Saturday, October 22, 2005

Dinner party politics and how to avoid them

I think I'm making progress.

A year or two ago, when I would go to a party and the inevitable comments would come up, apropos of nothing--Bush is evil, Michael Moore's movie is the repository of Speaking Truth to Power, those Swift Vets are a pack of Republican lying scum and vicious attack dogs, etc. etc. etc.; I would turn red in the face and have to leave and go cool off.

And now? Now when I go to a party and the inevitable comments come up, apropos of nothing--Bush is evil, we are a pack of murdering marauders in Iraq, Abu Ghraib was the equivalent of the political killings and imprisonments in Iran under the mullahs, etc. etc. etc.; I turn red in the face and have to leave and go cool off.

You don't see the difference, you say? Well, here's the difference:

(a) The comments no longer surprise me.
(b) I no longer get quite as red in the face, and my cooloff period is shorter.
(c) When I return, I don't try to argue with or convince anyone (i.e., I've given up on logic and facts, and have accepted that this is the way it is with certain people).
(d) The intensity of my need to talk about these things is somewhat mitigated by the fact that we're no longer facing the possible election of John Kerry.
(e) The intensity of my need to talk about these things is somewhat mitigated by the fact that I have a blog.

All in all, I consider that progress. You may not. But at least it makes get-togethers a bit easier for me.

One thing it does drive home when it happens again--as it did last night--is that most intelligent liberal people still consider what they read in the MSM to be the simple, unadorned, basic Truth. And not just to Power.

[ADDENDUM: Oops! Sorry I failed to make myself clear. I'd alluded to this before, in my "about me" section, but from responses in the comments section I can see that, obviously, I need to say it again and say it clearly: I'm fully out of the political closet, perhaps even obnoxiously so. At last night's get-together, everyone present knew full well exactly how I feel. I've had it out with all of them many times, and I've given up.

I've also spoken up with strangers, and I find that if there is a certain level of reasonableness to their comments, we can have a conversation. If they're way over the top, I know at the outset--from bitter and repeated experience--it will be fruitless. Sometimes I don't speak up then, and sometimes I just say a sentence of disagreement and move on.

Rest assured though, I'm one of the more vocal people on this issue. It's cost me a lot of grief and I've gotten a lot of flak for it, and I soldier on--just not again and again with the same people.

And please don't tell me to make new friends! Or rather, you can tell me, but my answer is that I like these people and enjoy their presence. They just turn into Jekyl-Hyde dimwits when politics rears its ugly head.]


At 1:58 PM, October 22, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Consider another scenario: after half a lifetime in the straight community, you've discovered you're gay. Or perhaps, instead, you're in a relationship with a person of another race. Your dinner companions make a number of derisive comments about lesbians, or entertain you with racist jokes.

Do you congragulate yourself on your "progress" for walking away and saying nothing because "they'll never change"?

Or would "progress" better be measured by whether you felt confident enough to share *your* opinions with these folks as they do with you? What is wrong with saying something along the lines of "Pardon me, but I'm a member of that group you're maligning"?

Somebody needs to come out of the closet.

At 2:05 PM, October 22, 2005, Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

Anaonymous, I seem to have shown remarkably poor judgement in my life in that way: speaking up when I should let it go, letting it go when I should speak up. I can well understand your stance, and that is also my first instinct as well.

But I have had success keeping silent, as one fairly regularly finds one person in the group who later asks "were you insulted?" or "did you feel you couldn't say anything?" That person now hears you, whereas before, perhaps none would.

It's wonderful advice, and if you ever encounter me in a social situation, remind me how much wiser that would be than the argument I've gotten into.

At 2:28 PM, October 22, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I go to a dinner party in St. Louis, MO, the inevitable comments are straight from Coulter, O'Reilly and Limbaugh: the Democrats have been a "party of treason," (yeah, HST and JFK were paid agents of the Commie conspiracy or its unwitting dupes)and the treatment of detainees by our troops (Abu or the 82nd Airborne) were no worse than "college fraternity hazing."
Problem is, there may be little thoughtful and accurate criticism of Bush among the New England liberals, but there is equally little thoughtful assessment of a liberal point of view among heartland conservatives. Those days, when either side could produce something you wanted to chew on, may be close to over.

But why pick on the dread MSM? They are in business to sell papers or TV programs. Thoughtful, ambivalent, and nuanced stories, framed by history, do not sell. And the NYT or WaPost, well, they're trying to capture a share of the 18-34 market, so they are 80% lifestyle(The NYT now has two "Style" sections--Sunday and Thursday) 10% Judith Miller sensationalism and disinformation, leaving 10% for honest reporting--mostly on municipal issues.

At 2:37 PM, October 22, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NNC, when topics like this come up at a dinner party, that's exactly the time *not* to walk away. People assert these outrageous things because they assume the entire gathering is entirely in-synch with them. If no one demurs, they go on assuming that, and the echo chamber effect goes on. (Ironically, they are the people who suffer most from this, shocked and appalled as they were to suddenly realize 51% of the country thought otherwise.)

You'd further be mistaken in assuming that *everyone* at the party is in synch with those opinions, which generally come from the loudest but never the most informed person in the room. Recall that at peak, 80% of the country supported taking down Saddam, and even in the bluest regions of the bluest states, a liberal hawk case was formed around the arguments of Ken Pollack, Paul Berman, and Hitchens, a case that begins, roughly, "George Bush is a horrible president, but he's right about Saddam..."

It's enough in these situations, I've found, to respond to such a comment with "That's a little simplistic, don't you think?" Then after they get over the shock, explain, in a nuanced way-- being careful to criticize Bush first, since that is the key to entering a closed mind-- why I think that. I've been to numerous parties in the Upper West Side and San Francisco and Berkeley, and saying, "That's a little simplistic" has never failed to bring out at least partial agreement from one or two others in the room.

And the thing is, the more you point out something's a little simplistic, the more of your peers who somewhat agree with you will be emboldened to also say that-- and more key, the more people who think they can assert such simplicities will be leery of blathering so freely.

At 3:00 PM, October 22, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll echo the comments of the matters to express one's disagreement, both in terms of changing the complexion of the argument - deflating their expectations that 'everyone they know' feels that way - and in legitimizing your own views.


At 3:26 PM, October 22, 2005, Blogger neo-neocon said...

Sorry I failed to make myself clear. I'd alluded to this before, in my "about me" section, but obviously I need to say it again:

I'm fully out of the closet, perhaps even obnoxiously so. At last night's get-together, everyone present knew full well exactly how I feel. I had it out with all of them many times, and I've given up.

I've also done so with strangers, and I find that if there is a certain level of reasonableness to their comments, we can have a conversation. If they're way over the top, I know it's fruitless. Sometimes I don't speak up then, and sometimes I just say a sentence of disagreement and move on.

Rest assured though, I'm one of the more vocal people on this issue. It's cost me a lot of grief and I've gotten a lot of flak for it, and I soldier on--but not again and again with the same people.

And please don't tell me to make new friends! Or rather, you can tell me, but my answer is that I like these people and enjoy their presence. They just turn into Jekyl-Hyde dimwits when politics rears its ugly head.

At 4:15 PM, October 22, 2005, Blogger Promethea said...

I've given up trying to convert people because I'm faced with the fact that LLLism is their religion. However, I no longer get mad, nor believe that the opinions of the LLLs are as important as the LLLs think they are. In a social situation, I've come to chuckle inwardly and feel obnoxiously superior to the so-called informed who believe in Maureen Dowd's rants and Chimpy McBushhitler's stupidity.

Occasionally, I'll try to talk to acquaintances, but usually discover that if they disagree, they'll quickly make a joke and change the subject because they can't answer my arguments. I've often thought I should keep notes on thias behavior because it's interesting--kind of like acat's behavior if you jiggle a shoelace at it. The cat can't help but bat at the shoelace, and the LLL can't help but make a little joke and change the subject.

OK, I admit it. I'm probably obnoxious because I know so many more factoids that the LLLs do (like the battle of River Gate, the splits in the Saudi government, the Duelfer commission's report--that kind of "esoterica." But the fact is--most LLLs want to BELIEVE their beliefs. They do NOT want to rethink their viewpoints. They are comfortable where they are.

At 5:11 PM, October 22, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'm probably obnoxious because I know so many more factoids than the LLLs do"

More likely because you think you do.

So liberals are deluded and ignorant. Why not get over them then?

Why not talk directly to Iraqis?

Neo-neocon, your blog could attract a lot of attention by running a month-long experiment, translating your posts and your regulars' comments into arabic, and translating arabic visitors' comments into english.

Get some grad students involved and you'd easily land research funding to pay for the translation.


At 5:38 PM, October 22, 2005, Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ erasmus

Yeah, I'm sure the complain about the liberalism of Truman and Kennedy all the time out there.

You again cannot make your point without exaggerating the views of your opponents. And I suspect there is something in what you say, if you would only make the case.

At 6:09 PM, October 22, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My parents have very good friends who came from Great Britain, by way of Canada some years ago. My folks are quite the conservative Republicans. Their friends, reared in the socialist Utopia that was Great Britain, are staunch Democrats.

After a few blow-ups during the 2000 election cycle, they stopped speaking to, or seeing each other. Then, they simply stopped ever discussing politics, and went back to seeing each other. They liked each other's company too much to let politics get between them.

That's as it ought to be.

Me, I think my folk's friends are raving loonies on politics, but ... *shrug*

At 6:13 PM, October 22, 2005, Blogger Linda Fox said...

I've found the phrase "Do you really think so?" to be useful. It indicates a skeptism with the received wisdom, and keeps them from that smug feeling that "EVERYBODY" agrees with them. Without hearing that gentle dissent from time to time, the Liberals do get out of touch with reality.

At 6:58 PM, October 22, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find that discussions of politics most resemble religious debate. And the two are often closely related. NNC, you have the right approach. We don't all agree about religion, but we can manage to get along jsut fine in social situations. Politics are no different. We may not agree with our friends' point of view, but that shouldn't spoil a friendship or even a casual social occasion.

At 9:33 PM, October 22, 2005, Blogger Daniel in Brookline said...

Slightly off-topic -- a while ago, my social circle seemed to include many people who used over-the-top metaphors habitually. It got so they didn't realize they were doing it; it took a dose of perspective to realize how ridiculous their words were, if taken literally.

Example: a computer guy who'd made a study of ergonomics, who was arguing against wrist rests for mousepads. His comment: "What I'd recommend is that you take away the wrist rest and use one made of razor blades instead; it'd be better for you." I shudder to think that anyone ever took him seriously.

Similarly, I once overheard a co-worker, during a friendly bull session in the lunchroom, comment cheerfully that he wouldn't mind if someone were to assassinate the President and he were to die screaming in agony... although he wouldn't want to pull the trigger himself. I didn't bother stepping in; reason had clearly left the building at that point.

People who talk this way are not necessarily irrational (although, as NNC commented, talking politics with such people is an uphill battle at best). Sometimes they're just used to doing this -- a need for attention, perhaps? (Think of what motivates a child to be deliberately outrageous.)

Daniel in Brookline

At 9:36 PM, October 22, 2005, Blogger James Becker said...

Hi Neo,

I've often had thoughts of trying this conversation with someone who opposes the war in Iraq. I haven't had the chance, though. If you get the chance, and you actually try it, you'll have to let us know if it works:

Me (innocently): One thing I can't figure out about the insurgents in Iraq. Why are they shooting at us?

Opponent: What do you mean, why are they shooting at us, we invaded their country, isn't it obvious? Wouldn't you shoot at someone who invades your country?

Me (keeping up the innocence tone): Well yea, I guess. But it seems like they wouldn't just shoot at us because they are upset or mad at our actions. They would probably have sort of our goal in mind. Something that they hope to accomplish by shooting at us.

Opponent: Well they want us to leave. We invaded them, and they want us out.

Me: I guess I've heard that answer before, but there is something that doesn't make sense about it to me.

We don't really want to be there. We would be happy to leave. The only thing that keeps us there is that they keep shooting at us. If they would stop shooting at us, we would go home. So why don't they stop shooting at us and we will leave?

Opponent: Well, they don't want us running their country with some sort of puppet government that George runs from Texas.

Me: Yea, I guess. But what sort of government do they want? What government/country would they be happy with?


The conversation could then continue in several different directions from there, but I think in the whole war conversation, it would be helpful for a opponent of the war to admit that the war really is about ideology, not certain groups 'being mad' at America.

Once the've admitted that, the rest of the discussion can revolve around the moral issue of whether any ideology is worth fighting over - which I think is more productive and subtle than the badness or goodness of "George W's War".

James Becker

At 10:26 PM, October 22, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes, liberals are clueless when it comes to all things foreign affairs/national defense. you folks have it all figured out. we oppose this war in iraq because we are incapable of grasping and therefore object the very quaint idea that spreading democracy throughout the world is in our best national interest, not for the silly reason that we think perhaps there may be a better way to go about doing it (ala Francis Fukuyama's view (not exactly a lily-livered liberal).

At 10:58 PM, October 22, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Btw, congratulations on the quagmire that you folks help create. yes, freedom is on the march...say it often enough and you should be able to convince yourself that despite the utter mess that is going on over there and the complete failure of Bush and co, the end will justify the means. I'm sure you folks will be able to somehow rationalize that the oxymoronic notion of a democratic islamic state is acceptable. and the fact that 2000 of your fellow americans and countless Iraqis have been sacrificed, shouldn't give you pause or concern that perhaps that there ought to be a better way.

At 11:29 PM, October 22, 2005, Blogger sammy small said...

Yes, I so agree with Anonymous. This utter mess of a quagmire in Iraq is so…well, messy! Why couldn’t chimpymcbushitler just leave well enough alone in the middle east. He lied and then made a big mess. Nothing is worth making a mess over… ever! The world would just so much better without our mess in the middle east. Lets just pull the troops out, clean up our mess, and then get back to our favorite reality shows and celebrity scandals again. Then the middle east can get back to making nice like they did in the past. OK, deal?

At 12:52 AM, October 23, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't wait for Al-Jazeera to start broadcasting in the USA. I swear, that day can't come too soon.


MIT lecture on The Arab Discourse

Lecture description:
Today, says Mirazi, there is widespread outrage at the U.S. occupation of Iraq. "If you don't say, 'We made a mistake and there were no WMDS (Weapons of Mass Destruction)', but instead switch to saying 'We did it for democracy, reform and the region,' you're giving ammunition to people who question anything coming out of Washington." Another issue for Arabs is Washington's fight against terrorism. Says Mirazi, "It doesn't look nice that you want to battle in Arab backyards rather than your own." Mirazi says that many Arabs believe the U.S. is occupying Iraq "because of a desire for hegemony on Arab oil," and that the U.S. will next target Iran and Syria. He describes a scornful attitude toward the stated American agenda of establishing a democratic model in the Middle East. Arabs believe that the U.S. has instead created anarchy in Iraq by dissolving the Iraqi Army, which "helped in protection and law and order of the country." They also view the U.S. shaping Iraq along sectarian lines -- the "Lebanonization of Iraq, by design and intention." Why not, Arabs wonder, be pragmatic and "deal with political Islam" to stitch the country's factions together? While the U.S. projects a success story about democracy, Arab media like Al-Jazeera describe "lessons about the severe limits of power. When it comes to the end game, you will have a problem controlling 10 miles of highway between the green zone in Baghdad and the airport."

At 7:16 AM, October 23, 2005, Blogger terrye said...

My brother and I had to stop talking about politics.

I have a friend whose daughter in law told her she was "stupid" for voting for Bush. So much for free babysitting.

The Iraqis just had an election and the left could care less.

The same people who obsess over every vote being counted are not in the least concerned with the voting in Iraq.

The same people who call Bush a liar over wmd are not in the least concerned with the fact that it was people like the Democrat George Tenet who helped come up with the the intelligence concerning wmd stockpiles. They are not even concerned with what Sandy Berger might have been stuffing in his pants.

They do not care about Saddam deliberately breaking the cease fire agreement or anything of that.

They will act as if the few soldiers involved in the AbuGhraib scandal are typical of the entire military but completely ignore the torture and rape rooms of Saddam, the mass graves, the childrens prisons...the fact that Saddam Hussein killed more Muslims than the Crusaders.

I am not saying liberals are stupid, I am saying they make a point of deluding themselves.

I have read Resolution 1441, as well as several of the other mandatory resolutions.

I have read the Congressional Resolution that gave Bush the authority to go into Iraq, and there is a lot more to it than wmd.

I have read about the moth balled weapons porgrams in the Deufler Report.

I have read about Saddam's attempt to kill a president.

I have read about Saddam's sheltering of a terrorist involved in the first attack on the WTC in 1993.

I have read about Kaddafi's decision to disarm after the invasion of Iraq and the discovery of Dr. Kahn's attempts to sell weapons technology. These are not small and inconsequential things, but the liberals are completely unimpressed.

Half the lefties I talk to are convinced there is a nonexistent pipeline in the mideast.

They think Tony Blair went to war for Haliburton.

They believe every bizarre conspiracy theory that comes their way and often as not think you are an idiot if you don't believe them as well.

As for the Iraqis themselves..there are millions of Iraqis who are glad Saddam is gone and they just want to have a decent government. But most liberals I know just discount them as CIA plants or cowards.

So what is the point talking to people with this mindset?

For years I was on the left myself and all they did was bitch and moan because our government tolerated fascist governments.

Now they are bitching and moaning because in this one instance our government did not.

At 8:40 AM, October 23, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Assistant Village Idiot:

Many of the people I do meet in St. Louis echo the views of the "personalities" they listen to, including the charges from the likes of Ann Coulter.

BUT: I do not regard them as my "opponents." That language and mindset is all yours. Nor am I trying to "make a case." This is not a legal issue, but perhaps there are many like you who immediately turn it into an "us v. them" matter.
You don't get why that is so stifling to discourse. And that is sad. Be happy in your certainties.

At 9:14 AM, October 23, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's good to hear you're making progress neo-neocon. I have the same problem you do, living in Boston, surrounded by smart people who are seemingly nuts when it comes to Bush or the War in Iraq. There's not much that can be done about it.

You can't force someone into agreement. If they don't want to agree about something (let's say, for example, the tenet of faith that Rumsfeld is responsible for war crimes), they can keep holding faith in their conviction until the end of days. It's just part of how the brain works.

So, there is only so much you can accomplish in protesting these bizarro claims. It seems more fruitful to me to focus on a small neutral detail or two and discuss/refute those without attacking those tenets of faith. Then move the conversation on to more pleasant topics. You've worked off some of the immediate frustration, and people will happily be rational about small things, so you might get some agreement.

I also like to think of myself as a representative for conservative thought. Most people around here think that conservatives eat fresh babies sauted in light sweet crude oil for breakfast. Being pleasant, articulate, and pointing out that, at bottom, both sides strive for the same ideals (mostly--avoid mentioning that socialism is crazytalk) helps these poor souls start to work out of their prejudices. Being a credible voice for rational thought is satisfying even if you get no one to change their mind.

Basically, all you're doing is softening up the ground so that, one glorious day, when your liberal friends have their moment of reality, they can say "Well it's not THAT bad to think this way, look at neo-neocon--she's not the devil. I'll just try this out for a bit. I can always go back..."

-johnjay. I have a blogger id, but I can't remember the password...

At 11:10 AM, October 23, 2005, Blogger Brad said...

Anon says and quotes:
"I can't wait for Al-Jazeera to start broadcasting in the USA. I swear, that day can't come too soon.


"It doesn't look nice that you want to battle in Arab backyards rather than your own."

This must be parody. It must be, because if it isn't...

At 11:11 AM, October 23, 2005, Blogger knox said...

It's inconceivable to liberals that anyone could support the war--which in their minds is inextricably linked to Bush's nefarious schemes. I used to try to argue--reasonably--about the war, bringing up facts, etc. It also makes no difference. I admire anyone who speaks up... I gave up quite a while ago.

excellent comment, terrye... perfect examples.

N-NC, just know when you're in such a situation, you are not alone! Obviously, many of us have endured similar aggravating situations, where people who should know better spout extreme views and ridiculous conspiracy theories... and, worse, *intentionally* do so when they know you don't agree and you're outnumbered.

I really don't know how to account for it, except for blinding self-righteousness of the sort you only encounter from religious extremists.

At 1:05 PM, October 23, 2005, Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

erasmus, if you could condescend just a bit less, perhaps I wouldn't be so quickly moved to an us vs. them mentality. My recollection is that you think religious zealots are trying to dictate to the rest of the country. That should encourage open conversation with them. Not that you're their opponent or anything.

As a person good at condescending myself, I can pick it up pretty quickly in others...

At 1:43 PM, October 23, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Assistant Village Idiot:

But I was responding to the topic here. Neo presented anecdotal evidence of experiences with a certain type of liberal mindset in New England I then described a similar mindset among some conservatives in Missouri. I was suggesting that this habit of thought exists on both sides of the political fence. I added a paragraph about the MSM. Not a word about religion.
On another thread, I cited one book (although there are many more)that deals with the desire among certain elements in the Christian right to establish the supremacy of Biblical law in this country. Please note the modifiers. How serious a threat they pose, if indeed one considers them a threat, is open to debate.
Now, why or how was any of this condescending?

At 1:57 PM, October 23, 2005, Blogger Troy Stephens said...

Neo: I sympathize, and wish you the best. I've struggled to develop a workable way of dealing with such situations myself, and am certainly no farther along in the process than you. Somewhere between avoidance and engagement, I keep hoping, lies an approach I have yet to work out that will fare better than either of those alone has. But it's not a remotely easy problem, and having to fight back the involuntary emotional response that seems to inevitably grip me when the angry or derisive words start to fly only makes it more difficult. (Sometimes, as you noted, the only thing to do is walk away and cool down.) I find myself caught between not wanting to create a still more unpleasant situation for others in what I thought was to be a friendly social gathering (by expressing a differing viewpoint that clearly nobody present wants to hear), and on the other hand feeling that those doing the talking are being rather rude and inconsiderate (especially in cases where they know full well they are in "mixed" ideological company). Since the purpose of the conversation often feels like commiseration and venting more than discussion or debate, I sometimes feel as if I've walked uninvited (despite having been invited to the event itself) into a group therapy session where I really just don't belong and where I'd just as soon not be. It does also help in my case that the comments are, amazingly enough for some of them, no longer quite as surprising. I feel as if I've nearly heard it all now, and while the attitudes remain disheartening (and in some cases downright disgusting) they no longer come as a shock. Starting to blog (however slowly so far) also feels as if it's helping. As has reding books, and much-appreciated blogs such as yours. It's good to have an outlet, and helps even more to know that you're not alone. Thanks again for being part of that.

At 9:57 PM, October 23, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You wrote, "I cited one book (although there are many more) that deals with the among certain elements in the Christian right to establish the supremacy of Biblical law in this country. Please note the modifiers. How serious a threat they pose, if indeed one considers them a threat, is open to debate.

Modifiers noted. I wonder if I'm unique on this list in actually having had discussions with people (perhaps two or three) who do wish to "establish the supremacy of Biblical law" in the U.S. To a man, they have been highly opposed to the Republican party in general, and to GW Bush in particular: they tend to support fringe candidates and parties. In addition, most conservatives (including those conservative Christians who believe that their faith should impact their politics, of which I am one) have serious disagreements with both their theology and their political philosophy. As a rule, Republicans and conservatives of all stripes do not find their arguments persuasive and, consequently, they do not have much influence. (From my perspective, hard-core Maoists have a greater influence within the Democratic party than Reconstructionists and the like have within the Republican party.)

Concerning the book you cited, unfortunately I did not see the reference, so do not know if I can comment on it. My observation of some similar claims, however, is that the people making them fail to make distinctions (i.e., lump disparate groups together), and then build on that failure. Perhaps the most well-known recent example is former presidential chief of staff and present-day political pundit Bill Moyers, for whom the 'immense influence' of the Religious Right {tm} is a stock hobbyhorse. One well can say that he has a religious belief in the pervasiveness of theocratic influences, for in this he "walks by faith and not by sight."

At 10:07 PM, October 23, 2005, Blogger TmjUtah said...

neo -

You are at least familiar with my wordiness, if not all of my positions.

How to defuse the dinner party tension?

1. Bush won. Twice.

2. There have been no more mass casualty attacks. I'm open on whether or not that's a direct result of ANYTHING that has happened since, but the President gets the blame for the economy/unemployment/weather whether he rates it or not. I give credit on the same line in the ledger.

3. As far as the war goes, I acknowledge that the aim is to change a third of the world into some sort of entity that can coexist with civilized people.

The ISLAMIC part, in case they don't understand where I'm coming from. Even if the administration suffers from reticence in identifying the enemy, I don't. Bush is applying an elegant solution, laced with subtlety, to the problem. I'm much more a hammer guy, myself. And if subtle should eventually fail, we still have a pretty good toolbox down to the woodshed. Hope it never comes to that - truly - but expect that option to be used if conditions compel.

Fifty- odd million voters in two nascent democracies in three years. Libya came in from the cold at least part way. North Korea is still run by loons, but the entire Rim is engaged in tightening the straps on the Happy Jacket. That's currency I can count, and am satisfied to wait out the string a bit longer.

End of discussion, there. Not interested in WMD, Plame, Michael Moore, and there isn't anybody on the other side of the fence I consider a viable alternative. Nice music, and aren't these little umbrellas in the glasses a nice touch?

I don't think that what we know as "fundamentalist Islamic" cancer can survive in a democracy with real teeth; it's like other despotic systems in that it depends on the truly powerless* and ignorant to exist. The young are the ones that must sieze the ring; and the moslem world is young. I am still guardedly optomistic.

*We have lots of ignorant people here, but the true power does indeed lie with the communal decision of the electorate - so the ignorant are left with trying to delegitimize elections. Funny thing, that.

I'd settle for purple ink at my polling station next time around. Failing a photo or thumbprint I.D., it would surely be a step in the right direction.

At 4:44 AM, October 24, 2005, Blogger Tom Grey said...

Like TmjUtah said.

Also, you might mention Mugabe -- standing ovation at calling Bush & Blair terrorists at the UN.

While his own police are destroying the shacks of the very poor folk in his country, a former food exporter when a white colony, now a starvation experiment for black dictatorship rule.

I also like to compare Darfar, Rwanda, and Iraq. Democrats who voted for Clinton in 1996 (yourself?) rewarded his "no genocide" Rwanda lie. Today, the UN says no genocide in Rwanda -- but yes, some war crimes. So the ICC has some 53 secret (?) indictments -- but the murders go on.

Iraq is moving, pretty rapidly, towards a functioning democracy.

If you want to talk with friends, I suggest focussing on "end values".
Pro-democracy (isn't it great that Iraq is getting there?), and anti-genocide. I'm sure your friends have similar liberal goals.

At 6:00 AM, October 24, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today I loudly laugh at the anti-liberators, not because they are against war but because they are filfilling the requirements asks of Stalin's useful idiots.

Liberalism eventually leads useful idiots down The Road to Serfdom, this is why they are slaves to their cause. To recognize otherwise would admit they were used as idiots. A purple finger scares them.

Today, for example, I am laughing loudly at the anti-liberators because the people of Brazil rejected the gun-ban proposed by their own useful idiots of artists, governmental oppressors and peace for genocide people.

Around the world the common person is not as stupid as the useful idiots would lead us to believe. Power to the people, down with Serfdom!

That said, the useful idiots are bringing out the death under an Ice Age arguement, only unlike in the 1970's, they they say are now going to declared we will all die now from a climate change of an Ice Age caused by Global Warming.

Useful idiotism make for great comedy.

I laugh.

At 6:02 AM, October 24, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

correction "they are now going to declare we will all die now from...." (sorry, I was laughing so hard I failed to preview)

At 9:36 AM, October 24, 2005, Blogger troutsky said...

Consider another scenario; perhaps all your analysis is wrong and your arguments have no merit.That too would make it difficult to argue with your friends.

At 9:50 AM, October 24, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brad, you could always, you know, try listening to the lecture.


82% Of Iraqis Oppose Foreign Troops
A new poll commissioned by the British military has found that 82 percent of Iraqis strongly oppose the continued presence of foreign troops. Less than 1 percent of the population feels foreign troops have helped improve security in Iraq. The poll also found 45 percent of Iraqis feel attacks against US troops are justified.

Poll finds support for attacks on coalition forces

At 2:49 PM, October 24, 2005, Blogger Sparky said...

I too, have encountered the awkward dinner conversation style comments of the Useful Idiots who think that the whole world shares their liberal beliefs. It seems that Politics of Fear is all the rage lately. I have this recent email from my uncle (who happens to be gay), telling a story of the little boy who is too embarassed that his daddy works for the Republican National Committee and helped re-elect George Bush, and instead lies that his dad is a gay cabaret strip dancer and gay prostitute. There was another email linking to a web site with an animated song showing Bush, Cheney, and Rice getting rich from the rising price of gasoline. Not to mention a series of 9/11 conspiracy-theory and election conspiracy-theory web sites.

I would like to respond that I voted Republican, and that I've been growing even more conservative lately, and find these messages somewhat offensive. I could consult The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense (1980, Suzette Haden Elgin), and look up an appropriate response to the empowering "Everyone knows" claim. I'm more inclined to send back a snappy comeback, and go about my business:

"You better watch it with your Bush-Bashing, you terrorist sympathasizing Dhimmi-crat, or I'll have my good friend and co-conspirator, President George W. Bush sic his Roveian Hurricane Machine on you! And George Bush Hates Black People!"

My gay uncle Jerry is White, but if I wanted to be mean, I would substitute Kayne West's use of "black people" with "gay people" (not that there's anything wrong with that.) I'm not certain that would help salvage the relationship with this relative, while stemming the influx of unwanted liberal commentary. So, with reluctance, I opened the Verbal Self-Defense book to chapter 8, "Everyone Understands Why You..." This is more of a personal attack than the bandwagon fallacy of "everyone agrees with me." The best advice I can come up with is something like... respond in Computer Mode and nominalize the presupposition, which produces a response like this:

"Yes, the shame and embarassment of the 51% of us who voted for Bush (or who support the war on terror) certainly is astounding, isn't it?"

A snarky response like that might get through to the smarter ones. Anymore, I don't care to spend the energy to construct such a response, and remember to use it the next time that particular attack comes up. But a decisive response is necessary, otherwise they assume that silence is acquiescence. So, I think I'd be better off sending back the first response.

At 4:47 PM, October 24, 2005, Blogger Judith said...

"Why not talk directly to Iraqis?"

We do (or at least read their blogs and the things they say to reporters), that's why we supported the removal of Saddam, and the reconstruction of Iraq. Since they have enough hope for their country to buy real estate and durable goods and volunteer in droves for their new military and police force, we have hope too.

How many Iraqis spoke at any of the huge world-wide antiwar rallies of the past 3 years? The antiwar movement has repeatedly shown it only cares about Iraqis when it can position them as victims of the US.

At 6:03 AM, October 25, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

And now? Now when I go to a party and the inevitable comments come up, apropos of nothing--Bush is evil, we are a pack of murdering marauders in Iraq, Abu Ghraib was the equivalent of the political killings and imprisonments in Iran under the mullahs, etc. etc. etc.; I turn red in the face and have to leave and go cool off.

Maybe you could use these statements next time, they are not political rebukes. Rather, they are rapier witticisms meant to slip beneath an opponent's guard and gut him without him ever knowing his ignominous defeat.

Bush is evil, why else would he make it harder for our Special Forces to fight terrorism by spreading tales of cowardice about how burning dead Taliban bodies to psychologically upset the terroists, is somehow "not representative of America".

Only a pack knows another pack of people howling for vengeance, as America knows the fury of the Kurds and the Shia. Therefore we supply them with weapons of murder, mayhem, and terror, though we are polite enough to leave most of the killing to them, even though we are slavering at the mouth to kill some ourselves. Especially those Southern crackers that killed Vincent, a free lance journalist.

Ya, I wish we could have sent the National Guardsmen that embarassed America to a death camp. Not a fitting reward for people who have exposed the truth, but order must be kept.

They just turn into Jekyl-Hyde dimwits when politics rears its ugly head.

That is probably cause they are nearing maximum entropy. Any strictly ordered system becomes chaotic in the end through decay, and any fully chaotic system has an order to it. They have just reached so high up in "international Law" order, that they are approaching maximum entropy, the state of absolute and ignoramus like collapse.

Their balance is lost. Only through ironies, can they ever understand the joke of their circumstance.

To lose one's balance in chaos and order, is to not know water from sewage.

Quite sad. On your part, quite frustrating perhaps as well.

At 6:07 AM, October 25, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

I wish Bush would have lied, then fewer Americans and Iraqis would have had to die.

This is not a war of honor and duty, but one in which we match our ruthlessness to theirs.

Cruel people always assume that other kinder, more merciful people, lack their ruthlessness.

It is justice incarnate to prove them utterly wrong, and to be proud in the proof.

A war of mercy, simply gets more people killed, which is fine if the United States cares to lose their best and brightest over the decades.

At 8:05 PM, October 25, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it wonderful that the Iraqi people feel safe enough to say it aloud? Of course they want us to go home. We want to come home too. They can shout it from the rooftops without fear of retribution. They can say it to a US soldier on the street without being shot. They can say it on TV and magazines and newspapers and they won't disappear in the middle of the night. They can say it to anyone they want.

It's called freedom.

At 8:13 AM, October 26, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Freedom's on the march!

"US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice steadfastly refuses to say when troops might be pulled out, stressing they were in Iraq to wipe out the 'malignant' influence of Islamic extremism in the Middle East."
- from

"[The Daily Telegraph] reported that two of the [Halliburton subsidiary] contractors who had not been killed in the initial attack in Duluiya were dragged alive from their vehicle, which had been badly shot up, and forced to kneel in the road before being killed.
"The paper said: 'Killing one of the men with a rifle round fired into the back of his head, they doused the other with petrol and set him alight.'
"It said: 'Barefoot children, yelping in delight, piled straw on to the screaming man's body to stoke the flames.' The crowd then 'dragged their corpses through the street, chanting anti-US slogans', the newspaper reported."
- from


At 9:49 AM, October 31, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Keep it up brother, Power to the Jihad!!

Inshallah, peace onto you Brother in the great Jihad.

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