Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Viewer Mail

I've been really proud of the activity on my comments section lately. Some people who disagree with me have been using the comments section to challenge me on various issues for some time now and I’ve enjoyed engaging with them in a way the right-wing usually doesn’t in the Real World. Sometimes, two commenters just go at it for a couple of days while I stand off to the sidelines and watch. I know I’ve posted something interesting if, two or three days later, people are still posting, still arguing, still engaging in the comments.

My last post about "Peace" and "The Law" drew some of the usual suspects. I find that, the more I answer all of their (they think) trick questions, the more the right-wingers eventually raise the volume beyond 11 – all the way to shrill.

For instance, here’s some love from a regular commenter who regularly hides behind the Anonymous tag. It’s sometimes hard to tell one Anony from another, but this guy has a familiar aroma that I can smell a mile away:

Mike, why do you hate the military so much? Did they kick you out on a section 8 (a la Corp. Klingar)? My guess is that you successfully dodged the draft or else you wouldn't have the vitriol that you do. Please tell me a situation where our military action is warranted. You seem to be against all forms of intervention, attack, etc.

Here we see several characteristics of the right-winger with his back to the wall, desperate to score points. Note the groundless assertion that I "hate the military" and that I’m "against all forms of intervention". This is a regular game in all of wing-nuttydom – imputing to me words I’d never use and thoughts I never had. And, no comment thread (especially with this guy) is complete without the unwarranted the personal attack (how does he know I wear dresses? Sometimes, it’s just a lucky guess...).

Regardless of the fact that some of these folks do not approach the arguments in good faith and just want to do damage, I still ignore the personal asides and actually answer the factually-challenged questions. I wrote this in response, posting it here instead of on the comment thread:

In 1970, when I was 15, I wrote to Sen. Proxmeier and told him I would go to jail rather than submit to the draft. He wrote back and told me to calm down, the draft would be over by then. He was right. When I was 18, it was the first year of no-lottery and before mandatory registration, so I missed the whole thing. I know and respect people who went to Vietnam, went to Canada, went to jail. I also know all of the chicken hawks so bravely sending our sons and daughters to their deaths – from Cheney, Bush and Rumsfeld to the media enablers Limbaugh, Kristol and the pathetic Newt Gingrich – never served a day during Vietnam or any other shooting war.

I don't hate the military. I love every soldier that has died or been maimed in this Stupid War. I want to prevent more such deaths. Why you want them to stay in harm's way for the neo-cons' grand designs is beyond me. If I were playing the same games, I would say: why do you "hate" them so much that you will allow 1,000 deaths and countless injuries for another year of this shit? I don't really think you hate them, Anony, but why so indifferent to the danger Bush has put – and kept – them in? I think the burden is on you, at this point.

Not that I have to anything to prove, but I wrote a song last year called "Shake a Hand, Make a Friend". Here's the last verse:

He takes off into the setting sun
Young soldier holding to his gun
Called to duty and he does it well
Free-fire in a living hell

In the airport I smile and wave
I give a shout out to the brave
I'll do my part I'll do my share
To beat the bastards that put him there.

There are lots of legitimate uses of the greatest military in the world, but one person's defense – especially this ridiculous "pre-emption" notion – is another person's imperialism. Are there threatening armies amassed at the Canadian or Mexican border (I mean soldiers, not immigrants)? That's easy. We have commitments to NATO, Israel, South Korea, whatever – if they are invaded, we honor our commitments.

It is quite another thing to say, if we don't like a country or its leaders, that we have the right to invade and depose just because they are blustering or because they don't have our version of "freedom". That this is madness – especially in the volatile Middle East – has been proven in spades in Iraq. But it’s nothing that anyone with any sense didn’t know ahead of time.

Another semi-regular is patrick, who can also be seen commenting on many of the right-wing blogs. This was a long one you can check out for yourself, but here are some excerpts:

Mike, As far as revisionist history goes, you're amazing. Look through all the statements of your democratic officials--the Clintons, Pelosi, all of them. Examine the UN record. Note the invasion of Kuwait, the use of poison gas on the Kurds, the mass graves discovered in Iraq in the first months of the war. That's not crap.

Those on the right like to pretend that, just because some Dems saw Hussein as a potential problem that they also advocated the same "solution". But it is one thing to identify problems and crimes in another country, as Clinton and others did with Hussein, and quite another to invade-and-depose. The goal for some was "regime change" but no Democrat (except Lieberman) ever advocated that. And they were right – now look at the mess we've gotten ourselves into in Iraq.

Whatever happened to the left I once celebrated--one that wanted to stand up for the terrified masses?...

Yeah, sure you did, patrick....that's what they all say. And they all lie.

As for Iran, consider the way they treat those who descent, the beatings of women who fail to cover themselves. the treatment of women in general. ...Consider their material support for the insurgents in Iraq today...Consider their pursuit of nuclear weapons and their holocaust denyer president....Finally, note how our cultures are opposed: we love freedom, debate, vicious debate, even; they value slavish conformity to brutal and repressive, patriarchal and fanatic religion. ...Maybe you need to read a little more about Iran. I'd recommend Michael Ledeen as found at NRO. Either way, Iran embodies everything we in the west find disgusting and low.

Now you want to invade "disgusting and low" Iran. Please.

One of the primary reasons the neo-cons invaded Iraq – although they won't admit it – was because Hussein was such a weak pushover. Iran and Syria are the real targets of the neo-cons, but they were (just barely) smart enough to know that both countries have the broad support of enough of its populace to put up a fierce resistance if the Bushies were foolish enough to try this stunt in either of those places.

So they knocked over Hussein, the paper tiger, immediately moved bin Laden’s hated military bases from Saudi Arabia and tried to occupy the Arab version of the Wild West. We have already ruined our relations with the Arab world for generations by invading Iraq. The dirty secret, despite our blustering, is that invading Iran is absolutely out of the question. It falls to neo-con Michael Ledeen to pollute the Iran bogey-man stories with the same sort of breathless hyperbole that gets Republican candidates saying stupid things and, not coincidentally, sells books for him. The rule of thumb should be: Don’t believe anything about Iran that comes from the administration or the National Review. No two institutions have ever been more consistently wrong. About everything.

So keep those comments coming, campers! The more we engage, the more we learn from each other. The comments section can be like a crowbar to create the open mind. Or, as another famous Clinton (George, he of Parliment/Funkadelic) once proclaimed: Free your mind, and your ass will follow!


Anonymous said...

I suspect what they're really driving at is not "the military" but militarism, defined by Andrew Bacevich as "a romanticized view of soldiers, a tendency to see military power as the truest measure of national greatness, and outsized expectations regarding the efficacy of force."

Unknown said...

"It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets." ~Voltaire

AnyWar AnyWhere AnyTime:

Pros and Cons of the War:

God is Pro-War:

illusory tenant said...

Is that the same "Patrick" who is the most politically influential blogger in Wisconsin?

Anonymous said...

Gee, thanks Mike, you're light a ray of light from above, you really are.

I am, however, still awaiting you to tell me when you would ever use our military. Israel? S. Korea? Haven't we already been there before? Haven't we already been fighting a de-facto war by selling Israel a ton of arms to defend themselves?

You say a war with Iran is exactly what the "neo-cons" want and you couldn't be further from the truth. But keep saying it if it makes you feel better as a peacenik liberal.

What would happen if Iran decided to bomb Israel? Would you support a full scale attack on Iranian targets? Something tells me that your I-don't-want-to-serve mentality would oppose any such action, especially if Bush were still in office.

Anonymous said...

What's more, what if these weren't hypothetical questions? What would you libruls do then, huh?

Anonymous said...

Hypothetical? Let's see, today, that nut-job in Iran has drawn up plans to bomb Israel. The war between Iran and Israel is not that far off. But alas, we ought to just sit this one out and observe from the sidelines as the 2nd holocaust takes place.

Anonymous said...

OMFG! I hadn't heard that! Why, that changes everything!

Mike Plaisted said...

No, Anony, again you deliberately put words in my mouth that are never there. How about actually addressing an issue based on the words I actually use for once?

Iran bombs Israel, we come to Israel's defense. That's easy. But not preemptively and not based on anything our government says they are about to do or or might do or that they might get nukes or anything like that -- they lie. And not based on anything the neo-cons like Ledeen, Kristol or those other goofs say -- same problem.

But, if there are bombs in the air, off we go, full-force. Israel will have its own, quicker response, probably (and unfortunately) nuclear. Guess what -- Iran knows that. That's why they're not going to try any such thing.

See how it works, Anony? You look at the facts you have, consider the source, negotiate if you can, strike only as a last resort. Not so bad. We've been doing it around the world since WWII, until Junior got on his high horse and destroyed 60 years of positive diplomacy and international good will.

Anonymous said...

That's why they're not going to try any such thing.

They won't try anything because they don't have to. Thanks to der Preznit, they've got America's balls in a vice (and thus the high-pitched squealing from the chickenhawk brigade).

Anonymous said...


To quote you:"No, [Mike], again you deliberately put words in my mouth that are never there. How about actually addressing an issue based on the words I actually use for once?" I never said we should invade Iran. But I find it really distressing that you believe "The rule of thumb should be: Don’t believe anything about Iran that comes from the administration or the National Review. No two institutions have ever been more consistently wrong. About everything." How Closed-minded. The real rule of thumb seems to be--if it fits the Mike Plaisted "I haven't been wrong since I wrote the congressman"--template, it must be right.

You might consider the following from Amir Tahiri's recent NYPost Sept. 17 article:"President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has promised to "cleanse" the Iranian educational system of what he calls "the corrupt influence of the infidel" and has mobilized a special militia to crush the expected student revolts." or"In Tabriz, all seven members of the students union were picked up and taken to an unknown destination last month. The families of two of them claim that they may have died under torture. In Tehran, more than 150 student activists have been "disappeared" in recent weeks." My point is that this is a monsterous regime that is already engaged in a proxy war with us. They have already started it. I don't know that we should invade, I suggest we start by destroying the single refinery their entire economy depends on. How many students should vanish before hyperbole becomes reality?

And while no Dem may have called for regime change in those words, the warnings regarding the danger from Iraq and Hussein ARE well documented. Among the most interesting are the links between Iraq and AlQueda she warns about in her Oct. 2002 speech.

Finally, I think its criminal to believe that a nuclear exchange is on the way and not do anything to prevent it. A pre-emptive strike might be dangerous, misguided, enraging, but to allow the millions of deaths--arab and isreali--is even more disgusting.

Further, if we had all this goodwill for the last 60 years, why did the terrorists hit the twin towers during Clinton's presidency? Why did Iran take the hostages during Carter's term (and I know the answer to the last)?

Finally, I, who comments here semi-regularly, am not an influential blogger, not do I pretend to be one on this site. I just read here to get the other side and become involved in debate. I have never posted on a right-wing blog, but I imagine there is more than one patrick on the net these days.

Other Side said...

IT: Apparently not. The other Patrick is too busy signing autographs on talking points memos.

Other Side said...

For our other Patrick:

I don't know that we should invade, I suggest we start by destroying the single refinery their entire economy depends on.

That wouldn't be an act of war?

and ...

A pre-emptive strike might be dangerous, misguided, enraging, but to allow the millions of deaths--arab and isreali--is even more disgusting.

Some dichotomy.

Anonymous said...

Amir Tahiri? Amir Tahiri? Are you effing kidding me?

I supposed you're a big fan of Clifford Irving and James Frey as well.

Mike Plaisted said...


So let's look at what did happen when a bomb went off in the Twin Towers basement in 1993. Those directly responsible were successfully prosecuted in a court of law. The Clinton administration made the pursuit of al Quaeda a major priority (scoff if you want -- read Richard Clarke), including at least one attempt to bomb bin Laden. Our relations with other countries, in the Middle East and elsewhere, continued to be positive and, if we needed help, we got it. Compare that to now, when the U.S. is an international pariah. Nice work, Bush.

9/11 was, of course, a much more serious event and I reluctantly supported the invasion of Afganistan to rout al Quaeda and their enablers in the Taliban. That action was not preemptive and was directly related to the destruction of the Twin Towers. I agree with John Edwards that a broader "war on terror" is a bumper-sticker more than a reality and certainly has nothing to do with the Iraq invasion.

You know, one thing about bad things happening, either in Hussein's Iraq or Iran now, is that, if we are going to go around the world kicking the asses of all evil-doers, I think both Iraq and Iran would have to go to the back of the line, behind the other bad guys. If Iran is harassing student activists (possibly, but I'm not going to take Amir Tahiri's word for it), that's pretty small potatoes compared to what is going on in Darfur, Bangladesh, our friends Egypt (journalists in prison, closes human rights organization)and Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, China (demolition of settlement where 4,000 petitioners live), Thailand, Burma --- I don't know how to do links in the comments section, but google Human Rights Watch and find out what's going on around the world (not to mention our own human rights disaster at Guantanamo).

Tell ya what: Let's line up all the bad guys in the world and take an internet vote: Who do we go after first. Even with phony facts from Tahiri, Ledeen, et al, if Iran cracks the top-20, I'd be surprised.

Bomb the refinery? Excellent idea. Let's see where Iran's puny 350 non-nuclear scuds (from the paper this morning) land, and then what have you accomplished? Another attack on an Arab country. Let's see how pissed off we can get the region and the world. Really interested in world peace, aren't you?

I don't think a nuclear "exchange" is on the way. Israel may respond with a nuclear device to any nonsense from Iran, but there will be nothing headed the other way -- they don't have it (and don't want it, they say. Their enrichment program is for energy, they say. Anything to the contrary is bogey-man speculation.)

Think about it, patrick. Imagine the day after either an invasion or facility strike (no difference, really) in Iran. What's the result? What gets better? More important, what gets inexorably worse?

Sorry, man. America is done with cowboy-reckless. It's time for the grown-ups to move back in.

Anonymous said...

Another great Henley post: the Barber of Beirut.

The central point war floggers fail to understand is that those crazy furriners are just like them. When they're pushed, their instinctive reaction is to want to push back. Ahmadinejad's popularity ebbs and flows in direct proportion with Bush's belligerence, both real and perceived and irrespective of our motives. Pointing out this essential truth is not "blaming America first;" it's recognizing reality.

Anonymous said...

My goodness Mike, you really are off the wing-nut, echo-chamber liberal deep end.

What good did "successfully prosecuting" those responsible for the 1993 WTC attacks do? Did that end terrorism or even put a minor dent in it? It did NOTHING other than embolden other terrorists by giving them hope that they could get within our borders and undertake such a massive attack. Fortunately the 1993 crew underestimated what they needed to take down the towers but we knew what the wanted to do as evidenced by 9/11/01.

Please tell me what other "help" we got from other Arab countries during the Clinton years? I don't recall any. And if any was offered (i.e. offering up Osama) Clinton refused it (read: Losing bin Laden).

Did Afghanistan attack us on 9/11? No, al-Qaida/Osama did while hiding out in countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, et al. Would you have "reluctantly" supported going into those countries as well?

Iran is a human rights struggle, it's a struggle with a dictator hellbent on getting nuclear energy (although I know you trust him not to use it for military reasons). Of those other countries listed (Burma, Thailand, etc) please tell me which one of those are trying desperately to obtain nuclear weapons or which of those countries have detailed plans to attack another country? I'm not talking about some group within a country fighting another group in a neighboring country, I'm talking about an official head of state such as Ahmadinejad in Iran.

"It's time for the grown ups to move back in" = isolation, hoping and praying we don't get attacked again and that everyone in the world likes us b/c it's a popularity contest.

Mike Plaisted said...

"Did that end terrorism or even put a minor dent in it?" Well, it certainly didn't make it worse, which every step of the neo-con grand design has done. I'd rather have a chance at a minor tent than the kind of swollen malignancy created by the Bushies.

Ahmadinejad is a joke in his own country. He can obviously talk up a storm, but he doesn't have tha actual power to pull the trigger on anyone. There is no proof that Iran is trying "desperately to obtain nuclear weapons" and any "detailed plans to attack another country" are delusional, at best. But you need a bogey-man to keep up this nonsense, so you can believe the Tooth Fairy or Bill Kristol, whatever makes you happy. But your own self-satisfaction doesn't change the fact that you are wrong.

I don't believe in isolation or hoping for the best. I believe in having good facts (un-cooked intellegence), negotiating from stength and cooperating with our allies to achieve our goals. There is not much wrong in this world that has a military solution. It will be a monumental task for the next president to repair the damage done by the recklessly imperialist Bushies. Honest diplomacy is not a dirty word.

Anonymous said...

Our freedom, along with other countries in the world, was had by "military solutions".

How can you possibly say that Clinton's reaction to the 1993 WTC bombing didn't make it worse? Do you not recall terrorist attacks against US targets in subsequent years? (USS Cole, Tanzania, Kenya, etc) Clinton's lack of action against OBL and al-Qaeda enabled those events to happen as well as 9/11. Had he not treated terrorism in a law & order manner going after people AFTER the fact, then maybe other plots could have been thwarted.

Your attitude toward Ahmadinejad is scary, most people thought Hitler was nuts too and wouldn't do anything major. I sure hope you're right Mike...

Other Side said...

Hitler's Germany was a first-rate world power, with an army and the industrial complex to back him up. Iran is a backwater, third-rate country.

Seems it wasn't too long ago you guys were saying the same thing about Hussein ... look where it got us. You were sure wrong!

Anonymous said...

[I]f you want to get all grand-strategic about it, the American political class, genus GOP, species Committee on the Present Danger, has simply, in 25 years, lost half a country’s worth of ground in the so-called War with Iran that began in 1979. Heckuva job, hegemonists!

Exactly right. Hopefully, the Moron in Chief's clueless acolytes will go back to watching Ow, My Balls! and leave the deciderin' to the adults.

Anonymous said...


How can you constantly claim to be such a man of reason, and yet continue to ignore facts regarding Iran. HRW.org is incomplete on Iran. Apparently their last report was in 1999 (maybe because the policies of Iran and anti-bush like theirs) Why don't you check what Amnesty International has to say about Iran; you'll note it is much the same as Ledeen and Tahiri. MAybe AI is actually a neo-con front too?

I just mention these things because I'm concerned about the baseless foundation for your comments and your willingness to shut your eyes to information you don't want to hear. After you accept that Iran is currently more of a threat to its own people and the world than Bush is, you might be able to take a more open look at the wider situation.

Iran is arming and training our enemies, they are at war with us already. Only the stupid lefty bush-hatred allows them to have their fun in the dark. Wake up.

And aside from vague comments about diplomacy, what would any dem. do secure the safety of the country? Pelosi and Co. have been THE power for months. What have they done to secure the ports? The borders? Improve the military? Improve intelligence? They've done nothing. Passed not one bill. But they've sure had time for subpeonas and investigations. True heroes.

Jim Bouman said...

Rumsfeld doesn't belong on your list of chickenhawks. He has lots of qualifications for other groups (I could see him fitting in nicely in the First Ring of the Seventh Circle of Hell, where those who were violent toward others spend eternity in a river of boiling blood.)

From Wikipedia:
Rumsfeld served in the U.S. Navy from 1954 to 1957 as a naval aviator and flight instructor. In 1957, he transferred to the Naval Reserve and continued his naval service in flying and administrative assignments as a drilling reservist until 1975. He transferred to the Individual Ready Reserve when he became Secretary of Defense in 1975 and retired with the rank of Captain in 1989."

He's got his own classification of despicable. But, chickenhawking isn't part of it.