Mixing It Up With The Flying Monkeys

In response to yesterday’s post, I got some questions about the ultimate value of message board activism. The best way to answer those questions is to just show you how the weekend’s debate over at “Blogs For Bush” went. When you see it, you’ll understand.

You will recall the “magic question” I have proposed when neocons start braying about “victory.” That question is simply, “do you want victory bad enough to pay for it?” Here is how the debate went in this particular example from “Blogs For Bush.”

What we need from the Democrats, seeing as they can’t stop the war, is for them to either keep silent on it, or admit that victory is preferrable to defeat and get on the side of our troops as they battle our cruel and desperate enemies.

First of all, that wasn’t the whole post. I don’t even remember what the rest of the post was about. Because I don’t really care. I zero in on the part I’m interested in, and ignore the rest.

Let’s understand what this is. This is an “applause line.” It’s purpose is to cause all of the flying monkeys reading this post to say, “damn right!” Every politician understands the value of this kind of rhetoric. It is designed to motivate the troops, even as it wins the occasional nod from the fence sitters. In an actual debate, with an audience in the room, this is a line that motivates your opponents supporters and sways the people in the middle. In the context of the national discussion, this is the line that gives the opposition the initiative, when their talking heads repeat it on teevee. It is the line the Democrat opposing them has to answer. It is the line that Chris Matthews amplifies when he turns to the Democrat and says, “yeah what that. Do you guys want victory?” In other words, you have to pull the teeth on it.

Everytime they say “damn right,” in response to something, they become a little more motivated, the believe a little more fervently in their position, and they become a little more resolute in the face of things like losing recent elections. Listen up. The last election isn’t the last election we’re ever going to have. As soon as the last election is over — and it’s over, folks — it’s time to start thinking about the next election. Every applause line they use, every piece of effective rhetoric in their arsenal, is one more motivator to get them pumped for the next election.

That’s why I’m on this particular venue. That’s why I go right onto their turf to take their applause line away from them. That’s why I want to see 10,000 message board activists in every reasonably sized venue in America, making sure that they fight for every “damn right” they get. Taking their applause lines away from them demoralizes them. Taking their applause lines away from them, makes it a little safer for fence sitters to support us.

So here is my opening move.

So you want “victory” do you? Guess what. I don’t think you really do. Here’s a simple test.

So far, this “war” — such as it is — has not cost an American taxpayer a single red cent. We have actually cut taxes since the start of the “war,” and borrowed all of the money to prosecute it. A substantial portion of that money was borrowed from the Chinese communist government. We have also seen none of the scrap metal or rubber drives, none of the rationing, and none of the “buy bonds” campaigns of WWII.

So here’s the test. Since you claim to want “victory,” what are you willing to sacrifice for it. We already know you’re not in uniform. Are you willing to support even a partial repeal of the Bush tax cuts to finance the war? What else are willing to sacrifice — you, not somebody else — for the “victory” you say you want?

How about it Mark. Do you want victory bad enough to pay for it?

Now, I’ve packed a lot of digs into that post. The words “war” and “victory” are always in quotes. The quotes mean “bullshit.” But I don’t say “bullshit.” This is a subtle point many amateurs don’t get. There are some things you shouldn’t say out loud. You have to point to them, without overtly saying what your language points to. If you are trying a case, and the credibility of a police officer comes into question, you don’t say, “that officer is a dirty lying son of a bitch.” If you do, you will lose the jury. Here’s why. Somebody on that jury believes police officers as a matter of policy. Their notion of truth is entirely political. Things are true or false depending on who says them — because “we have to support the police.” Saying “the policeman is a liar” does nothing but rile those people up — making it difficult for the more level headed jurors to consider the possibility. If on the other hand you suggest it — without saying it, and providing deniability — you give your own supporters room to hold that position. What you actually want to do — and conservatives do this all the time — is give your supporters the “out” that need. “Now I’m not saying that policemen is a liar. Perhaps he was simply mistaken.” In the jury room that plays as follows. “He called the officer a liar.” “No he didn’t. He said maybe the officer was mistaken.”

Moving along, I tie the Bush tax cuts to the “war,” and use that wonderful word in the context of war, namely, “sacrifice.” But wait, with a simple phrase I can make the need to end those deficits financing the war even more urgent. We’re borrowing the money from the “Chinese communists.” You know how much rightwingers hate “communists.” Why WE’RE all communists, as far as they’re concerned. Pointing to their typical rank hypocrisy in cutting a check for tens of millions of dollars in interest payments to the “communists” running the Chinese government, is a little extra flourish to add to their discomfort dealing with this question.

If they’re smart — and some them are — they will ignore you. As time goes by, they will learn this simple defense tactic — which is why you need numbers of people to amplify the post, and eventually force a response. But not today. On this occasion, someone just couldn’t stand it.

More tired DNC talking points? Can’t any of the left ever be original?

By this tac, my interpretation is that conceptual guerrella desires defeat, since they too seem to not be in the Military.

Just more proof that Victory has been removed from the left’s lexicon.

This is standard issue rightwing “dismissiveness.” He can’t actually ignore the question, so he posts an answer that pretends to ignore it. But he didn’t ignore it, did he. [And on the "DNC talking point" line, I wish this were a DNC talking point.]

Oh contraire, Lew. [Probably should have been, "au contraire," but what the hell.] I want victory just exactly as badly as you do. Which means I want cheap victory, that doesn’t cost me anything. Unlike you, I’m not willing to have someone else pay a price for victory I’m unwilling to pay myself.

And you aren’t willing to pay any price for “victory,” Lew. If you were you would have said so. But here’s your chance to correct the record.

Just tell me now what price you are willing to pay — you, and not somebody else — for “victory.” No answer to the question means “nothing.”

That line, “I want cheap victory . . .” I only use in this particular venue. Because there is nobody in it but committed partisans. So I can afford to swagger a little bit, the better to taunt them. In a more public forum, I would not say that. I would probably obscure the issue with something like, “I’m not sure what ‘victory’ means in this context. But assuming we even know that, I’m not willing to have someone else pay for it.” I end the post by repeating the question. That is the heart of the tactic. I know I have a question they don’t want to answer. I’m here to make them answer it — or to fail to get an answer often enough that everyone knows I’ve got them on the mat.

Conceptual G.- alcohol, cough medicine, and writing are a bad mix. Your post is incoherent.

Now, since the subject of the string is liberal ignorance, I’m afraid in your case we have to add stupid.

How does that sequence go? “First they ignore you.” They tried that. “Then they laugh at you, then they attack you.” I believe this responder has tried to get a “twofer” with that post. I’m not the least bit pissed off about that. In fact, I’m glad to see it. They may be showing a brave front, but they’re squirming — and I’m in control.

Sorry about that Kahn, but insulting me proves nothing, except that I’ve got you on the ropes.

Answer the question. What price you are willing to pay — you, and not somebody else — for “victory.” Will you, for example, allow those tax cuts to expire, so that we can at least stop borrowing from the Chinese to finance “victory”?

Always come back to the original question — relentlessly. All of those nonanswers are designed to get you off your gameplan. They are designed to divert attention away from that lethal question they don’t want to answer. Ignore the red herrings, and bring them right back.

My sacrifice? Like the time I was a Marine? Or going to the funeral of a close frinds son (a Marine who died in Iraq)? Or saying good-bye as both my neice and nephew deployed to Iraq? Or all the care packages I’ve put together for them along with the ones I sent to several neighbors?

Here is a clue, calling YOU stupid may not be about ME. Maybe, you are just stupid. No insult intended, just an observation.

In case you missed it, conservative give far more to charity in money and time than do liberals. Conservatives serve our nation in the military. You guys are a bunch of freeloading selfish wackos. Rather than volunteering to help or do anything, you want to pass laws to make other people do things.

Paydirt! As we say in the south, I “got his goat.”

But wait, because his answer does finally have some substance to it — and some landmines if you aren’t careful. You will notice that he mentions a neighbor who was killed there — somebody else’s sacrifice. He mentions his niece and nephew — again, somebody else’s sacrifice. And he uses the word “sacrifice.” Here’s what he doesn’t say in reference to his own “sacrifice,” specifically his own service in the Marine Corps. He doesn’t tell us about the combat HE was in, or the buddy’s he saw die in combat. It is kind of a pregnant omission, suggesting that his “sacrifice” in the marine corps may have consisted in a peacetime gig driving some colonel around the base in a jeep. But I don’t know that. He could have been at Khe Sahn, and is one of those types who doesn’t like talking about it.

So I’m going to stay away from that. As it turns out, he has given me a “target of opportunity” with that line about how conservatives “serve our nation in the military,” whereas those dirty hippie liberals don’t. It just so happens that this claim is bullshit — and indeed there is a whole web page on the subject. Without losing sight of the original objective, I decide to do a “crazy Ivan” on him, and go after that “target of opportunity.”

So let’s just see who’s stupid, and who isn’t. Here is short list of “liberals” who served in the military — many of them with distinction.

* Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) – U.S. Army, 1951-1953. (1)
* Former Vice President Al Gore – enlisted August 1969; sent to Vietnam January 1971 as an army journalist, assigned to the 20th Engineer Brigade headquartered at Bien Hoa, an airbase twenty miles northeast of Saigon. More facts about Gore’s Service
* George McGovern, famous liberal, awarded Silver Star & DFC, dozens of missions during WWII.
* Former President Jimmy Carter, most recent recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, seven years in the Navy. “Except for his fellow service-academy graduate Dwight Eisenhower, no President of the twentieth century spent more years in uniform than Carter.” (New Yorker Magazine)
* Former Presidential Nominee Mike Dukakis – United States Army, 1955-’57 (1)
* Former Vice President Walter Mondale, U.S. Army 1951-1953
* Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) — rifle platoon and company commander with the Fifth Marine Regiment in the An Hoa Basin west of Danang; was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals, and two Purple Hearts. (1)
* Representative Jack Murtha (D-PA) – distinguished 37-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps, Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, retired from the Marine Corps Reserve as a colonel in 1990. (1)
* Former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt – Missouri Air National Guard, 1965-71. (1, 2)
* Representative David Bonior – Staff Sgt., United States Air Force 1968-72 (1, 2)
* Former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle – 1st Lt., U.S. Air Force SAC 1969-72 (1, 2)
* Former Senator Bob Kerrey… Democrat… Lt. j.g., U.S. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam (1, 2)
* Senator Daniel Inouye, US Army 1943-’47; Medal of Honor, World War Two (1, 2)
* Senator John Kerry, Lt., U.S. Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V, and three awards of the Purple Heart for his service in combat (1)
* Representative Charles Rangel, Staff Sgt., U.S. Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea (1, 2)
* Former Senator Max Cleland, Captain, U.S. Army 1965-68; Silver Star & Bronze Star, Vietnam (1, 2)
* Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) – U.S. Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91 (1)
* Former Senator Fritz Hollings (D-SC) – served as a U.S. Army officer in World War II, receiving the Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons. (1)
* Wesley Clark, Democratic Presidential Candidate – 38-year career of public service in the Army, culminating as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO.
* Chuck Robb, US Senator from Virginia, served in Vietnam
* Howell Heflin… Democrat… Silver Star
* Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) – Lt., U.S. Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74. (1, 2)
* Former Senator/Vice Presidential nominee Lloyd Bentsen – B-24 pilot in WWII 1942-’45, Squadron Commander; earned Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters. (1)
* Former Senator John Glenn, D-OH (1974-1999) – Served in WWII and Korea; extensive military commendations include the Distinguished Flying Cross on six occasions, and the Air Medal with 18 Clusters.
* Congressman Tom Lantos, D-CA – Did not serve in the US military; did serve in the Hungarian anti-Nazi underground in WWII. Saved by Raoul Wallenberg, is the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress.
* James Carville, a.k.a. “Corporal Cueball” – Served in the United States Marine Corps, 1966-’68. (1)
* Markos Moulitsas, a.k.a. “Kos” (leading liberal blogger) – Served in the United States Army, 1989-’92. (1)

Here’s a list of prominent conservatives — just about everybody who’s anybody on the right.

* Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY – did not serve (1)
* Senate Assistant Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-MI – avoided the draft, did not serve.
* Senate Republican Conference Chairman Jon Kyl, R-AZ – did not serve.
* National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair John Ensign, R-NV – did not serve.
* House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-OH – did not serve.
* House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, R-MO – did not serve.
* House Republican Conerence Chair Adam Putnam, R-FL – did not serve.
* House Republican Policy Committee Thaddeus McCotter, R-MI – did not serve.
* National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Tom Cole, R-OK – did not serve.
* Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani – did not serve.
* Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney – did not serve in the military but did serve the Mormon Church on a 30-month mission to France.
* Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert – avoided the draft, did not serve.
* Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey – avoided the draft, did not serve.
* Former House Majority Leader Tom Delay – avoided the draft, did not serve (1). “So many minority youths had volunteered … that there was literally no room for patriotic folks like himself.”
* Former House Majority Whip Roy Blunt – did not serve
* Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist – did not serve. (An impressive medical resume, but not such a friend to cats in Boston.)
* Rick Santorum, R-PA, formerly third ranking Republican in the Senate – did not serve. (1)
* George Felix Allen, former Republican Senator from Virginia – a supporter of Nixon and the Vietnam war, did not serve. (1)
* VP Cheney – several deferments (1, 2), the last by marriage (in his own words, “had other priorities than military service”) Did not serve.
* Former Att’y Gen. John Ashcroft – did not serve (1, 2); received seven deferment to teach business ed at SW Missouri State
* Karl Rove – avoided the draft, did not serve (1), too busy being a Republican.
* Former Speaker Newt Gingrich – avoided the draft, did not serve (1, 2)
* George Will, did not serve
* Bill O’Reilly, did not serve
* Paul Gigot, did not serve.
* Bill Bennett, Did not serve
* Pat Buchanan, did not serve
* Rush Limbaugh, did not serve (4-F with a ‘pilonidal cyst’ [see "The Rush Limbaugh Story" by Paul D. Colford, St. Martin's Press, 1993, Chapter 2: Beating the Draft.])
* Michael Savage (aka Michael Alan Weiner) – did not serve, too busy chasing herbs and botany degrees in Hawaii and Fiji
* Bill Kristol, did not serve
* Sean Hannity, did not serve.
* Kenneth Starr, did not serve
* Ralph Reed, did not serve
* Michael Medved, did not serve

Here is the source for that list.

Can you say “SLAM DUNK?” Sure, I knew you could.

Oh, and since you served in the Marines once upon a time, and since you know people who went to Iraq — like I don’t — does that mean you think continuing to go into hock to the Chinese communists to finance the war is a good idea? Or do you agree with me that if we’re going to “stay the course,” we at least ought to pay for it — ourselves?

Well, it was just a little detour. I came back to the question — after scoring a few points at the expense of the chickenhawks, see list above.

Don’t bother looking for that post. The sons of bitches edited it — a sure sign I drew some blood. Here is what is there, now.

So let’s just see who’s stupid, and who isn’t. (Ed Note: rather tired of this – lets set the record straight:

Howard Dean, dodged the draft
Bill Clinton, dodged the draft
Dennis Kucinich, did not serve
Steny Hoyer, did not serve
James Clyburn, did not serve
Dick Durbin, did not serve
Bernie Sanders, did not serve

Want me to go on?)

Hmm. What to do. Ah but I’ve already told you what to do, I posted it again and . . .

(Ed. Note: it ain’t your blog

Alcee Hastings, did not serve
Henry Waxman, did not serve
Mel Watt, did not serve
Rahm Emanuel, did not serve
Ken Salazar, did not serve
Joe Biden, did not serve
Barak Obama, did not serve
Robert Menendez, did not serve
Paul Begala, did not serve
George Stephanopolous, did not serve
John Edwards, did not serve

Give it up – there are vastly more Democrats who didn’t serve.)

. . . the son of a bitch edited the post again. This isn’t the guy I was arguing with, by the way. The comments editor — maybe Noonan himself, for all I know — stepped in when he saw his boy getting the worst of it.

You can’t just leave at this point. If they want to put their thumb on the scale — “if you can’t win, cheat!” — I’m going to push him all the way, and shame the son of a bitch if I can do it.

You say there are “vastly more,” but you keep taking the lists down. Why is that? Is it because you know that if people see the actual lists of current Republican and Democratic leaders and their military records that they will see the huge list of prominent conservative chickenhawks and draw the appropriate conclusion?

You correct mine to add your list — instead of posting your list under mine, where people can see for themselves. Then you pretend like you’ve got the high ground. The truth is, you’re a coward who is afraid of a fair fight — typical for rightwing blowhards.

I have a blog, too, friend. And in almost four years I have NEVER edited a wingnut’s post. EVER. I’m not afraid to confront any facts or arguments you’ve got. You can’t say the same thing. You can edit this if you want, but you know who’s afraid of who. You know that your position can’t win in a fair fight.

Have nice day.

Hey Kahn, how does it feel to have to be protected by the board moderator? Edit that question, too, ed. You coward.

Oh yeah. I get right in his face — and dare him to chuck me out of there. Notice, not one instance of “adult language” has been uttered by me. There board rules are posted up front, and are quite clear on that. Adult language doesn’t offend me any, but it’s his house. I’m not about to give him a cheap excuse to ban me. And I didn’t. Oh, I swagger around with as much insufferable arrogance as I can muster, but I don’t cuss anyone, I don’t call any names, and I don’t impugn anybody’s integrity — except on the case of editing my posts.

Oh, and I have to take a swipe at “Kahn,” the guy I was talking to, suggesting that he needs to be “protected.”

Did they ban me? Did they edit that last question? Nope. They let it stand . . . and Kahn responded.

coneptual Guerilla – I didn’t see any protection. I’m not JUST talking about politicians. I’m talking about… you. I was a Marine. Mark was in the Navy. Where did YOU serve.

For the last twenty years the Democrat representation in the military has been well less than 20%. In the Army and Marines, it’s been less. And in the leadership ranks MUCH less.

You, as a group are shirkers. You complain, you whine, you demand protection – but you do NOT serve. Obviously SOME of you do. But the statistics show that yopu are under represented in the Armed Forces. Why? It’s not the draft – its all volunteer.

This lack of experience is even high in the politically active elements of your party. Hence, as a group you are ignorant. Hence, you choose ignorant leaders.

Have some of OUR leaders NOT served? Yes. But since as a group, we HAVE served – we can tell which ones know what they’re talking about and which ones don’t. You can’t.

We are talking about millions of people here, lists of a few dozen are irrelevent.

Ahhh. He doesn’t want to talk about the chickenhawks who didn’t serve. He wants to talk about ME? Notice the nifty little position he takes. Only people who have served in the military — because of all that highly sophisticated military strategy they teach while they’re teaching you how to drive a truck — are even qualified to have an opinion. He doesn’t say that military training in and of itself qualifies you, because that would disqualify all those chickenhawks. It’s the knowledge you get — which you can’t anywhere else.

This is bullshit, of course — particularly in the area of military strategy. Where do military officers get their training in military strategy, anyway? From actually fighting wars? They get it taking classes at places like the Naval War College, as taught by the second author of this book. You will notice in John Spanier’s bio that he has lectured at the Naval War College, among other places. He also lectured me, when I took his graduate seminar in 1982. Very few enlisted men — including Marines — get any such instruction.

But I don’t want to get into that. It’s a red herring. I’ve got a better idea. Don’t go against it, go with it. I’m not going to argue whether I’m a “shirker” or not. I am one. I confess. But I’m not alone . . .

Why Kahn, I believe we finally agree on a something. Yes indeed, we are a nation full of “shirkers.” And yes, Kahn, I’m one of them. Why I’ve been positively wallowing in cash since President Bush cut taxes in time of war. You know, you guys have been right. Those tax cuts didn’t primarily benefit the wealthy. They benefitted me — and millions of other ordinary Americans, who — as I said in my very first post in this thread — haven’t paid a red cent for this war.

And I think you’re right, Kahn. We need to do something about that. Every American needs to contribute something to our “victory” — instead of deferring payment for future generations, while we borrow money from foreigners to pay for it now.

That’s why I say we should repeal those Bush tax cuts — or at least defer them until the war is over. I think that all American “shirkers” should at the very least pay for this war, starting right now.

Are you with me, Kahn?

And we’re right back where we started — using his theme of “shirking” to reinforce my whole point to start with.

But wait, Kahn has one last gasp left in him.

Diverted that blow with the tax argument eh? You know – you can always pay more if you want to? You don’t have to stop at the required amount.

Yes, I can indeed, “pay more.” And so can he. The difference is that he believes in the war. The difference is that he claims to want victory. He wants ME to pay for it . . . or you . . . or your grandchildren. Anybody but him. As for repealing the tax cuts, he never did answer the question. Nobody over there ever did.

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