Monday, March 22, 2004

MOVE ON
I think the name of George Soros's organization provides an easy target for Bush, such as this:

Those who don't want Bush to be president have put together an orgaanization called "Move On.org." That's appropriate because that's been the Democratic response to every crisis of the past several years -- Move on, pretend it's not a big deal, let's talk about Social Security.

That's what they said when their president lied under oath. Maybe they were right, I don't know.

They're saying it again with our nation facing attacks from groups bent on destroying it.

It's tempting to bleieve that the threat isn't real, and place our attention on real, but less firghtening domestic problems.

But that is a mistake. The threat of global terror demands a greater response than "Let's move on."

I put that in quotes because I don't neccesarily agree with it, but think it could do some real damage.
MORE UNPLEASANT LILEKS STUFF
Today, James Lileks engages in my second least favorite of his tendencies -- barrellfishing

You'll notice that Lileks never engages serious opponenents to the war -- nope, it's always a silly celebrity, a college kid on a web board, or a silly protestor.

So, instead of confronting Richard Clarke's criticisms of the Administration, which is the subject of the day, Lileks picks on a protestor holding a stupid sign.

His argument for war seems to be:

  • I'm still pissed about 9/11.
  • I have a daughter
  • Them anti-war people are evil, idiots, or both, like this guy!

I have a daughter too, but that doesn't mean I think it's a good idea to piss off the world.

I think Lileks is a great writer, but I think if someone were to catalog reasons "why they hate us," he could do worse than to look at the Bleat.

Here's a guy with a wife, a daughter, a house and a dog. He's got not one job, but two. He tells of receiving shipments of DVD's he forgot he ordered, and constant shopping trips and travel. When his wife lost her job, he received all sorts of (unneeded) financial support.

Yet, he's got a chip on his shoulder. He's pissed off, and thinks you should be, too. And if you're not pissed off, he'll try to get you pissed off again. Don't you remember he has a daughter? Don't you remember how you felt in the days after 9/11?

I dunno, the self-congratulatory warbloggers just don't do much for me anymore.

UPDATE: For the strawman-hunters out there, I am not saying that Lileks's good fortune and irritability justify attacks on the US. I should also note that Lileks's donating of his donations to the Heifer Project is very laudable.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

EVERY READER LETTER ANDREW SULLIVAN EVER BLOGGED
While I'm tossing stones at the titans of the blogosphere, I figured I'd offer this:

Andrew,

I am a lifelong [Democrat/Republican]. I have voted for the [Democratic/Republican] candidate in every election I have ever voted in. Heck, I even voted for [Dukakis/Dole]!

But not this year. Every day, it becomes clearer that my party I have loved is going over the edge when it comes to [national defense/gay marriage], and I'm not going to be a part of it. It's pretty apparent that they're more interested in people like [Naom Chomsky/Pat Robertson] than people like me. Whatever happened to the party of [John Kennedy/Abraham Lincoln].

When the [Democrats/Republicans] show that they've gotten serious about [national security/gay rights], I might consider supporting them again. Until then, I will be what I always loathed -- a [Republican/Democratic] voter!


Sullivan seems to be a particular sucker for this type of message. I suppose becuase it is very flattering to Sullivan. The reader is finding himself hurtling over the edge, looks for some stronghold of reason to hold on to, and finds... Andrew Sullivan! It also allows Sullivan to make the case that even people of the opposite party agree with him.

But I suspect there's a lot fewer of these switch-overs than one would suspect by reading the letters Sullivan posts.

Friday, March 05, 2004

ARE WE AT WAR, DAMMIT?
James Lileks has one of his typical "this is war, dammit!" screeds today (scroll to the bottom). In it, he writes:

Okay. A simple quiz.

1. We should promote the rebuilding of the international community through the UN to stop tyrannical regimes through forceful nonviolent intervention.

Or:

2 "You?re either with us, or with the terrorists."

Imagine a bomb just went off in your local mall. Choose one.

This illustrates the fundamental error Lileks makes, and tries to persuade his readers into making. And I think it stinks.

A bomb did not just go off in my local mall. A horrible attack took place two and a half years ago. The government supporting it has been crushed.

Now, we have a lot of simmering people out there who might like to blow up the local mall, but have been stopped by vigilance and increased security. Or are thisclose to doing so, and some other action could put them over the edge. And these folks are spead out all over the world.

That being the case, yes, it might make more sense to cooperate with the UN, play their game, and let them help us squash them. And it might make sense not to go out of our way to piss more people off.

If the threats are coming from a specific place, then "taking the fight to them" makes sense. But if they're coming from all over the world, it might not be such a hot idea.

I guess what bugs me about entraties like Lileks's is that they're an invitation for us to turn off our brains and rely on our animal instincts. There's a gun to your head --- what do you do? Well, whatever gets that gun pointed away from my head.

But just because that's a good way to make decisions in that situation doesn't make it a good general model. But that's what Lileks wants us to do to reach his same conclusions. He wants to take us back to the days after 9/11 when we were all scared to death and clutching our loved ones, nervously turning on the news each morning, and wondering what came next. That should be the place from which we decide what actions to take.

Sorry, I don't buy it. Maybe this makes me a starry-eyed optimist who didn't comprehend the horror of 9/11, but I'm glad I don't live like that anymore. It's not a state than can be sustained for extended periods of time, nor should it be.

I'm glad the Taliban was dealt with. I'm glad al Qaida cells are being broken up. I'm glad that Saddam Hussein is out of power, although I'm not thrilled with the loss of credibility that came with it.

And that's my point. Even Lileks would have to agree that there were mistakes made in making the case to take out Saddam. That's what happens when you act as if you have a gun to your head. You make mistakes. You miss some details. You see threats where there might not be threats.

That's not the way I want to live, but it's the life James Lileks is inviting me too, though he would probably tell me it's not him, but the terrorists. I disagree.

If that's the life George W. Bush invites me to in November, I may need to decline.