Wednesday, June 29, 2005

On Bush's Speech

It's late, and I'll post a full analysis tomorrow (or later today, actually).

I will say this. He did at least make an attempt to avoid the sugarcoating, and tried to be honest about the real situation on the ground. I wish he'd been more specific, though. He doesn't seem to think we need more troops, despite our low recruitment goals. His strongest point was when I pointed out the danger of an artifical timetable (I agree completely).

I tried to link Iraq to 9/11, but as expected, that link was specious at best. All that does is remind people of the lack of a collaborative link between 9/11 and Iraq, and the lack of WMDs. However, he's right when he points out that we must win in Iraq. Iraq has become a central front in the war on terror, and to lose, or pull out early, or to give our enemies an artifical timetable for withdrawal is bad for the Iraqis, and bad for Americans.

He encouraged us to support the troops, and praised their service. That was good. I swear he teared up towards the end. Let's hope he gives them more than lip service.

The speech was about a half hour, with nothing really new. He'll get a small bounce. The speech was better than expected.

The good crew over at Democracy Arsenal have a great analysis of the sppech as well, much more thorough than mine.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Dick Durbin, Karl Rove, and the Politics of War

Well it seems that Karl Rove has gotten himself into some trouble over his recent remarks about the liberal response to 9/11. Well, actually he hasn't, because despite calls for his resignation, the White House, and Republicans are defending his remarks. First off, here's what he said:

"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers."

Utterly ridiculous of course. He goes on:

"Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."

Even more ridiculous. The fact is, Rove's remarks are yet another attempt to do what he declared to do in the months following 9/11: to manipulate the tragedy for political gain. Essentially, he pulled an Ann Coulter (or a Sean Hannity). His outrageous and divisive rhetoric is disgusting, but nothing new.

Never mind that all the Democrats in Congress save one, voted for the war in Afghanistan. Never mind the support for the strikes against the terrorists amongst the American people was around 90 percent. Basically, the only ones opposing America's efforts in the WOT, were the most hardened radicals (the far-Left fringe campus intellectuals, the likes of A.N.S.W.E.R, the pretentous Hollywood jackanapes, the worst of, and the most deluded of peaceniks. In defending his remarks, Rove used quotes from said radicals, in order to paint mainstream liberals as deluded politicos at best, and self-interested traitors at worst. Sean Hannity does this every night. The difference is that Rove is Bush's top adviser.

Of course, Durbin's comments didn't help matters. While I am convinced that it was not his intent to slander the troops, his references to Nazis, Stalin, and Pol Pot were utterly stupid, and he was right to apologize. Durbin, by letting his passions get the better of him, made a ridiculous and dangerously silly remark. While some on the far Left will call his apology a capitulation, I believe Durbin rightly understood his comments were over the line.

But to be fair, Durbin's sin was that of hyperbole. He never meant to overtly compared the troops to Nazis. He did however, in his legit attempts to take a serious look at the conditions at Gitmo, go much to far in characterizing the facility. No matter how you look at it, comapring American policies to Nazi policies is utterly stupid. Anyway, here's excatly what he said:

"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings."

Like I said, utterly stupid, and over the line, but he never actually called them Nazis.

Getting back to Rove's idiocy for a moment, I don't think the Dems should spend all their energy fighting this. In fact, I'm convinced Rove did this specifically to fire up the base, and to lure Dems into another political trap. Dems will go after Rove, and ignore the larger concerns about the country's perceptions of the Party. Many in the country feel that Dems ahve no real plan, or even a desire to fight the War on Terror. This is the battle that needs to be fought. The Republicans have decided to play the political game, and all Dems seem to be able to do is to complain about how Republicans play the game. If we're to survive, the Dems need to counter the name-calling and politicization with a real strategy, not complaining, and more name-calling (I'm calling your name, Howard Dean).

Update: A thought just came to me. Another difference between Rove and Durbin's comments is that we know that Rove's comments were deliberate and calculated. Many have defended Rove's comments by suggesting that his comments didn't endanger the troops as Durbin's did. Well, those comments sure are divisive. A nation divided over the issue of war sure as Hell isn't good for the nation's morale. When the troops hear political leaders like Rove basically say that half the country doesn't support you (which is what Rush Limbaugh told them to their faces), how does that help morale? With the exception of the far fringe, and a handful of misguided fools, the country was united behind the WOT. It wasn't until the right-wingers began attacking the patriotism and the character of Democrats, that the divisions over the WOT began to really form. To be fair, many on the far Left did say some stupid sh-t, but do you all remember what happened to Max Cleland?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Taking a break from politics for a moment, I just wanted to let you know, the ECW One Night Stand PPV was the best PPV I've seen in 10 years. It was fantastic.

Oh, and JBL, you're an asshole.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Now Who's Playing Politics, Again?

I don't know how many of you have heard about this, but there has been a bit of an uproar over the preliminary plans for the International Freedom Center, which is to be part of the Ground Zero memorial. A lot of people (mostly it seems from the Right), including the sister of the fallen pilot of Flight 77 Debra Burlingame, have argued that the memorial has been apparently hijacked by "blame America first" left-wing groups. As I said, the right-wingers are all over this. Here what the IFC site says the mission is:


The International Freedom Center – a multi-dimensional cultural institution combining history, education and engagement – will be an integral part of humanity’s response to September 11. Rising from the hallowed ground of the World Trade Center site, it will serve as the complement, and its building as the gateway, to the World Trade Center Memorial, playing a leading role in the Memorial’s mission to “strengthen our resolve to preserve freedom, and inspire an end to hatred, ignorance, and intolerance.” •

The Center will include three major cultural components:

Museum Exhibition Spaces: telling freedom's story, inspiring visitors to appreciate it on a personal level by looking at the countless individual women and men around the world who have made a difference. Spurred by hundreds of hours of consultations with nearly 100 scholars, museum experts and leading thinkers, the museum will include a “Freedom Walk” – offering visitors a multimedia collage of some of freedom’s most inspiring moments, interwoven with deeply moving aunequaledled views of the Memorial – as well as a set of galleries offering compelling and thought-provoking treatments of great freedom issues and stories from around the world, throughout the ages and up to the moment. Temporary exhibits will draw on other historic sifreedom museumsums around the world. Educational and Cultural Center: sponsoring an extensive array of lectures, symposia, debates, films and other events in its theaters and public halls that will nurture a global conversation on freedom in our world today. Much of the Center’s evening programming will draw on offerings from members of a university consortium being assembled by the Center and its partner the Aspen Institute.

Universities that have already agreed to participate include the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Cape Town; New York, Columbia and the New School Universities and the City University of New York; and Princeton and Yale Universities. Another key source of evening programming will be a partnership between the Center and the Tribeca Film Festival and its year-round counterpart the Tribeca Film Institute. The Center’s public spaces will also provide a venue for important community and civic events. Civic Engagement Network: connecting visitors with opportunities to act freedom's serviceice in their own communities and around the world. Opportunities for service will be provided on site, and through a virtual network, and will run the gamut of visitor interests, from symbolic gestures to life-changing commitments. Leading NGOs will be offered outposts at the Center to reach out to its visitors. A service advisory board now includes 35 of the leading bi-partisan and non-partisan experts on service and civic engagement from across the nation; the group will soon expand to be international in scope. "

It doesn't seem that harmless to me. I think what there trying to do, besides the most important aspect (remembering the sacrifice of 9/11), is focus on the larger idea of our freedom. The opponents of the memorial argue that a lot of left-of-center scholars are on the advisory panel. And? The IFC says there'll a broad range of voices from all sides of the political spectrum. I do have a few concerns. I do not want this to really turn out to be a "Guilt Museum," as it has been called. I don't want to lose the primary focus of the memorial, that is 9/11. We probably should keep it rather simple, and focus mainly on 9/11. However, this memorial is still in development, and I have no real reason to question the motives of the founders, despite some of their anti-war sentiments. It seems that the only ones playing politics here are the right-wing scandalmongers. Their problem it appears is not that the memorial is political, rather that it's not their politics. Big surprise.

P.S. It should be noted that this IFC memorial will not be larger than the larger 9/11 memorial. You'd think, in these times when America, the West, and democracy are under constant assault by our terrorist foes, that we can have a memorial that declares the history of America's victories over tyranny, and our history of liberating the whole world.