Minutiae
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"Chuck Norris doesn't read books; he stares them down until he gets the information he wants out of them."
- ChuckNorrisFactsdotcom

Monday, March 08, 2004
Well,
this excellent post has a quick overview of some very concerning issues.
"Well, here's an odd outgrowth of an eight month general election. Or, an odd outgrowth of John Kerry's campaign. John Kerry says he is in touch with foreign leaders who cannot say it publicly but who want him to defeat President Bush in November. Nice strategy: they can't say it out loud, so Kerry can't identify them, so we have no way of knowing who, exactly, felt it appropriate to weigh in on our national election.

But I am stunned by how utterly inappropriate this is. How is the Bush administration supposed to answer this -- how are we to evaluate this? Perhaps these are leaders with legitimate grips who wish to work more closely, in a more mulitlateral way with us. That's certainly the planned implication. And maybe they are leaders who have taken positions that flat contradict our own, suddenly found themselves dealing with a President who couldn't be rolled, and are now trying to flatter this guy. If Kerry loses, they're no worse off. If Kerry wins, they're in a much better negotiating position. They've flattered him, and left him with the impression that his ability to paint himself as the preferred candidate of our negotiating partners may even have helped get him elected.

Except how the hell do we even know we're talking about leaders we want a president getting along with, or getting along better with . . . or feeling even slightly beholden to? When did it become even slightly appropriate for foreign leaders to express an opinion on an American election? Why should we believe they aren't evaluating the outcome from within the perspective of their interests -- and without knowing who they are we of course have no way of determining how well their and our interests intersect.

And at what point did it become appropriate for a candidate for office to have contact with foreign leaders? Doesn't Kerry realize the damage that can do? If he leads any foreign leader to believe that he'd be more sympathetic to their arguments and interests -- which clearly he's done -- how isn't that a signal to those countries to hold off any dealings with this administration in the hopes it will soon be sent packing and they'll be able to do better? And if that's the case, then why isn't Kerry now interfering with American foreign policy in a way that could potentially benefit him (by reducing the level of success this administration can chalk up between now and the elections since at least some leaders will be stonewalling hoping for a better deal)? No doubt some of that kind of stonewalling is likely with other governments during any election season -- should Kerry be explicitly encouraging it?

Shouldn't he be roundly denounced for this by everyone, no matter who they're supporting in the election? Wouldn't Democrats want to pull him up short on the grounds that this could be made to make him look so bad that it could backfire?

How is this approriate behavior?"
This is awful beyond words. As one commenter correctly points out, it's also very likely illegal.
"This could rightly be called a specific violation of US law. Much like a former Secretary of State traveling abroad and making statements in direct opposition to current US policy towards that country in a time of war. This is not merely the abrogation of state authority in such matters, as the legislation was crafted to restrain. It is a deliberate effort by an opposition party, currently out of power by any executive or parliamentary definition, to create and maintain an alternative foreign policy more palatable to their specific interests than those of the democratically elected government which they purport to still be a part of. And in so consorting with foreign interests, a mixed message is not only sent in the circles of international diplomacy, but among those searching for ways to blunt the instruments of US national power. [emphasis mine]

What interests me as much as the statements themselves is that given the level of campaign contributions via newly development internet mechanisms, these "foreign leaders" or others may find ways to bring illegal cash to bear in support of these expressed desires.

If this is not a matter that could be investigated from a criminal enforcement purpose, due to political considerations, it ought to be investigated for a *non-partisan* media purpose. I will not wager odds on the likelihood of such reporting, however.
Now, John and Jane Q Public aren't really expected to know these things. On the other hand, I expect someone who currently sits as a US Senator and aspires to the highest office to damn well know better, or at least to think through the practical consequences of his actions. I suppose it's possible he's decided the rules are off since the republicans control the government and he can ascribe anything they do or say as partisan sniping. Whatever the motivation or excuse, this man is not fit for the office.

posted by Rachel 3/08/2004
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In many different fields of study there are common "light bulb" moments when all becomes clear. Calculating where a projectile will land, operant conditioning, the endocrine system, geometry... These all seem to share that AHA moment. So does the concept of cognitive dissonance. It explains so much about human behavior.

[Basic example: I smoke. Smoking causes cancer. I must find a way to relieve the dissonance caused by these two facts. I will likely employ a
defense mechanism to alleviate the discomfort.]

Lee Harris has written an article highlighting one area of cognitive dissonance in the modern political arena.
"The answer to this question should be an easy one. Yes, we do have many more urgent things to worry about; and by far the most urgent is what to do about 9/11.
 
Here I am not talking about what to do about future 9/11's -- catastrophic terror that may or may not happen in our near or our distant future -- I am referring back to the 9/11 that occurred on a beautiful morning over two and a half years ago. And our most urgent question today is: What should we as a nation do with our collective memory from that day?
 
Increasingly the answer that is being given to this question by liberal Democrats is simple, Repress it. Push it out of our mind. Pretend that it never happened; or if you absolutely must refer to 9/11, pretend it was something along the lines of an earthquake or a freakish tidal wave -- a natural disaster without the slightest political implications. A tragedy, of course, but something we should all put behind us and move on.
 
That is why the Democrats and the liberal media became apoplectic at the images of 9/11 that appeared in the Bush campaign ad. It was not Bush's use of the images that was so disturbing to them, but the images themselves. Democrats and liberals do not want to be reminded of 9/11; nor do they wish their country to be reminded of it either. Not because it is perceived as a campaign theme of the opposite party, but because 9/11, if rightly understood, requires a complete rethinking of their own warm and fuzzy vision of multilateral harmony in a conflict free world.
           
The memory of 9/11 must be repressed because otherwise liberals would have to come to terms with the concept of The Enemy. They would have to face the grim and disturbing truth that there are people out there who relish the thought of pointlessly killing thousands of our fellow citizens, simply because they are our fellow citizens -- not for a political objective, or to achieve a military goal, but just because they see us as their enemy.
 
A friend of mine recently said that he did not like the concept of the enemy and that, as far as he was concerned, all men were his brothers. But what if the man whom you wish to regard as your brother does not return your fraternal feelings of affection; what if he regards your offer as an insult to his honor? "You dare to call yourself my brother, you dog?" In which case, what do you do then? Do you respect his feelings, and accept him as your enemy? Or do you treat him as an inferior being and wave aside his protestations as if he were a four year old child -- "Now, now, Bobby, you don't really mean to say those bad things about mommy."
           
To insist that your enemy is not your enemy when he insists on being one is to rob him of his humanity, and to endanger your own existence -- and all for the sake of preserving an unsustainable illusion. To recognize an enemy, and to treat him as one, is not to dehumanize him -- on the contrary, it is to treat him as your equal. It is to take him seriously. It is to meet him on his own terms.
[emphasis mine]
           
But that is just what liberal Democrats cannot bring themselves to do. They insist on pretending that 9/11 was just a kind of glitch, instead of seeing it as an act of devotion carried out by men who were motivated by the highest ethical purpose that they could comprehend.
           
This is the terrible truth revealed by 9/11. It was not an act of crazed loonies, unlikely to reoccur; it was the symbolic gesture of an entire culture -- a culture that looked upon those who died in carrying out their mission as heroic martyrs who triumphed over a vastly more powerful enemy. That is why so much of the Arab world celebrated the great victory accordingly, by dancing in the streets and cheering the collapse of the Twin Towers -- another set of images that liberals are forced to repress, since to acknowledge such behavior is to acknowledge the concept of the enemy that is embodied in such wild rejoicing at the annihilation of men and women whom you had never met.
 
It is almost as if we, as a nation, are entering into what psychologists call denial. Instead of making the necessary adjustments to reality in response to 9/11, we are engaged in a process of denying it, both by outright repression of all public memory of the event and by making it a subject of incomprehensibly stupid political controversy, dividing us as a people into warring factions over absolutely nothing -- and often it would seem for no better reason than to have something to bicker about on radio talk shows.
           
When I wrote my book, Civilization and Its Enemies, I said that we had not yet comprehended the significance of 9/11. Today we are not any closer to understanding it; and, indeed, as a nation we seem to be drifting farther and farther away from the true issues raised by it.
 
The Bush administration has announced that its campaign theme will be that we are in Iraq to keep other 9/11's from happening on our soil; but how could anyone who understood the first 9/11 possibly think such a thing? If the first 9/11 was brought to us by Arab nationals living in Hamburg, acting out a fantasy, how could the occupation of Iraq have prevented it then, and how could it prevent another such event in the future?
 
Here is a genuine issue for the Democrats to criticize. They could point to it and say, "This shows that the Bush administration does not really yet understand the nature of the beast that we are dealing with." And yet, instead of taking on this question, they insist on beating up the President for daring to remind the American people that 9/11 ever occurred.
 
The Bush campaign can be justly rebuked for trying to argue that anything we can do in Iraq will prevent another 9/11, because of all people they should know better. But what rebuke is appropriate for those who wish to pretend that 9/11 never happened at all?"

posted by Rachel 3/08/2004
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