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Assistant Village Idiot
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Charles, do you have anything to say that is not the knee-jerk conventional wisdom we have read a hundred times before? We are already aware that all the cool kids are world-weary and cynical about everything the US has ever done in the ME. False dichotomy is not argument.
Toggle Commented Sep 3, 2006 on Reasons for Optimism: Part III at ShrinkWrapped
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Charles Stewart, you are assuming what you attempt to prove. You begin by assuming that the US and UK are lying and manipulating and from that you conclude that it's a bad thing we are lying and manipulating. Have a go at the implied question. Instead of trying to show how all us idiots over here don't understand truth and its descendants as cleverly as you do, you might offer what sources of information lead you to the conclusion of Coalition dishonesty, and comment on how that bears on the topic. That might take some self-reflection, however, which you seem to be avoiding.
Toggle Commented Sep 3, 2006 on Reasons for Optimism: Part II at ShrinkWrapped
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Ken Spiker, you missed the related part of Buddhism. It has not only produced people who do not wish to go and shed blood, it has produced people unwilling to do anything to combat injustice. This is not a mere unfortunate accident, but part and parcel of the system. Americans adopting Buddhism seem to be trying to put some spine into it, usually by hoping that some Gandhian tactic will work, but its history in the rest of the world is to allow tyrants to do just about anything to one's neighbor.
Toggle Commented Aug 30, 2006 on Politics and Faith at ShrinkWrapped
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Actually, China does have terrorist attacks, primarily in Xinjiang Province in the northwest, which borders on central Asian states. Because the Uighurs there are Muslim and have ties to Muslim states, there have been many low-level attacks. China has responded by making the area "the death penalty capital of the world." Beijing is trying to keep this hidden, of course. More here: http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20040701fareviewessay83414a/joshua-kurlantzick/the-unsettled-west.html I do agree with the principle that visible firm response would decrease our danger, however. You will notice that the terrorist attacks in China have not been on eastern areas. The terrorists know that in that instance, the need to publicly punish terrorists would override the need for secrecy.
Toggle Commented Aug 17, 2006 on A Matter of "Will" at ShrinkWrapped
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tde, you keep coming close to making good points and then giving the game away. The Dick Cheney comment, in which the words "leaking," "identity," and "covert" are all very much up for grabs, suggests that you don't want to discuss but to try and score rhetorical points. I can't be bothered. It's just been too easy. I've already raised teenage sons trying to prove that something is debateable by getting me to debate it, thanks. To the larger question, I think that SW's original "has no stomach" comment admits of many possible answers, and I think that was the point. If you are trying to play a trapping game, believing that he meant torture and scorched earth, and you want him to admit it, it's just silly. It's a false dichotomy. Our nation has disagreements about the morality of tactics long before we approach torture and scorched earth. Your supposedly ridiculous example - a good PR campaign - has already been rejected by TOPP. It was supposedly a scandal when it was discovered that we were paying Iraqi newspapers to run true, but sympathetic stories. The horror! Someone might call it propaganda! Bush missed an opportunity to say "You're damn straight we're going to do it." The MSM has decided that exemplifying the American freedom to criticize the government is the sort of PR for America they like, and expect it will work best in the long run. I find that mere convenience on their part. They really don't want a PR campaign for America, but for their own values (which do have some overlap with American values). The whole discussion of defining torture down to include humiliation is another example of TOPP and the MSM "not having the stomach for" something far short of scorched earth and torture, and fits exactly into the category of actions SW suggested. Even if our elected officials and those charged with keeping us safe decide that we need to do this, others have decided that no we won't either, and they will slant these into the worst possible light in an attempt to control the discussion. To the above examples I could add: Will we use a powerful search technique less intrusive than a supermarket scanner to monitor phone calls of American citizens who are communicating with our enemies? Some have decided we don't have the stomach for that. Will we hold a select few captured foreign terrorists with neither criminal nor POW status? Some have decided we don't have the stomach for that? Will we forbid members of TOPP from criticizing our foreign policy on foreign soil, which in the past would have been considered criminal? Some have decided we don't have the stomach for that. Will we prosecute media outlets for leaking government secrets? Some have decided we don't have the stomach for that. (BTW, please note that the president's claiming Constitutional authority to authorize surveillance, in defiance of Congressional legislation, is called "illegal," while the NYT is allowed to break the law because they don't like it and think they have a higher calling than legality. Huh.) Will we accept that some mistakes, civilian casualties, and collateral damage are the unfortunate but predictable results of warfare, or will we judge warfare forever off-limits because these things might occur? Some have decided the latter. What we have the stomach for is precisely what is involved in nearly every discussion of the war. Don't read convenient myths into the statements of others. False dichotomy. False dichotomy. Be on guard for it in your thinking.
Toggle Commented Jun 15, 2006 on Distortion by Omission at ShrinkWrapped
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I always thought the symbolism of the identified heroes - though this was unknown to them at the time - was perfect: a Jew who just happened to have world-elite judo training, a gay guy from SF who just happened to be an immensely strong rugby player, an evangelical Christian who just happened to be a college-level playmaking guard. The most infuriating group the jihadists could have hand-picked (except maybe missing an uppity female). Welcome to America, you sunuvabitch.
Toggle Commented May 2, 2006 on "United 93" at ShrinkWrapped
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That unresolveable internal conflict is what theoretically goes on in the psyche of an abused spouse who cannot leave as well. The perpetrator is at least willing to shoulder the responsibility for evil actions. True or not, I find that the analogy of the abused wife with some portions of the left to be uncomfortably accurate. If only we hadn't complained about them in front of the children, the Muslims would not have hit us. If we had only been kinder, seen the signs coming, taken steps to head him off, bin Laden would have gotten over it. There is the illusion that the victim can somehow control the actions of the perpetrator, a belief that is psychologically comforting but physically dangerous. I think the tide is turning. Sensible liberals are beginning to reclaim the territory that DU conquered over the last few years. Or has that been happening all along and the conservative side of the blogosphere is just starting to notice it?
Toggle Commented May 2, 2006 on Perspectives on Totalitarianism at ShrinkWrapped
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CS Lewis described a similar pattern that when he was still an atheist, the writers he often liked best seemed to have this eccentricity of Christianity about them as well. He noted, among others, Milton, Chesterton, and MacDonald. In his professional life as well, he found that those whose thought struck him as most sound -- notably Tolkien -- had the same eccentricity. For those interested, he describes this in his short book Surprised By Joy, and it also figures prominently in the even shorter books The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce. From the other side, agnostic Lee Harris over at tcsdaily (used to be techcentralstation) http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=072905B discusses why it should be important to atheists what religion others use to deceive themselves, as the effect on their personality and citizenship is dramatic.
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I don't know about all this. The Beatles were very influential in English and American Boomer culture. I'm not sure we're the center of what happened in the 20th C.
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