Chad Perrin: SOB

20 October 2006

A Hint to the Anti-Bush Left

Filed under: Cognition,Liberty — apotheon @ 11:36

I see the Leftists in this nation, in the United States, saying a whole lot of things over and over again.

  • I see them saying the Bush administration condones torture. Good. Guantanamo Bay interrogators have been accused of use of waterboarding as a form of torture — a technique prosecuted as a war crime after World War II.
  • I see them calling Bush a liar. Good. He is a liar. Just a few days ago he said that the United States doesn’t engage in torture.
  • I see them calling Bush corrupt. Good. His administration’s involvement in corporate scandals makes the Clinton Whitewater scandal look positively benign by contrast.
  • I see them calling Bush an enemy of freedom. Good. Not since Roosevelt have we seen systematic unlawful detention of citizens that even begins to compare to what Bush’s administration has done, and not since Grant in 1870 has a US President suspended the power of a Writ of Habeas Corpus. Worse, Bush actually got such a suspension passed into law by Congress (turning a “suspension” into an “elimination”), only a few years after he signed the USA PATRIOT Act into law and his Department of Justice drafted the Domestic Security Enhancement Act (which thankfully never made it to a vote in the House).

There are dozens of further examples of these and other transgressions by the Bush Administration and its supporting Republican-dominated Congress. These could be powerful arguments against the Bush administration and the Congressional Republicans who have marched to its drumbeat. Unfortunately, the Left is full of wankers and nincompoops in this country — but then, I expect no better from people who actually think that theft and violation of one of the ten Amendments of the Bill of Rights make for good governmental policy.

The Democrats have a tendency to sabotage the effectiveness of their own message in a manner that comes off as perversely gleeful. Time and again, I have seen what starts off as a reasonable indictment of Bush policy degenerate into shrill complaints about the “international community” (or, worse, “world community”), for instance.

Here’s my hint to the anti-Bush Left in the United States: Don’t talk about the disapproval of the “international community”. Frankly, the Right doesn’t care and, as much as I disagree with the Republicans in government right now about almost everything, I agree with them that the opprobrium of the “international community” is meaningless in deciding right or wrong, no matter how unfortunate it may be that they disapprove. Right and wrong are independent of who approves or disapproves of them. If Stalin rose from the grave to grant his support to the Bill of Rights and express his disapproval of the Military Commissions Act, I’d agree with him. If Jesus’ Second Coming occurred and he brought with him a Holy Message of intolerance for people who question Bush’s policy, I’d question whether he was really the Savior, not my own beliefs on the subject of Presidential policy.

I don’t give a damn whether the “international community” disapproves of Bush. What I care about is the fact that Bush has done almost nothing in six years as President of which I can approve. In fact, at every turn he is weakening Constitutional protections of rights and liberties and attacking the foundation of what was intended to be a free society. That is what matters, not whether a bunch of Europeans and petty dictators in the UN disapprove of what he’s doing.

When you start talking about absurdities like the approval of the “international community”, you’re appealing to popularity and a false sense of authority, not to reason. Perhaps worse, even when you’re right you end up sounding like you’re wrong — and your audience starts yawning and looking for something else to do.

Sterling commented in The land of the free (soda upgrade) and the home of the brave (new world) about the apathy and willful ignorance of the United States electorate, and he’s right; a lot of people just can’t be bothered to care about the rapid erosion of the protections of their rights, as long as nobody has broken down their doors to haul them away to Guantanamo Bay (yet). I have a sneaking suspicion, though, that part of the reason they cannot be bothered to give a damn is that, simply put, many of the opponents of such violations of rights and liberties are boring them to tears with arguments that can at best be called facile and specious. Unless and until you drop the nonsense and start putting your arguments in terms about which the average citizen actually gives a damn, what you say will not only fall on deaf ears but will also make them ever more deaf to what you have to say in the future.

Every time I run across someone saying something with which I otherwise agree, but then that person says something about the disapproval of the “international community”, it becomes a real challenge to finish reading or listening with an open mind. I think the current state of politics here in the United States owes as much to the tendency of the Left to make enemies of its friends as anything else.


  1. I could not agree more. I absolutely despise the Democratic Party at these points, for exactly these reasons. Too many “leftists” are not really progressive at all. Indeed, one of the reasons why the Republicans have been so successful in elections since 1994 is because they were against the status quo, which many people were not happy with. The Democrats are not fighting to make things better. They are fighting to maintain what wins they had during the New Deal and the 60’s. As a result, they are acting like reactionaries (which they are) while the Republicans have been able to put on the “reformist” mantle. Of course, with the Republicans controlling the House, Senate, and PResidency, it is hard for them to claim that they are now “reforming,” which is why they resort to claiming Democratic obstructing and demanding things like the end of fillibusters.

    The Democrats are further damaged by people like Harry Reid (how many shady deals does he need to be involved in?) and Nancy Pelosi (who gets into screaming hysterics over every little thing). The only Democrat that I can really point to and say, “hey, there is someone I would vote for” is Barack Obama, and honestly, no one knows too much about him yet. There are a few semi-sensible people in Congress; Chuck Schumer, Chuck Hagel, Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe, Joe Biden, possibly Lindsay Graham (I can’t figure him out, sometimes I like him,sometimes I don’t) and a few others. Unfortunately, they are being increasingly marginalized because (heaven forbid), they are rational moderates. So what happens? They get pressured by the Howard Deans and Tom DeLays of their parties to act more extreme and toe the party line. And the situation is not helped by the hysteric bloggers out there. When every day a new “crisis to end all crises” is declared by the bloggers, eventually people stop caring.

    And as a result, we have a Democratic party that cannot win an election without the Republicans shooting themselves in the foot, a Republican party that needs to prostitute itself to the Religious Right, a President who is able to get away with just about anything, and laws that violate everything that the United States stands for.

    If I behaved along the same principles the US government has been, I would be in jail or dead. Let’s see how it goes:

    • Borrowing money with not enough income to pay it back (fraud)
    • Attacking people because I have reason to beleive that they have weapons that migh be able to hurt me and because I consider them nuts (aggravated assault/battery, 1st degree murder)
    • Torture people I think may be bad (torture)
    • Ripping up the Bill of Rights

    … and so on.

    The worst part is, the folks who are standing up to this are either obvious bandwagoners and opportunists (John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, and the jury is still out on Lindsay Graham) or are outside mainstream politics and probably always will be (Libertarians, Social Democrats, Socialists, Anarchists, Communists).

    People tell me that I have no right to complain because I don’t vote. I say, I didn’t give the bums my vote because I thought they would suck and so would the alternatives. Choosing the “lesser of two evils” is still choosing evil. If Joseph Stalin ran against Adolph Hitler, who would you vote for? The “accepted” thinking is that you have to choose who is less bad. I say, don’t vote for either one of them. Sad as it is, there are simply too few people in politics right now (not even in office), who if they got on TV and said, “Justin James voted for me” I wouldn’t hide for a week in shame.


    Comment by Justin James — 20 October 2006 @ 02:19

  2. outside mainstream politics and probably always will be (Libertarians, Social Democrats, Socialists, Anarchists, Communists).

    I certainly hope those won’t all be forever outside mainstream politics — the Libertarian Party may be our only chance to salvage the nation the United States could be from what it has become.

    Choosing the “lesser of two evils” is still choosing evil.

    I couldn’t agree more. However . . .

    If Joseph Stalin ran against Adolph Hitler, who would you vote for?

    I’d vote for a third-party candidate.

    The “accepted” thinking is that you have to choose who is less bad. I say, don’t vote for either one of them.

    That’s what I say, too. Just don’t sit at home complacently waiting to be steamrolled, though. Try researching candidates from other parties worth your vote, and help get the word out about them. If everyone who claimed to have stopped voting because they’re disgusted with the Republican and Democrat candidates, we’d have a race of more than two parties for almost every major national office.

    Thanks for the supporting commentary. It’s always nice to know not everyone is in “I don’t care” mode about stuff like the Military Commissions Act.

    Comment by apotheon — 20 October 2006 @ 03:47

  3. Even if you don’t like the choices, you should always vote. Abdicating your responsibility is the loudest call for authoritarianism, through silence.

    Comment by Sterling Camden — 20 October 2006 @ 05:45

  4. Agreed. Even if you literally cannot in good conscience vote for anybody running in the Presidential race (which is ridiculous — there’s always a pack of about thirty third-party guys for whom you could vote, even if only by write-in), there are always other items on the ballot that are worth your attention.

    When in doubt, vote “no”.

    Comment by apotheon — 20 October 2006 @ 05:53

  5. when in doubt, vote no

    …except on an initiative to repeal a tax or regulation.

    Comment by Sterling Camden — 20 October 2006 @ 05:55

  6. Good point, of course.

    Comment by apotheon — 20 October 2006 @ 06:10

  7. […] SOB: Scion Of Backronymics » A Hint to the Anti-Bush Left As much as I hope for international harmony, I have to agree that the much more forceful argument against Bush’s policies have to do with what’s best (or worst) for America. (tags: liberty internationalism terrorism bush linklove) Share and Enjoy:These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. […]

    Pingback by links for 2006-10-21 -- Chip’s Quips — 20 October 2006 @ 07:17

  8. Even if you don’t like the choices, you should always vote. Abdicating your responsibility is the loudest call for authoritarianism, through silence.

    This is not entirely true! In some states, they have a “none of the above law.” What they do is always have a candidate on the ballot labelled “none of the above.” If N.o.t.A. wins the election (through majority or plurality, as I understand it), it’s like a mistrial; they need to have another election, and none of the previous candidates are allowed to re-run. That’s how I understand it, at least.

    I support this option wholeheartedly. N.o.t.A. gives mainstream voters the opportunity to make their voices heard and say: “none of these people are acceptable to me.” That fact is, even in the Presidential elections which are decided indirectly through the Electoral College, it has been decades since any politician was elected by a true majority. How is that? If someone wins 51% of the votes, but the votes only came from 50% of elegible voters, that means that 74.5% of voters found that candidate unacceptable.

    Think about that for a moment.

    Silence can be golden. When George W. Bush claimed a mandate to power in his second inaugural speech, he couldn’t fool anyone; yes, he has a majority of the electoral college and a majority of the popular vote; but he had only a small fraction of the possible votes. An overwhelming majority of voters declared through their silence, “I do not want George W. Bush to be President.” He wasn’t worth putting off dinner for. Both Geroge W. Bush and John Kerry were so uninspiring that most people were unwilling to take 30 minutes out of their day to help either one of them. Indeed, both were so repulsive to me that I almost didn’t vote. My vote for Kerry was an anti-Bush protest, and to be frank, I literally felt sick to my stomach when I voted for Kerry at that voting machine. It was also the first and only time in my life that I voted.

    There have only been a few candidates run in elections that I have been eligible to vote in that I even thought were worth an ounce of my energy to support.

    Personally, I am not a Liberterian; I support many of their ideas on many issues. I feel that the political spectrum is mangled. For whatever reason, both leftists and rightists only seem to get half of the issues “right” in my mind. For some reason, leftists seem to feel that most sexual behaviors are someone’s freedom of speech, but then turn around and say that if someone uses a racial slur while commiting an act of violence that it is a hate crime. That makes no sense to me. Rightists go on and on about defending the “traditional values,” yet, what could be more of a “traditional value” than the Bill of Rights? It amazes me how both ends pick and choose with no regard for logic or consistency. How are you going to tell me that it is my right to worship any god I want, and then stick the Ten Commandments in a court house? How are you going to tell me that you beleive in lassiz faire [sic] capitalism, and then demand high tariffs and other trade barriers to protect domestic industries?

    This makes no sense.

    I spent the bulk of my day writing if/then statements, case statements, tracing network packets, debugging, troubleshooting, etc. I have extensively studied formal logic. I have a bloody degree in Philosophy and can logically explain to you why we need to start eating our own children to be morally OK to eat cows. Yet I cannot make sense of the positions that people take.

    Personally, I feel that the only purpose a government serves is to formalize a community, to put into action the things that what we as individuals cannot do for ourselves, we can do together. For example, I cannot afford to pave my street; even if all of my neighbors chipped in, we could not afford to pave the street. So the government taxes the rich and corporations and people importing goods and so on a bit more than they tax me, to pave my street. Through taxes, the government coerces good deeds. I am not going to walk around my neighborhood with a flashlight and a pistol to apprehend criminals, so the government raises taxes to pay police officers. And so on. The difference between fiscal conservatives and fiscal liberals is where they draw the line. Liberterians on one hand say, “let’s pave the roads and pay the firemen, that’s all we need.” Socialists says, “let’s pave the roads, pay the firemen, take care of the elderly and support the poor.” I know that I am exaggerating, of course. But we all agree on the same basic principle.

    From that basic principle, we have a framework to actually figure things out. But no one in politics is actually consdering these kinds of issues. Fifty, one hundred, two hundred years ago, our leaders, while being rich white males, were rich white males with a true, well rounded education, in the style of St. John’s College in Anapolis. An overwhleming majority American politicians since the founding of the nation has been a lawyer. But what went into a lawyer’s education a long time ago compared to what goes into a lawyer’s education today are very different things. Political Science is no longer about asking the kinds of questions that Aristotle, Plato, and the other thinkers who were read by yesterday’s leaders were asking: what makes good government? what is the government’s role in society? what responsibilities to the citizens does a government have? Instead, it is about things like: what do these poll numbers mean? how do we properly gerrymander these voting precints to give us the best results? what demographic groups react to what types of messages?

    The leaders of today are less and less concerned with what the government should actually be doing, why they should be doing it, and how they should do it. They are concerned with how to gain and maintain power. Raw, naked, power. They are acheiving Pyrhic [sic] victories, and the increasingly hostile political environment shows. They win battles at any cost, and the result is that the government, particularly at the national level, has become paralysed. Clinton could not be President for years, because he was bogged down over Monica Lewinski. Congress cannot act with the moral authority it needs, because Hastert covered for Foley instead of doing the right thing. It is more important to score points and hope the ref doesn’t see the fouls, than the play a square game of ball. And that is dispicable.

    Our “leaders” now spend more time worrying about naughy emails and blue dresses than they do on a budget of multiple trillion dollars. 2000 page budgets get delivered two days before a vote on them, but weeks get spent on an email. The USA PATRIOT law gets voted in without hesitation, thought, or consideration, yet we can spend years investigating a real estate deal. All to acheive… what? Getting voter outrage on one side or another? It is inexcusable and immoral. Our elected officials have been hired and paid to do a job, which is to govern the country in accordance with the United States Consitution. The Consitution is similar to the Ten Commandments is that is does not say what to do, it simply says what not to do. Imagine the voice of God on the mountain top speaking to Moses… “Thou shalt not pass laws restricting thy citizens’ free speech. Thou shalt not restrict thy citizens’ right to keep and bear arms.” And so on. Outside of those “thou shalt nots” that the Consitution provides for, the federal government is free to do whatever it feels it needs to do.

    And that is why it is so important for us to have real leaders, not demogogues. Maybe I have just read The Republic too many times, but I would rather vote for a politician who has been educated and experienced in making good decisions over one who agrees 100% with my ideas. And I just do not see many leaders on the scene now who can (or are willing) to make good decisions. Instead, they react to the squeakiest wheel in their constituency. Sadly, moderates tend to not get too excited. Centrist politics lack the passion of extreme views. As a result, politicians of all parties react to their most extreme constituents, while the majority of the people are left in the cold. Maybe it has always been that way, I don’t know; I am not that old.

    I was raised in an extremely political household. Adults I knew as a child went to prison for their politics. My parents and their friends were engaged in violent streetfights in the subways of New York and Newark with knives and nunchucks over their politics. I know people who have died for their politics, in the United States no less. I have a fairly deep insight into the workings of an extreme political movement as a result of it. I spent time at Communist meetings, hearing things like, “when the revolution comes, we are going to put the Rockerfellers and the Mellons up against the wall.” And so on and so on. I have been sitting around talking to Neo-Nazis who pulls knives out and show me the blood of someone they stabbed over politics. I have seen all manners of hate wrapped up in high sounding ideals, and I categorically reject them. And as a result, I categorically reject the current poisoned political environment. There is no “victory” possible for any side that I can see, that can be acheived in a manner consistent with the ideals that I hold dear.

    And that disturbs me.


    Comment by Justin James — 20 October 2006 @ 11:32

  9. Is this not what I’ve said before?

    I like the idea of a NOTA on the ballot and will probably write in NOTA for quite a few positions.

    Comment by Alex — 24 October 2006 @ 11:42

  10. […] A Hint to the Anti-Bush Left: Wherein Apotheon, and some of his commentors, take a crack at giving the Left some good advice for getting back the votes. […]

    Pingback by Ameliorations — 25 October 2006 @ 09:22

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