to Iraq because they see it as anarchical and a good base. Neighboring countries like Iran are getting more extreme. Republicans may think it preposterous that other peoples hate an American presence abroad, but they do, and we have to deal with what exists, not what should exist. I think saying Iraq is the cradle of civilization and thus an attractive target is a pretty vague reason for war. There needs to be solid reasoning for war: we've been attacked, we will be attacked, where, when. Furthermore, I don't see why Saddam is the only dictator the U.S. is actively concerned with. Sadly Saddam was not even the worst dictator, and concerning our immediate security interests, he hated Al Quaeda and ruled over a secular regime. Of course, some oversimplifying Republican would jump down my throat saying I like Saddam, but my point is that strategically, in the "War on Terror" Saddam was hardly the most immediate threat. I mean why not invade Libya, Syria, North Korea, if we're worried about cruel dictators?

Finally, you didn't answer my question of whether you would go to Iraq. Why do people who find the reasons for war so compelling not volunteer?

Elaine said...

I think you may be misinterpreting Pelosi.

"She thinks Congress is planning on taking funding away from the Supreme Court? Nobody is talking about withholding funds from the Court or from enforcement of the Court's decision."
No she doesn't. First she misunderstood the question. Then she said this,

"when you withhold funds from enforcing a decision of the Supreme Court you are, in fact, nullifying a decision of the Supreme Court."

She is saying that if Congress denies funding for projects similar to New London, they are usupring the Supreme Court decision's authority. What Congress needs to do is pass a law against using eminent domain for private interests rather then withhold funds. Withholding funds on school desegregation measures, for instance, would have usurped the ruling of Brown v. Board of Education. I think her point is perfect clear and informed, which is why I don't understand why you used it as an example. It's fine if you disagree with it, but I don't think it proves your point.

Chris said...

I was getting to that answer. First, though.

"Democracy has been proven to spread when U.S. has provided aid and relinquished some of its military presence, like in Western Europe in the late 1940s."

But we're still there 60 years on. Granted the Nazi "insurgency" was not as bad as the current campaign, but they played by some of the rules of war.

"Basically, invasion of Iraq has resulted in destabilzation of the region and more terrorist activity. Terrorists have come to Iraq because they see it as anarchical and a good base."

Look, I think I've tried to explain this on this blog before, when you have power concentrated in one place (ie. Saddam, King Louis XVI, Hapsburgs) under an authoritarian regime, and then one democratizes it, it's going to be violent (French Revolution, Slavic rebellion pre-WWI) because you are attempting to prevent a power vacuum and disperse power amongst the population. Jack Snyder's From Voting to Violence is a great book that explains this in the context of nationalism. The difference here is that Iraqi nationalism is against the terrorists, many of whom are coming from other countries.

To say that Saddam wasn't the worst is to avoid the issue. Libya, btw, has given up its weapons programs; and Syria is being worked on (it's no longer in Lebanon). The fact is, there is a problem with radical Islamic terrorists in the world. We know that Saddam helped finance Palestinian suicide bombers, that he allowed Zarqawi to find refuge in Baghdad. To say that there should be one, and only factor, is ridiculous: being a dictator in the very region in which such despotism helped cause some of this radical ideology.

To cite Iran as evidence of futher radicalization is wrong, since the election was clearly not valid: more people voted for the incumbant candidate in the first ballot (about 10% more). Most of the other candidates were reformers and only the mayor of Tehran was a hardliner. Somehow, the hardliner's vote increased by 35% during the run-off; additionally, most of the people of Tehran didn't even vote for him. The rest of the region seems to be doing quite well: Israel is dealing with Jewish settlers refusing to leave Gaza, not Palestinian bombers, Lebanon just had an election and got rid of Syria. It seems that, with the exception of Iran, we've destablized the despots in the region.

As to your question about volunteering, aside from the fact that I would suck at being a soldier, I've been thinking about it - a visit to Walter Reed brought that on. But so far, there are couple reasons I haven't gone and signed myself up: 1) I'm a liberal arts student- someone has to stay and teach the kinder. 2) This is a two-front war. You have the terrorists in Iraq and those in this country who would love to see this entire endeavour fail. It's a fight against nihilism - Islamic and Western. Don't give me the "I support the troops, not the war" line - I'm not against criticism, but failing to believe even partially in this cause, which quite frankly, is very Wilsonian, only hurts morale. With the exception of those who signed up for an easy out, the troops believe in the cause. It's a volunteer army for those who want to fight - that's what an army does, btw.

Final question: you advocate for a draft bill. Unfortunately, you and the rest of the critics are citizens of this country - such a bill would trample on your precious ideals of equality. It's the tendency towards such statist authoritarianism that scares me so much about those on your side of the political spectrum. Do you really hate us that much?

Elaine said...

"I definitely have problems with Gannon thing and the appearance of impropriety in the Williams affair. I don’t have a problem with the White House having contempt for the press because much of the press"

Well if you have problems with Gannon and Armstrong Williams (though it's hardly just an "appearance of impropriety"), shouldn't you acknowledge that there is some degree of media manipulation on the part of Bush? Also, you're putting the cart before the horse; the mainstream media doesn't hate Bush; the few who dislike him (like Thomas, who is right) have pretty legitimate reasons, for it.

"Your article from some guy in Vermont hardly amounts to a credible source of reporting."

Why don't you forget the label and dispute what he says about Bush freezing disagreeable media members out? It's pretty common knowledge that Bush takes unprecedented measures to sanction reporters he doesn't like. Howard Kurtz even admits it (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A16391-2005Mar8.html), though in typical Kurtz, mainstream media fashion, does not seem very troubled.

You gave me a link to the National Review, which I can't say I would look to as the bible of media bias, but I did check out some of the complaints and thought they were nitpicky or not really illustrating the bias they thought was there. For instance, they get mad that Christopher Shays is represented as a Republican in a headline because he criticized the administration on something. Shays is a Republican, a moderate by today's far right standards yes, but a Republican. What more does National Review want?

Elaine said...

"The fact is, there is a problem with radical Islamic terrorists in the world. We know that Saddam helped finance Palestinian suicide bombers, that he allowed Zarqawi to find refuge in Baghdad."

Why not target Saudi Arabia, which has funded Al Quaeda and Palestinian terrorists (and every other terrorist, it seems)? Don't you see though, by citing the Palestinian example (and Saddam's method of fuding was giving money to terrorists' families, but anyway) that you are acknowledging Saddam had nothing to do with Al Quaeda, which is supposed to be our huge concern? They were the ones behind the World Trade Center attack after all. Saddam had little connection with Islamic fundamentalism as a secular dictator. I of course have serious problems with Saddam's treatment of his population, but their situation hasn't gotten better, nor has the situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories through invading Iraq. What you may not realize is that there is a huge strategic (as well as moral) problem with the Iraq mission. The fact that our country was lied to about why we were going in doesn't help either.

"when you have power concentrated in one place (ie. Saddam, King Louis XVI, Hapsburgs) under an authoritarian regime, and then one democratizes it, it's going to be violent (French Revolution, Slavic rebellion pre-WWI) because you are attempting to prevent a power vacuum and disperse power amongst the population"

Your other examples are insurgencies that attempted to promote democratization of some form, not a foreign invasion. I think just saying we should expect and accept violence is pretty callous. Many of the Iraqi people have to witness suicide bombings or fall victim to them. Many American soldiers get killed. Violence isn't somehting that we should just accept if we don't have to.

"you advocate for a draft bill. Unfortunately, you and the rest of the critics are citizens of this country - such a bill would trample on your precious ideals of equality. It's the tendency towards such statist authoritarianism that scares me so much about those on your side of the political spectrum. Do you really hate us that much?"

I am just suggesting people who support the war go and fight it. You clearly have a problem with going, which I would too, but I don't support the war. If you support the war, you currently think that some people are fit to go out and fight; by your logic, does that mean you hate them?

Anyhow, you phrase it as if people want to go to war and as if everyone supports it. You paint a simple picture.

"I'm not against criticism, but failing to believe even partially in this cause, which quite frankly, is very Wilsonian, only hurts morale. With the exception of those who signed up for an easy out, the troops believe in the cause. It's a volunteer army for those who want to fight - that's what an army does, btw."

So you are against criticism. Here my side is authoritarian, but you don't approve of criticism, which is a constitutional right. Criticism=correction=improvement. It's kind of unfair to accuse someone who went off to fight in Iraq as signing up for an "easy out." Sure it's a volunteer army, but people go for reasons often having to do with needing money. Why do you think recruitment has gone down? Because people don't want to fight in Iraq.

I dont like to say this, but your reason for not going seems like a cop out. The army needs everyone who supports what they've been ordered to do in Iraq, and if being uncritical of the administration helps morale, surely it will be a boost if more true supporters of the war go over there. One shouldn't just waltz through life with an attitude that some people are more fit to sacrifice their lives than others.

"You have the terrorists in Iraq and those in this country who would love to see this entire endeavour fail."

Wow, that's a harsh accusation. We don't want to see a country undergo daily violence, and we don't want our soldiers, fellow Americans, to fight a difficult, deadly war that shouldn't be fought.

Also, are you saying that "the war at home" constitutes fighting all of the people who disagree with the war? I mean, if you're going to accuse my side of authoritarianism....

Yes, the army is for fighting, but it should be fighting for defense purposes. It is no reason to just start a war by saying that's what an army does.

Anyway, this will probably be my last comment on this issue.

Chris said...

There was no implication of violence in my characterization of the war at home. It consists of lively debates like the one we're having now. You take my view that there might be some aspects of this issue that you maybe could support to mean that I want you to support all of it and say nothing bad. That's just wrong. Having spoken with a few higher-ups in the army, they went into this war unprepared because they didn't fight for over ten years, and video games just don't cut it, so they looked forward to the opportunity. That may seem horrible to you (as it seems weird to me), it makes sense if you need a force for national defense.

To tell me that my reasons are ridiculous. There's actually another reason (one which you know quite well) that would relegate me to a desk job at the Pentagon even if I did volunteer. I guess I could go feed the starving people in Sudan or go the Mexican border and be a Minuteman too (both causes that I support). Will you go to Iran and fight for women's rights? Or Darfur? The fact that no one disagrees those are good causes and that a lot more could be done should make the reasons for going even more compelling.

Anyway, I'm done. I'm getting in trouble for spending to much time on your blog. I hope to post a pleasant comment soon.

Elaine said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Elaine said...

"There was no implication of violence in my characterization of the war at home. It consists of lively debates like the one we're having now."

Well I agree with that.

And so concludes a record number of comments for a blog entry on this site. Too bad half of the comments were from me.

Yeah, I'm taking a break from politics with my next couple posts, as much as I do value talking about it.