Sunday, October 22, 2006

Strawman, going straight to the devil

Straw Man, from wikipedia:

One can set up a straw man in the following ways:

  1. Present a misrepresentation of the opponent's position, refute it, and pretend that the opponent's actual position has been refuted.
From Rick at you know where (DCOW*):
Try as I might, I’m just not that shocked at the news that Ted Kennedy and other Democratic liberal Senators were willing to work with the Soviet Union in a joint PR campaign to undermine and defeat President Reagan at the polls in 1984.

Bryan at Hot Air has the skinny on what is either the most egregious violation of trust in the history of the United States Senate or the most calumnious lie ever told about – love him or hate him – one of the most dedicated public servants in American history:

Never mind the assertion in Paul Kengor's book that Rick goes on to describe. I have no proof either way. And while Kengor is a fairly well-known Reagon acolyte, as they said in Airplane, "...but that's not important right now."

What does matter is what Rick says later:
The point is, it is not beyond imagining Kennedy or any other liberal from that period taking part in such an effort to betray their trust. This is because one of the core tenets of modern liberalism is that ordinary morality that may apply to most of us can be set aside in the name of a higher goal. For Kennedy, his belief that he would be preventing nuclear war overrode any more mundane considerations like loyalty to the country or his President. This kind of action feeds the liberal’s heroic self image while also revealing the dirty little secret of the New Left; they consider ideals like patriotism and love of country subservient to their belief in the universality of man. And from the time of the Russian revolution until the fall of the Berlin Wall, they felt that spirit – despite all evidence to the contrary – was embodied in the old Soviet Union.

Wow. 2 straw men in one paragraph. Let's dissect:

I have searched high and low, and even found documents that purport to be Tenets Of Liberalism. Funny, but the only ones that make the statement about "higher goals & ends justifying the means" seem to be written by Right Wingers, as is this review of an anti-Clinton book:
What did strike me as new was her analysis of modern liberalism, which can help us all understand politics better. She has identified seven tenets of liberalism. Here are the first two and you can read the book for the next five:1. In modern liberalism, political goals justify any political means to achieve them. You can think of gender equality and affirmative action. Which leads to the "greater good theory", namely if any harm "occurs in the pursuit of those two goals, it's worth the suffering... for the greater good."

It would seem, with only casual observation, that whereas both sides of the political spectrum are fully capable of "ends justify means" thinking (see: Johnson, Lyndon B. & Gulf of Tonkin), the Right has both feet firmly planted in that camp. For example, John Dean's analysis of David Kuo's new book, "Tempting Faith":
David Kuo, the former deputy-director of the Bush White House's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, recently published a book, Tempting Faith. The book's most controversial claim is that members of the Bush administration have been privately trashing some of the very Religious Right leaders who helped put them in power.

For example, Kuo told "60 Minutes" that he had heard people in the White House political affairs office, Karl Rove's operation, refer to Pat Robertson as "insane," call Jerry Falwell "ridiculous," and say that James Dobson "had to be controlled."

Also look at some Lee Atwater's actions:
"Lee seemed to delight in making fun of a suicidal 16-year-old who was treated for depression with electroshock treatments," Turnipseed recalled. "In fact, my struggle with depression as a student was no secret. I had talked about it in a widely covered news conference as early as 1977, when I was in the South Carolina State Senate. Since then I have often shared with appropriate groups the full story of my recovery to responsible adulthood as a professional, political and civic leader, husband and father. Teenage depression and suicide are major problems in America, and I believe my life offers hope to young people who are suffering from a constant fear of the future."

But in perhaps the best example of "ends justify means" politics, we have Iran/Contra:
The Iran-Contra Affair (also called the Iran-Contra Matter and Iran-gate) was one of the largest political scandals in the United States during the 1980s. It involved several members of the Reagan Administration who in 1986 helped sell arms to Iran, an avowed enemy, and used the proceeds to fund the Contras, an anti-communist guerrilla organization in Nicaragua.

. . .

The affair connected two quite disparate matters; on the one hand was arms sales to Iran and on the other funding of Contra militants in Nicaragua. Direct funding had been made illegal through the Boland Amendment. The affair emerged when a Lebanese newspaper reported that the U.S. sold arms to Iran in exchange for the release of hostages by Hezbollah. Emails sent by Oliver North to John Poindexter support this. However, the then Israeli ambassador to the U.S. claims that the reason was to establish links with elements of the military in Iran. Moreover, the arms sales apparently were under way already by 1980. It should also be noted that Contra funding was not exclusively through the arms sales, but also through drug trafficking.

Now, in re: Rick's 2nd straw man, certainly the left has, especially in the early part of the 20th century, had a flirtation with Communism. It purported to offer support for workers (what a Lou Dobbsian concept today), and also promised some effort at egalitarianism.

But all but the most rabid supporters on the left realized by the middle of the 20th century that Communism, especially as established in the former Soviet Union, was cruel, unworkable, and hopelessly corrupt. And yet still today from such hacks as David Horowitz, and now Rick, the Red Menace is alleged to have been a favorite of lefties everywhere. All I can say is prove it, or shut up.

And while on the subject of throwing stones in glass houses, the Right has had a cozy relationship with despots all over the globe:


Shah of Iran

Saddam Hussein