July 16, 2007

Surviving a Stroll Through the Dunes

Justin Katz

I'm thrilled to report that Rocco DiPippo is back on American soil. It would seem that his time in Iraq has done much to mellow his writing:

There is no longer any doubt about it--the Democratic Party is rushing to cause the defeat of the US in Iraq. And why not? Without the complete failure of the Bush Administration's Iraq policy, the Party of miserable quasi-Communists and race hustlers will not fare well in the 2008 elections.

The troop "surge" is taking hold, the security stabilization of Iraq is currently within sight and the Democratic Party-Mainstream Media consortium is beginning to panic. Press antiwar hysteria is peaking and the Democratic Party leadership is practically begging for withdrawal before it becomes too late to thwart the Bush Administration's successful stabilization of Iraq.

Look at it this way: Even with the rabidly anti-Bush media's ceaseless attacks on the President, its incessant reporting of negative events in Iraq and its non-reporting of positive events there, its endless, pre- election reporting on the Allen "macaca" incident, its trumping-up of the Foley sex-talk scandal, its downplaying of the misdeeds of corrupt Democrats like William Jefferson, the Democratic Party was only able to eke out a narrow victory in the 2006 congressional election.

Now that Party, including its Mainstream Media wing, has one desperate, dangerous and wholly immoral move left to attempt to finish off the Bush Administration and thrust a disturbed group of 1960's-styled Marxists, quasi-Marxists and radical leftists into power: browbeating the American public into complete despair over Iraq.

I think the Democrats have overplayed that desperate hand. Because they have, electoral disaster awaits them, as surely as genocide awaits Iraq should we abandon it now.

With any luck — or ingenuity and media wisdom — Rocco will have the opportunity to discuss these matters publicly with folks from the other side (a group that I'll leave loosely defined).

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Your previous post had almost persuaded me to try to convince my liberal friends to stop calling people who oppose same-sex marriage "bigots".

How about I do that, and you try to get your conservative friends to stop calling people who oppose the war "dangerous", "immoral" and "disturbed". Or, if that's too much, just stop spreading their poison yourself?

Or, does the call for respect and civility only cut one way?


Posted by: Thomas at July 16, 2007 11:57 PM


I'm not sure what the two issues have to do with each other. How about we decide what is right or wrong in each case and behave accordingly, without using one as leverage for the other?

I think you overstate Rocco's position. I'm reasonably confident that he would agree with me that the majority of "people who oppose the war" are merely "wrong" or "misguided." As for the leaders among such people, I strain for alternative adjectives to Rocco's in order to describe folks who are so insistent on proclaiming loudly, in full view of our enemies, that the U.S.A. is seriously considering a declaration of defeat, even going so far as to attempt to set actual dates for which those enemies can plan.

Posted by: Justin Katz at July 17, 2007 6:13 AM

Why is it when anyone who questions the reasons why we went to "war" is automatically branded intellectually inferior? That is the chief rhetorical device the Rove Republican Party uses against anyone who dares question the logic of our little expedition. When that fails question their patriotism. When that fails question why they would question our great leader. (Do we live in North Korea?)

Remember Congress never declared war, it just handed little George a blank check to hand over our tax dollars to mercenaries and oil companies.

Why aren't you "small government" conservatives outraged over that? We are blowing billions on this failure. We also have a ballooning trade deficit with China. Do you really think that benefits us? No. Red China owns most our debt.

Do you want to know something even more outrageous? What happened to that wonderful proposition that this war would pay for itself with oil profits? That went away like that the dust in the wind. Why? Because our government would rather continue its addiction to OPEC oil and its alliance with 15,000 feuding Saudi princes who are doing nothing to help Americans.

Before you Republicans wrap yourself in an American flag and scream how unpatriotic we are....please examine how badly a Republican administration has screwed up its expedition to Iraq. And please examine who the GOP's movers and shakers are doing business with.

Oh and one last point. Do you want to know why the media doesn't report about the good news in Iraq? BECAUSE THERE IS NO GOOD NEWS IN IRAQ!

Posted by: John at July 17, 2007 9:42 AM


The two issues are the same in regard to how they reflect how we as Americans treat our differences of opinion on matters of politics and policy, which was the subject of your "bigot" post. I believe that by posting Rocco's diatribe, you are being inconsistent.

In your "bigot" post, you point out the "small-minded lack of empathy and hostile usage of language" of those who call opponents of same-sex marriage "bigots".

Now, in a discussion about the war, substitute for "bigot" one of the phrases Rocco uses to describe opponents of the war, such as "perverse and wholly unpatriotic". I think you can see how, like "bigot", this demonizes the other side and closes the door on productive discussion. Rocco may or may not have valid points to make. I wouldn't know, because I stopped reading after the third insult. In fact, as with calling someone a "bigot", the point seems only to enrage the opposition and provoke "amen" from the choir. There is no interest whatsoever in convincing or being convinced. There is no effort to provoke thought.

I am sure I did not overstate Rocco's position, as he stated it very clearly himself. To say, as you do, that Rocco *really* only thinks that I am "wrong" or "misguided", and not "perverse", "immoral" and "unpatriotic", as he actually said, doesn't help me. You can't just insult people's patriotism (not mine anyway) and then say that. At that point, I've already walked away. Given what you've said about the function of the word "bigot", I don't think you would accept this move after someone used the word to describe you. Nor would it be reasonable to expect you to.

As your post on "bigot" demonstrates, language is very, very powerful. We are all often careless with it, myself included. But, to deliberately choose language whose goal is to divide and ridicule rather than to find common ground is sad and unhelpful. For people who have the ear of many to do so, whether it's Al Frankin, Ann Coulter, or the bloggers on Anchor Rising or RIFuture, is something much worse.

You may have already reached the conclusion that I am hopelessly quaint or over the top on this point, but after many years of observation I have come to this conclusion: Our Country is in deep and serious trouble, and so is the State of RI. Both are in desperate need of mature and far-sighted statesmen. They are also in need earnest citizens who are committed to solving our collective problems with as much good will and fairness as they can muster. Quieter times might give more leeway for tantrums and insult-trading, but, at this point, I think that the people who continue to degrade our political discourse are worse than useless, they are dragging us down quickly.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in robust and open debate. I'm pretty close to an absolutist on freedom of speech and am not trying to censor anyone. But having a right to say something doesn't make it right to say it.

You've done an excellent job of establishing a widely-read blog. You have a tremendous opportunity to advance intelligent public debate on important issues in a way that could help all of us. I just don't think that flinging invective is the way to do it, whether the issue is Iraq, same-sex marriage or anything else, and I would encourage you not to promote it.

Posted by: Thomas at July 17, 2007 10:35 AM

I don't think anyone can make accusations of "intellectual inferiority".

However, I think most conservatives understand that a withdrawal from Iraq does not equate to an end to fighting. We'll be dealing with the problem of Islamofascism long after we leave Iraq. It seems that many Democrats think we can just leave Iraq and then things will get better.

Onto some more of your points.

Many conservatives have expressed concern about the spending of the administration. In an earlier post, I questioned whether continuing to expend resources in Iraq was the best way to continue the broader war against Islamofascism.

In his post, Mac held the Rumsfeld-led Defense Department responsible for some of the war's miscalculations, so I think there is an ongoing examination of the Administration's handling of the war.

As for your final thought about there being no good news in Iraq, that's simply not the case. The Kurdish areas have come a long way from the genocide they experienced under Saddam. The Sunnis in Anbar Province, once the most volatile province in Iraq, are coming over the the US-led side. The media does not report much of this, in part because of bias, but also because good news doesn't sell papers.

The real question is whether the limited progress being made in some areas of Iraq is worth the vast expenditure of resources and lives or is there a better way to fight the conflict?

Posted by: Anthony at July 17, 2007 11:25 AM

1. You’re the one saying America’s current leaders acting in the interests of OPEC and feuding Saudi princes, so if anyone is “questioning somebody’s patriotism”, it’s you.

2. It’s not questioning anyone’s patriotism to point out that there are people who really believe that the United States would be better off if it pursued policies of appeasement, isolationism and greater subservience to multi-lateral organizations. It’s their understanding of history and politics that’s being questioned, not their patriotism.

3. “Small government” conservatives can support the war in Iraq because they see a legitimate function of the Federal government to be defending the US from foreign entities that would like to unite as much of the world as they can grab under totalitarian rule. “Small government” conservatism is decidedly not synonymous with the pseudo-libertarian position that there’s no problem with crushing, all-powerful government surrounding the United States on multiple fronts.

Posted by: Andrew at July 17, 2007 12:13 PM

I only pipe up here to keep a finger on what bothered me about the post these comments relate to:

Andrew said "2. It’s not questioning anyone’s patriotism to point out that there are people who really believe that the United States would be better off if it pursued policies of appeasement, isolationism and greater subservience to multi-lateral organizations. It’s their understanding of history and politics that’s being questioned, not their patriotism."

The post that began all of this, in particular the excerpted and linked piece by Rocco DiPippo, did, in fact, unequivocally and explicitly accuse Democratic opponants of the war of being unpatriotic.

Posted by: Thomas at July 17, 2007 12:28 PM

I agree with Thomas. But the reality is that, for a vast majority of congress, “the war” has become a purely political issue. Why are the Democrats attacking war supporters? Not because they are unpatriotic. For one reason only, it helps them politically. It riles up their partisan supporters.

I recall when democrats were crying foul against Bush and other Republicans who used 9/11 for political purposes in advertisements. How dare they use such a tragic event for political gain! But of course these same people are using the tragedy of what is happening in Iraq as political fodder. What is the difference?

My kingdom for an intelligent, fair-minded debate on this issue. There is one to be made on either side. To assert that the US had no choice but to invade Iraq is ridiculous. To assert that the invasion was based on lies and/or there was no value to taking Saddam out is also untrue.

For the most part, it is currently the Democrats behaving badly by using the war as battering ram against Republicans. This whole ‘need to hold someone accountable’ or ‘withdraw’ rhetoric shows a lack of integrity in my mind. Of course, in my opinion, if this were a Democratic administration, then Rush Limbaugh would be interviewing Cindy Sheehan while Democrats would be the ones dealing with the sad reality of how to deal with the current situation while Republicans would be using the simplistic sound bites. Both parties have shown that they are willing to take the load road in the game of political gamesmanship.

But overall, I agree that most Democrats (exceptions like Joe Lieberman) are taking the low road and exploiting the situation in Iraq for political gain rather than trying to do ‘the right thing’. And the articles that identify it for what it is, are for the most part accurate.

Posted by: msteven at July 17, 2007 4:52 PM

Hi, Justin. Miss me?

Go read this piece by Wm Odom, a retired general.


He talks about the unprecedented demands we are making on these troops. In WWII, 180 days of combat was considered "combat exhaustion." The standard rotation for the troops in Iraq has been a full year. And now, many troops are facing their 4th tour. In case you lost count, that's three full years of combat for a lot of these soldiers.

Given that, the people who are using these fine men and women for political advantage are the president and his cronies.

It's revolting.

Bet you don't have the guts to go read the piece.

Posted by: klaus at July 17, 2007 8:05 PM

Well, Klaus, I'm betting that you don't have the objectivity or the courtesy to discuss my reaction to Odom's piece, so I won't even bother to offer it.

Posted by: Justin Katz at July 17, 2007 9:19 PM


I've reread Rocco's post carefully, and I still don't see where he has anything to say about "opponents of the war" writ large. He deliberately specifies the Democratic Party, including its supporters in the mainstream media, and especially that party's leadership.

I will allow that I wouldn't argue the matter as Rocco does; indeed, I offered the link and quotation without an amen and with specific reference (albeit a facetious one) to his tone. Still, when a friend of mine returns from a voluntary and extended private venture to a war zone, I think it worthwhile to direct attention to what he has to say. There's a reason he feels so strongly about those in Washington who insist that it's merely a matter of admitting a defeat that has already happened, and I must admit that I'm sympathetic to the counterargument to yours that such cynical manipulators of public emotions, who are willing to send a region into bloody turmoil that will surely spill back onto our own soil, only stand to benefit from having their market-tested and activist-approved rhetoric treated with civil kids' gloves.

Posted by: Justin Katz at July 17, 2007 9:48 PM

Dear Friends,

Rocco has identified the Democratic Party as many things in the past.

Good thing for your sake he does. Imagine if Rocco sat on his hands?? Oh my God, we'd have a 200 seat majority in the House and all the seats in the GA.

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at July 17, 2007 10:21 PM


You say you didn't offer Rocco's post with an "amen"? Fine, but it was clearly a wink and a grin.

JK said: -" I've reread Rocco's post carefully, and I still don't see where he has anything to say about "opponents of the war" writ large. He deliberately specifies the Democratic Party, including its supporters in the mainstream media, and especially that party's leadership."

I'll accept that, if you'll accept that I may say, "the anti-same sex movement, it's supporters in the media, and especially it's leaders, are bigots", and then legitimately argue that I haven't said anything about same-sex marriage opponents "writ large"?

Frankly, I think you're slicing the point too fine. I'd rather just accept that poison is poison, and people who care about our public discourse should condemn it whatever its source. At a minimum they should not help spread it. We'll get a lot further as a nation that way.

I confess that I find the last clause of your final sentence somewhat difficult to parse:

JK said: " ...I must admit that I'm sympathetic to the counterargument to yours that such cynical manipulators of public emotions, who are willing to send a region into bloody turmoil that will surely spill back onto our own soil, only stand to benefit from having their market-tested and activist-approved rhetoric treated with civil kids' gloves"

so let me just say:

My argument is, and has been, that liberals and conservatives alike who persist in trying to score points by demonizing their opponents, name-calling and character assassination are very, very bad for our country. I don't see what the "counter-argument" to that is, but feel free to enlighten me.

It seems to me that you are insisting that it is OK for your friends to call others unpatriotic for their views on the war, but not OK for people to call you a bigot for your views on same-sex marriage. At least I haven't heard you say otherwise.

If you're saying there shouldn't be a double-standard, I agree fully, and that's exactly what I am saying. However, I don't think the fact that some people behave badly entitles me to do so. I hope you can agree.

Oh, I should say that, if you have any interest in carrying this further (I think I've probably said all I care to, but I'm happy to go on if you wish to), please forgive if the response is delayed, as I will be in and out of internet range for a bit. (NOW you can say "amen :)

Posted by: Thomas at July 18, 2007 12:09 AM

Sorry Thomas, I just don't agree. My bigotry post was less about name-calling, per se, than about the legal and social mousetrap that disallows traditionalists from having a say in their own legal regime. As far as I know, nobody on the right is trying to disallow disturbed Marxists et al. from having a legal ability to affect their government's policies.

I generally agree that name calling is best avoided, but at the same time, when one thinks people in power are hiding behind a facade of woundedness at such accusations as "unpatriotic," then it is legitimate to call them out on it. If you think leaders of the opposition to SSM are bigots, then say so with an explanation. I'll say again: I don't see that Rocco has said that anybody who opposes the war is [invective] simply on the basis of opposing the war and therefore ought to be shut out of the democratic process, which would have been the parallel to "bigot" in the SSM debate.

Posted by: Justin Katz at July 18, 2007 6:27 AM

One more thing:

With their years of expressing, or otherwise signaling, their anxiousness to declare defeat, the Democrats have made victory more difficult by giving our enemies a clear, feasible, and relatively cheap goal for which to shoot and by giving our allies in Iraq reason to resist putting all their wagons in our caravan. That is despicable, and there's no parallel in the SSM debate. Somebody might point out that SSM opponents are preventing homosexuals from changing the definition of marriage to include them, but that's our goal, and I don't think anybody would claim it as their goal (outloud, anyway) to effect an American military defeat.

Posted by: Justin Katz at July 18, 2007 7:34 AM

Klaus, let me guess this straight.

You are asserting that the President and his cronies are demanding that the troops remain in combat well beyond their exhaustion point despite the pleas from the military leaders. And the reason they are demanding this is to gain political advantage.

Exactly what political advantage is being gained by using exhausted troops? The troops are losing battles, the war is very unpopular as is the President. And meanwhile you are saying that the President is continuing to demand the more of the troops while the military pleads that the troops are tired.

That’s a very lame argument – try this as it is more plausible than yours. The President and his cronies are evil beings who get pleasure out of seeing men and women break over the stress of combat exhaustion. That is why they lied to start the war and don’t want to end it until every last member of our armed services has been broken or killed.

You gotta like that. Go for it.

Posted by: msteven at July 18, 2007 9:18 AM
The troops are losing battles

Where? If our military had lost a battle, it would have been front page news for at least a couple of weeks. The terrorists would have had a video of the bodies all stacked up and be seen dancing in the streets. Point it out for us.

Posted by: smmtheory at July 18, 2007 5:04 PM

You're right - there are no 'battles' per se.

I was trying to make a point to Klaus's comment about the so-called 'political advantage' the President is getting by forcing exhausted troops into combat.

And I also agree that if there were 'battles' lost, it would be front page news - as opposed to the burying of news which do not support the agenda of portraying the war negatively.

Posted by: msteven at July 19, 2007 11:14 AM

In klaus' defense, I don't think he ever asserted that "the troops are losing battles."

He did assert that the armed forces have been stretched incredibly thin and said the president is using them to his political advantage.

I disagree with the second part of his statement and agree with the first.

The president isn't benefiting politically from Iraq. There is no question in my mind that he is doing what he thinks is necessary to protect America. I say this even though I question whether there is another means to obtain the same objective and I feel the president has fallen short in mobilizing the national will.

As far as the other matter, our country is asking ALOT of a very, very few.

In WWII, virtually every healthy male from 18-35 fought and 66% of the fighting force were draftees.

Nearly 2.6 million Americans served in Vietnam and 25% were draftees.

Only a fraction of that number has served in Iraq, none of them are draftees, and those that are serving often serve multiple tours in Iraq while the rest of the nation worries Paris Hilton.

They are the only thing preventing Iraq from deteriorating into a full-blown civil war and their presence in post-war Iraq is saving hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives.

We owe them alot.

Posted by: Anthony at July 19, 2007 11:39 AM

Small government conservatives in my reading of history used to be "isolationists." They cared about waste, fraud and abuse. They also cared about everyone in our country getting a square deal. Getting the same shot as everyone else as achieving the American dream.
Not getting a leg up, but being on the same level playing field as everyone else.

The new Republican, the Neo-Con, is greedy, self-serving and totally myopic.

I liked the Republican Party much better when William F. Buckley, Barry Goldwater and Teddy Roosevelt were the locii of ideological bearing.

Please connect the dots for me where a secular dictator like Saddam Hussein would have any association with Osama Bin-Laden? Lest we not forget, that's how this "war" was sold. The new Bush-Rove-Cheney Fascist Republic Party wrapped itself up in Old Glory and played off our fears about how we'll be attacked. (Smoking Gun, Mushroom Cloud...Smoking Gun, Mushroom Cloud)

Osama Bin-Laden is a wahabi//salafist//fundamentalist. Saddam was a Baathist dictator. Baathism is a secular movement.
For those two to associate would be the same as Pat Roberston and Hugo Chavez to chill out together at a bodega.

For anyone who wishes to assail this point, please read Michael Scheuer's book.

Here's the other little known or ignored fact about bin Laden. He used to be a construction engineer. If you go on the web and find his manifesto he wants the same resources the Western world wants...OIL. His biggest ruse is the fact he's religious too. His wacko ideology is just a recruiting tool to get ignorant, indigent young men to kill us. His dream is to set up an OIL caliphate and enrich himself.

Do you really want to know how we win the War on Terror? Get off OIL. Stop enriching inbred Saudi princes. And start investing in green technology. If we can send a man to the moon in 10 years, then we can do this too. Here's one point Thomas Friedman is actually correct on: The new red, white and blue is green!

Posted by: John at July 19, 2007 8:14 PM


So, both Saddam and Osama were materialists making a play of religion. Yeah, how could they possibly "associate" with each other?

Posted by: Justin Katz at July 19, 2007 8:24 PM


1. People (that would be you) who can't separate real fascists from imaginary ones need to read more history.

2. As I said before, there's nothing "small government" about taking the position that totalitarian government is acceptable, so long as it's only "other people" getting crushed by the totalitarians.

3. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez have chilled at the same bodega (even though you would claim that's impossible, because they have different ideologies), so your current events is as bad as your history.

4. Theodore Roosevelt was not a small government conservative. He wasn't an isolationist either.

5. Oligarchies with differing ideologies can work together because they care more about power than ideology. It's amazing that the people who consider themselves "realists" expect everyone to be oblivious to this point.

Posted by: Andrew at July 20, 2007 10:02 AM

Andrew said: "5. Oligarchies with differing ideologies can work together because they care more about power than ideology. It's amazing that the people who consider themselves "realists" expect everyone to be oblivious to this point. "

This is completely off-topic, I realize, but I can't read this and help thinking about the RI Dems. currently in control of the General Asembly. In particular, of their support (with Montalbano's lead) of the tax cuts for the most wealthy and the flat-funding of spending on schools while increasing the dept. of ed. budget. (Not to mention the Lincoln courthouse).

Whose interest does ideological division among the the mass of society serve? We continue to attack each other on ideological grounds while the oligarchs make hay.

Posted by: Thomas at July 21, 2007 1:12 AM

Here's my question. Can you explain, without ideology interfering in your logic, why we invaded Iraq?

I don't know why. I don't think most of America knows anymore. I don't think the Bushies know why anymore.

And if you think this has to do with us liberating oppressed people, I urge you to consider how simplistic that argument is. I am all for liberating oppressed people too. So why don't we ask the Turks to let the Kurds rule themselves. Why don't we kill Robert Mugabe and Kim Jong Il?

Posted by: John at July 24, 2007 10:14 AM
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