Sunday, April 08, 2007

Brand Loyalists

There will always be a constant proportion of the population who are solely ideologically driven. Many are otherwise highly intelligent except when confronted with challenges to their belief system. They would rather succumb to the demagoguery or simply just stick their collective heads into the collective sand rather than have their beliefs challenged. That number tends to be around 25 percent - it is as low as approval ratings ever fall. It’s about how many people still believe there are WMD in Iraq or that Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were bosom buddies.

Then there are those who I would call “brand loyal.” They are straight ticket voters who generally identify with a party platform and stick with it, thick or thin. If you’re pro-choice you are generally affiliated with the Democrats; anti-abortionists, of course, align with the Republican Party. Other historical political party platform planks are not so easily identified anymore. Big government used to be the Democrat's territory, but the Republicans have created the biggest government ever. Still, those in favor of small government lean towards the Republicans, while the Libertarian Party, the only true small-government party, languishes as an ineffectual third party.

Bush II has lost the brand loyalists. Even Nixon’s California numbers at the height of Watergate never fell below about 25 percent. Bush's numbers here are almost as low. People don’t like to be wrong. Some don’t like it so much that the facts don’t much matter. But the truth, for many, trumps personal righteousness - and comfort. The many Republicans who have the personal integrity to admit not that they made a mistake, but that they were wrong in supporting a president who has, are the reason for Bush’s ever dwindling support. Indeed, this president might even prove that the “loyalty constant” is too high.

In my last piece, I ventured back into commenting on this administration for this first time since the 2007 State of the Union Address and the Democratic Response. Although I am not a registered Democrat, neither am I a Republican. I have no affiliation save this: I am not a fan of this administration; never have been. It’s not because Bush is a Republican. In my piece, I didn’t beat around the bush (sorry!). I called it like I see it, and Bush doesn’t come out looking good. I could have been far harsher - many of my readers were. There was one comment, however, that got me thinking.

Becca said...
I'll be honest enough to say I have mixed feelings. Many of the politicians who were gung ho on the war at the beginning are backpeddling now (and those are the ones who truly make me sick and why I hate politics in general). I supported the war not because of WMD or oil but because Saddam Hussein was a nut who put children in prison, gassed his own people (anyone remember the picture of the dead man holding his baby, it's sightless eyes staring upward?) and ran those who disagreed with him through a woodchopper. Even the UN said he had one of the worst human rights records in history. My friends in the military who've come back from Iraq say we hear mostly the negative news and very little of the good, such as schools being built and women's rights being restored. If nothing else, one of the most evil men on the planet is gone.
Sometimes I think we need to get out now, then I think if we do that, the lives that have been lost will be in vain. I don't know what the answer is...
4:14 PM, April 08, 2007

To which I replied:

Mr. Althouse said...
Becca ~ You asked some legitimate questions. Although I might not have the answer you're looking for, I do have some comparative information that could help shine some light on what the answer is not... but not necessarily what the answer is.

If this sounds like fodder for a future post, you are right. Stay tuned, tonight or tomorrow a response will be posted.

6:23 PM, April 08, 2007

Although “Becca” uses a name, it is still an anonymous comment. There is no email or blog attached; there is no way to respond directly. There is no maliciousness in what she said… in fact, she sounds absolutely frustrated, dismayed and let down. I am sure that she doesn’t like being led down the garden path. What she is holding onto is valid: A very evil man has been taken out. She also claims that we are not hearing the whole story and there are a number of positive aspects to our taking out this dictator. Perhaps, but let’s start with her first point.

Briefly, we are not the world’s police force. Congress never would have authorized military force just to save the people of Iraq from Hussein. Bush, et al had to have more and he/they knew it. They either grossly misinterpreted the intelligence (for those inclined to be generous) or fabricated it (for those who are not). Furthermore, before Iraq invaded Kuwait, we didn’t have any problem with his atrocities - nobody cared. If taking out “bad” people is the criteria, we should look to our own history and give someone else the job. Can you say Pinochet?

As far as not getting the whole story, there is an element of truth in that statement, however, it’s a two-edged sword. We also don’t get all the information on the violence, the bloodshed, and a great many other “details” that we don’t "need to know." How many coffins have you seen taken off the transports at Dover AFB? Our government doesn’t want us to see them - access denied! Furthermore, we can’t get reports of schools and other social good because if reporters venture outside the Green Zone without serious armament, they get killed. Or kidnapped, tortured… and then killed.

Finally Becca, you say, “If nothing else, one of the most evil men on the planet is gone.” To which I ask, at what cost? How many good men have to die? How many innocent civilians have to be blown up. True, Hussein was bad, but is it better now? You seem like a sensitive, thinking and caring person - it is not my wish or desire to make you feel uncomfortable. However, if you are taking comfort in your statement, I am duty bound to challenge that comfort.


Ellen said...

Unfortunately there are many evil people masking under the disguise of leaders/ dictators in the world, and I believe that becoming the world's police is not a position we can assume just because we see them that way.

In the case of Saddam (and his sons), yes, the world might appear a little safer.... but isn't that a right reserved for the people of Iraq, and not the WHOLE world? Since the people of that country are oppressed, I think they hardly know the difference, and only see our presence there as fodder for more violence..... after all, they see us as the enemy, and we are defined as such through their media.

Then, take the case of North Korea's dictator. Should we take him out because he also treats his people unfairly in our eyes. How about Haiti, most of Africa, and countless other countries. Where do we draw the line on bad leaders, and what we should do with them? It was not our job to cast judgement in Iraq, yet we plowed ahead under the guise and lies from our own government. Let's face it.... when we first ventured into this Iraq War business, it was under the thought that they had WMD. When none were found, and it was proved that Saddam was nothing but a big mouth and a bad tease, the strategy from our government changed to one of: well, he's a bad man, and we need to take him out so the people of Iraq can have democracy and freedom. Hmmmmmm...... how's that working for them now?

I'm not so disillusioned to think that Saddam's fall would automatically change the country overnight.... indeed, it will take a least a generation or two, if at all. What we have to remember is that the US involvement is only a small part of their history. The hate for Christians and Jews (or anything non-Muslim) is as deep rooted as an oak tree. Try chopping one of those baby's down, and you will see that it takes a lot more than an ax.

I have a good friend who I discuss politics with from time to time, and she can't see why we just don't back our President, and let the chips land in the Republican hands. After all, if we don't keep on top of those pesky terrorists, they will colonize in peaceful countries, and sights as 9/11 will become commonplace around the world. I can see her point, to a small degree (very small)..... and asked her the difference between what we are doing and what the "evil-doers" are doing. How can we justify our actions to a country (to the world, for that matter) when we are guilty of some of the very same things. No, we don't practice genocide here anymore, but our government does steep it's teabags in many lies in the name of liberty and freedom when we practice the art of democracy for countries we think need enlightenment.

No, I don't have the answer either. I think sometimes that this is a puzzle missing many "peaces"... and can only hope that the collective heads of state can work out a solution for the world through diplomacy and common sense. I'm not holding my breath with our current administration, though. It's sad to think that we live on such a thin line of good and evil.

Ok.... after months of saying nothing, I produce a long rant here.... my apologies, Mike.

Anonymous said...

Mike, I've held my thoughts on these posts the best I can. To speak on it kindly, we don't agree. And actually, it's this, "After all, if we don't keep on top of those pesky terrorists, they will colonize in peaceful countries, and sights as 9/11 will become commonplace around the world. I can see her point, to a small degree (very small)", that Ellen said, that has me piping up.

since you're working toward answering some of the questions where you're able to, perhaps you could find one for these: What does it take to make people think in long-term, broad, real worldly ways? Why do so many Americans present themselves to be so narrow- and short-minded? And finally, what ever happened to "We Will Never Forget?" It's my opinion that too many Americans don't give a ...well...a crap what they present themselves as, which comes out too often being pushed-over mice on their backs, begging to be liked - and being "liked" or "approved of" by the masses (or collectives) has very little history of overall success when push comes to shove.

...just sayin'. I'll be quiet again now.

kenju said...

Mike, thanks again for the thinking blogger award; I've just now posted my list and linked to you.

I put the award in my sidebar, but I don't know how to make it into an active link for the origin of the awards.

Ellen said...

I cannot, and will not suggest that we should just roll over on our backs, begging to be liked by the world. We have exery right as a nation to defend our way of life, but no justification to infringe those rights on other countries, especially when the reasons are nefarious. Iraq had no ties to our 9/11, yet our current administration crawled under every crevice to find one. When none surfaced, they lied to make it more pleasable to our populace so that we would buy into the idea of invading Iraq. Our battlecry of "we will never forget" turned into one of "if you are not for us, then you are against us". Them's fighting words for a country that had a bad leader with a big mouth, and us with a chugging penchant for the oil reserves in their ground.

Let's face it, Saddam was a bad man... his sons worse. Am I sorry he was caught, tried, and eliminated from this earth? No. People like that will suffer their karmatic desserts one way or another. But where do we draw the line on taking out the "bad guys"?... and there are plenty of them running countries now.

If we are at the stage of push come to shove, would it make our case any better by bombing the crap out of these countries so that they no longer exist at all? Who becomes the bad guy then? We do. So how can we as a nation profess ourselves to be a peace-loving people when our country is practicing the same tactics as the terrorists? How can we justify that we are better?

What does it take to make people think in long-term, broad and real worldly ways? Not being lied to.

Why do people present themselves to be so narrow and short-minded? They believe wholeheartedly in corrupt and inadequate leaders, who have personal agendas more important than the welfare of the populace that elected them.

What ever happened to "we will never forget"? Nothing. It's a fact of life we will live with the rest of our lives. But how many more lives have to be lost in the process of defending this battlecry?

Don't get me wrong... if this country was being attacked on an hourly basis, I would be the first to raise a gun in defense.... and I don't even like guns. In all, that is a situation of a different circumstance. The point is, we are not the worlds police, and cannot just go around picking fights just because we got caught with our pants down on 9/11. If we wanted to have prevented 9/11 from happening, we would have closed our borders long ago to make sure our country was defended to the degree of not having terrorists here in the first place.... and certainly not trained them to fly our planes. Let's face it, when a person pays an instructor to learn only how to fly, not land.... a big red flag was firmly planted in the ground. We had the intelligence in place, but never used this to thwart the saddest day of our history. The ball got dropped in our wanting to be so open to the oppressed, and while we were sleeping, the terrorists slipped in their own version of a trojan horse.

But the time for that has passed, and we are left in a quagmire of pointing fingers and blaming Gods over differences of theology. This is where the lines get blurred between right and wrong, good and bad, life and death. And far too many innocent people pay the price for an idea that breeds hate.

Anonymous said...

What a mistake. Sorry, Mike. I'll keep my response here to Ellen short and sweet as I can, knowing this isn't my territory, but yours. Of course, I understand your right to delete this comment and would fully understand if you do. With all due respect, Mike...

You actually suggest wishing America, perhaps not necessarily Americans, (though the difference is non-existent to me), had a more pleasing image in the eyes of our fellow world nations. Don't remember? "I think they hardly know the difference, and only see our presence there as fodder for more violence..... after all, they see us as the enemy, and we are defined as such through their media." Did I misinterpret that? As for "their media," for it is what it is, we'll get to that later.
Oh, you said this, too: "How can we justify our actions to a country (to the world, for that matter) when we are guilty of some of the very same things." History will reveal to you that every country in the world (perhaps save Holland) has some guilt in its past - some hypocrisy, or some, more leniently, two contradicting behaviours spaced decades apart in which the first was horrendous and the second proved they'd learned something from it. I suggest you do some mild research if you don't believe me. But, I suppose I'm misreading you there as well. Moving on then, shall we?
Oh, wait. You said something else, three things then total in your second comment here: " can we as a nation profess ourselves to be a peace-loving people when our country is practicing the same tactics as the terrorists?" I'd answer this with the same history lesson, but then you suggest that America is "playing terrorist" with other nations. What gives you that impression? Did I miss something? When did we go, unannounced, into some other country minus provocation and literally murder thousands of innocent civillians? That's high crime and I'm sure it would've made CNN. (Even with Vietnam, we had a decades-old vested interest when we went in there.) As for professing ourselves to be peace-loving, I'd ask how America pulls that off when we can't get through a single day, in any state, without one American killing another for drugs, sex, money, jealousy, etc. Hundreds of Americans give up their freedoms daily by killing their neighbors, yet the multi-millions of the rest of us go on not taking our freedoms for granted and wishing like mad that there was some easy answer to end the violence among our own broods.

Okay, now moving on, trying really hard to keep things short. Aw, bummer, there's more. "How can we justify that we are better?" (That makes it four now.) Why should we? Are we? Sure we are - we know better than to bombard a civilization as something to do because we're bored, have too much time on our hands and too much money to play with. Oh right - we don't have time to get bored, don't have time on our hands at all, and - who in America, that either of us know personally and hit Denny's with at three-am - do we consider as having too much money to play with? Um, I give up.

Can't go on yet either - "If we are at the stage of push come to shove, would it make our case any better..." -What case? This isn't so "dignified" as a court proceeding, it's war. And what's with the "If?" Push is still at shove, did you forget? Those responsible for the lives lost are still at large and until they have been dragged to their knees or shot to the ground, the pushing and shoving are not calmed. They pushed. We shove. We keep shoving until they cannot push. Ever. Again. Our lives depend on it. Yours and mine. Somehow that seems lost on so many Americans...perhaps they see things your way?

I think we're through with that part. Mike, with continuing respect, I'll wait for your OK to plow through anymore. But I did promise getting back to "their media" and I will, briefly. Ellen, you also spit this out: "...we are left in a quagmire of pointing fingers and blaming Gods over differences of theology." You spoke of "their media" at the start and again here at the end. Didn't realize it? The media in certain parts of the world have attempted to pull off framing America in a light that shows us as the nation with which to hold a war for religious reasons. What a shame it worked on an American. None of the war actions by America in the past six years has had anything to do with religion. (Make that the past ...oh, I'm not a math genius but I'll venture 232 years, since 1776, when the King of England was shoving it down our throats.) If it is believed otherwise by any American, based on any reason, I think the definitive word then is "treachery."

Anonymous said...


From my own viewpoint, I would have to say that the US was justified in going into Iraq and further justified in hanging in there for so long in support of enabling a peaceful Iraqian government.

What does the Arabic word 'jihad' mean? jihad is defined as a "holy war." Or, more precisely: It means the legal, compulsory, communal effort to expand the territories ruled by Muslims at the expense of territories ruled by non-Muslims.

The purpose of jihad, in other words, is not directly to spread the Islamic faith but to unabashedly extend sovereign Muslim power, with the eventual goal of achieving Muslim dominion over the entire globe.

In effect, the US has taken an active and purposeful part in the beginnings of a religious war which has had and will continue to have long reaching effects.

I don't have an answer as to how it will continue to pan out but I give props to the coalition of countries (of which the US is a big part of) for banding together against this type of abomination.


Michael K. Althouse said...

Ellen, Veda, Enid and everyone else who wishes to participate in this debate: Please do so. As long as it doesn't degenerate into ad hominen attacks, I won't moderate. It is safe to say that those who express their opinion here are equally passionate about this country. If you weren't, you wouldn't bother leaving your comments here.

More own take is that this debate should have occurred before the first shots were fired, not now. The main stream media, congress and the executive bear the responsibility for not considering all the ramifications before committing militarily.

The evidence is clear now that there were no WMD and no al qaeda link to Iraq or Hussein. There is also ample evidence that if Bush didn't know, he should have. The intelligence was there. Furthermore, if the press had not gone along so blindly with what the administration was selling, congress might have been more thorough about whether military action in Iraq was the best course.

Iraq was not a treat to the U.S.

Hussein was a terrible, brutal and lethal dictator.

There are a host of other brutal and lethal dictators. Are we to dispose of them all?

I understand the emotion behind 9/11. Military action in Afghanistan was appropriate and justified - that's where Bin Laden was/is. Iraq was a completely different issue and I'm afraid that the administration knew it. Bush and Cheney's reasoning was based in the belief that democracy would naturally spread from Iraq to the rest of the Middle East if given a chance. This is naive and someone should have said so.

I have the utmost respect for all three of you and anyone else who wishes to engage in this debate without resorting to personal attacks. There is enough of that in Washington DC.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Mike.

Snaggle Tooth said...

I don't agree with the (Becca) view that if the US war involvement were suddenly halted, then lives lost would be for or mean nothing! Reasons and purpose were indeed mis-used and misguided, and acts can't be undone-

What hits my head after reading the past two posts is:
How many deaths of his countrymen was Hussien responsible for? (Death sentence for 150 deaths) Now how many of both people's demise is GW Bush responsible for? (thousands?) Proper UN channels to deal with Iraq were ignored along with alternate ideas besides invasion- due to the Patriot Act post 911. Neither leader would admit to being at fault for the (aka proxy) deaths...

But blame doesn't help find the workable solution, it only distracts from time we have to reach one before more people are lost to chaos.

What's more important- What may work:
Iraq needs governing sectors, (or states), for each faction (Shiites, Suni, Kurd) for representation, policing their own people to gain respect from them, all to work together as an over-all ruling body (not one over the other as majority-minority), to pull together the security forces of their own country to restore order- which would be success.
Motovation for bombings needs to be removed. Outside forces are merely providing good targets for the brain-washed.

The politcally brain-washed in the US need an education in "what works and doesn't" - Bush's solution is unworkable without the funds.
Iraq's isin't workable without educating it's own effective security forces and getting factions working together in order to gain the support of it's citizens. Funds are needed regardless of the plan! Education and security are needed there.

Attaching items to funding bills so they will not pass is delaying progress and any possibility of solution, (some think with-drawal is failure-). Stale-mate between Prez and the Congress won't work. It delays.

Can we afford to even wait until January? The price is very steep-

Bobkat said...

I have read this discussion with great interest. However, please don't forget that this is not just an American matter. The UK went to war with America (as did other nations) based on the premise that Iraq had WMD. I am not sure how much Blair knew and that is irrelvant now. My point is not to lay blame. Mike, I happen to agree with you on this.

CyberKitten said...

Kick 'ass post Mike.

You're right to say that the USA is not the world’s police force. Apart from the fact that its an impossible job is the fact that no one asked you (the US) to do it.

Sure Saddam is gone & I don't think many people miss him... but as you rightly said: At what cost? Not only in money & human lives but also in human misery. Are things better now without Saddam on the scene? It appears not. There is indeed one less vile dictator in the world but how many are left? Hundreds probably... and some of them have been or are being supported by US Foreign policy.

If the US is in the business of 'taking out' bad leaders I'd get used to generations of warfare and that some of the wars won't go quite 'as well' as the one in Iraq is right now.

Anonymous said...

Mike, ("...if the press had not gone along so blindly with what the administration was selling, congress might have been more thorough...") Are you saying that the American Congress buys what the press sells? You're not, are you? If you were, that would suggest that the media has absolute control of our government - not our President, not our Congress and not our Senate. Why bother with a government at all then? Why not just put Barbara Walters in the hot seat and follow every little suggestion she has to offer? Maybe this is the core reason for the recent-years' media wars? They all want to run the nation?

Enid, you say this ("In effect, the US has taken an active and purposeful part in the beginnings of a religious war") like America went into another war with no other reason than religion. When in fact, the reason we started warring at all was paybacks, (they're a b*tch, you know.) Not so much in Iraq, I'll grant that, but that's not what you're suggesting either, is it? You don't honestly believe that we went into Iraq over religious differences? Matter of fact, I think I already said something about the last war America fought that had any inclinination toward religion, and what'd I guess it at? Somewhere around 232 years ago, I think.

There's so much more, but I've got responsibilites that are not online. :) Honestly, too much of these comments read to me like bumber stickers and I just don't have it in me to go through them all. Mike, I appreciate the forum, will keep reading, but I don't think I'll be commenting on this one anymore. Plus, my own place has a new post due and I've not yet addressed that either. Happy Tuesday, everyone.

Anonymous said...

I'm a registered Rep sitting squarely on the fence. Not that I'd probably ever move over to the left, but I have a lot of problems with what the administration is doing. But I don't have the same problems as many who stand in opposition of the administration have. I won't list my concerns here, because we all know how "you" versus "we" see things.

I try to steer clear of political commentary for the most part because I just get tired of arguing. But one thing that one commenter said, and others agreed with, is that we are not the world's police force. What bothers me about this comment is that we aren't, and we shouldn't be, but we certainly are EXPECTED to be. And as long as it's a cause that everyone feels strongly about (Darfur, Somalia, Iran), it's okay. And that's hardly fair.

Unknown said...

IF,small but powerful word that IF, the American efforts in Iraq had been successful. Let's say there was not much violence after the war the new govt had taken over and started making a positive difference. Would we have had a different view today on the intervention. Does the end justify the means?

Lee Ann said...

I normally do not comment on posts written about war, politics or religion, but I have to say that the things you said are so much of what I have been thinking.
People do not like to be wrong. They do not like to admit they have made a mistake and will go to great lengths to keep from admitting that.
Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and admit.
In this political reign, I have seen more people question their political preference. It used to be people were a party, (mostly Republican or Democrat). Their voting habits were to vote a straight ticket.
This administration has changed that for so many people I know.
I would have to say at this point, I do not affiliate myself with a party, whereas I used to.
Many many people have become disenchanted over the past couple of years, when in the beginning were gung ho.
But, then you have those that refuse to become disenchanted because they don't want to admit they were wrong.
Excellent post Mike.

CyberKitten said...

Wordnerd said: But one thing that one commenter said, and others agreed with, is that we are not the world's police force. What bothers me about this comment is that we aren't, and we shouldn't be, but we certainly are EXPECTED to be.

By who exactly? I can understand how, once military action has been agreed on, that the USA provide the majority of any force involved - this is simply because the US military is the largest such in the world by a *long* way. This doesn't mean that anyone expects you to 'sort out' the worlds problems by bombing people.

sj asked: Does the end justify the means?


kenju said...

I generally steer clear of any political discussion, because I really don't have enough knowledge to participate intelligently. I was a Rep. for the first 30 yrs of my life (probably because my parents were) and I am now a reg. Independent. I have never voted a straight ticket; choosing the man, not the party. But I will say this; My instincts told me years ago that Saddam Hussein did have WMD. The problem is we waited too late to go in and that allowed him time to move them (to points unknown). History shows us that former presidents knew about (had intelligence about) the weapons build-up. They did nothing. Bush just waited too late. He should never have gone into Iraq and I hope he stays out of Iran. What I really hope is that he fades into oblivion and I never have to hear or see or think about him again.

carmilevy said...

Good journalists use research and intelligence to lay out the facts and provoke thought and discussion. You've done just that here, and the progression in your comments section illustrates that in spades.

Nicely done, writer man.


kenju said...

Michele sent me back, Michael, and I see your discussion has evoked response. Good for you - that's what we all need.

Anonymous said...

Big government used to be the Democrat's territory, but the Republicans have created the biggest government ever.

And why my fellow conservatives still stick up for Bush II, I don't know.

Anonymous said...

Within the Bush/Cheney et al inner circle the acronym WMD actually stands for "Words of Mass Deception"