Conservative-Liberal Comments Comments
One of history’s great liberals: Robert E. Lee
Yeesh, I have had so many thoughtful comments the last few days I hardly know where to begin. OK, that’s a lie, I have some idea. Several lines of thought have been inspired. I’m one of those people who thinks a lot. I’d say I think too much, but frankly I don’t think the race suffers from any surfeit of thinking. And heck, I’m a guy, so a lot of my thinking is about girls. Especially in my case since I never waste any time thinking about sports. Well, maybe girl’s sports. Heck, most of my life most of my friends have been women. If it worked for Robert E. Lee, it works for me. Does that make me a girlie man?
OK then. First I would say that for most purposes liberal/conservative is a false dichotomy. A false dichotomy is where two positions are considered to be the only two options, and other positions are not considered. (There are other nuances and terms, but that is how I am using the term here.) Most people’s views do not pigeon hole into one or the camp neatly. I’m an ex-Marine, former National Socialist who favours a balanced budget, the draft, abortion rights, the right to bear arms, and a non-interventionist foreign policy. Am I a conservative or a liberal? Beats me. I’m definitely not a Republican or Democrat, and have little good to say about politicians of almost any stripe. My point is that people who have blanket condemnations of liberals, conservatives, whatever…aren’t saying much about the real world. Few, if any, people will neatly fit into the mold of those they are decrying.
I’m still curious why more pro war folks aren’t calling for a draft and war taxes. Bush for example, he seems to be big on the decision thing. Why did he decide to fight what has clearly become a long, expensive war using credit cards and reservists? He’s not running for election again, there’s no reason he can’t make unpopular decisions. And while we are on the subject of Bush, I thought I’d throw out that whatever I may think of his policies, I’d still take a bullet for him. Yes, if an assassin goes for Bush and I’m around, I will be one of the folks protecting him with my body. Granted I sure hope this never happens, and if it’s not obvious, I would do so out of respect for the office, not the man. I would hope that any self respecting person, liberal, conservative, or otherwise would do the same for their leaders.
A point was raised about how America is “soft” now and doesn’t have the stomach for wars. I’ve been thinking about this lot, and I’ve decided it really isn’t true. I think it’s closer to the truth to say that wars have always been popular with war profiteers and certain politicians, much less so with everyone else. I’m willing to bet that even the most popular wars in history had plenty of people at the time who thought “surely there has to be a better way to settle this.” McClellan gave Lincoln a run for his money in the 1864 election for example. It’s real easy, and popular, to look back at glorious wars in the past and claim how popular they were. In fact, it’s such an obvious way to try to drum up support for a current war that it almost goes without saying that the glory and popularity of past wars is exaggerated. And again, it shouldn’t need to be said that wars tend to be more popular if they go well.
While I appreciate all the hopeful and optimistic views on Iraq, it’s still interesting to me that many people still believe that “if there’s a will, there’s a way.” In the real world, things are much more complicated that simple truisms allow. That statement might apply to an individual buying used car or passing the bar, it doesn’t apply to nations fighting wars. There are an infinite number of factors that determine who wins a war, willpower may be important but it doesn’t trump the rest. It’s entirely possible there isn’t a winning strategy in Iraq, this isn’t a football game, the greatest Hail Mary pass in history might not pull our fat from the fire.
In fact the two preceding paragraphs can be used to understand pro-war propaganda. It’s easy to claim that people who are against a war compare badly with heroes of the past. (Especially when said heroes aren’t around to comment on the current situation.) And it’s a lot easier to claim a war is going badly because “we aren’t trying hard enough” than to ask hard questions about how the war has been and is being fought. “What if” arguments and “if we’d only done that” arguments need to be used with great care, since it’s easy to manufacture one to support any position. I wish we hadn’t invaded Iraq, but arguing about it is mostly pointless now, what is done is done.
Someone asked if there are other blogs in Berkeley. I think the Daily Kos is based in Berkeley. There might be a few others, but as far as popular and important blogs go, we’re it. hehe. I almost never read the Daily Kos, it usually gets into the minutiae of politics and politicians. All well and good I suppose, but I kind of think that the minutiae of politicians and politics is about as important as keeping up with the plots and characters on Soap Operas. Also a lot of liberal thought makes my flesh crawl, yuppies and Billy Crystal affect me the same way.
I do appreciate a reader’s helpful suggestion that if I burst into flame, I can just douse myself with the coffee I spilt. It’s always nice to know that people are looking out for me. It’s a refreshing contrast from my enemies, who are looking for me as opposed to looking out for me. One isn’t really living unless one has enemies, but that’s for another day. :)
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
(The above image of General Robert E. Lee predates 1923 and is public domain under US copyright law. I just love old photographs.)