Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Since I put up the post "IN DENIAL" the other day, I have had a number of emails asking me how one goes about dealing with people in denial. Here is a typical email on the subject:

Great post, but can you be a little more specific about who can relieve these people of their denial and how to do it? Shouldn't President Bush be doing more, and more often?

As I mentioned in the post, making people aware of what they are doing is actually the only way to deal with denial. By doing so, you make their denial a completely conscious action, instead of a partially conscious (or less) behavior. Then they face a clear-cut choice: either to continue to deny (but now it is conscious) or they can face reality and do what needs to be done.

In therapy, this can work because people are (hopefully) motivated to change--but not always. It is always very hard to give up a cherished belief for anyone. It rarely happens the first or second or twentieth time that they are confronted with the truth. But because there are long-term consequences of denial, it is worth the effort of trying to intervene.

In discussing and pointing out the facts over and over again; trying to make it as obvious as possible what the real situation is, there is a strong liklihood that those who are not motivated to change, will not alter their system of denial--until and unless those consequences come to pass. As an example, you can look around the blogsphere at all the people who were happily moving along in Leftist circles when 9/11 happened. This was a transforming event for many because for the first time they saw the concretization of their abstract principles. It forced them to rethink and reconsider some of the cherished positions they had held.

But it is important to remember, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. If 9/11 was not a big enough wake-up call, then one wonders what will shake some people out of their extreme denial about Islam and Islamofascism.

I think Bush et al have done a good job at confronting the reality of the threat; but there was always bound to be a certain amount of rage and hysteria by those who remain firmly in denial. Bush and his administration were certainly damned because they reacted in a healthy manner to the threat; but they would have been damned even more if they had done nothing. Let me say to the trolls who inhabit my comment section and who believe that I "worship" Bush, that they are mistaken.

Bush is only human. He and others in his administration and in the military have made mistakes. But what else does one expect in the real world? Nothing is perfect--either in human thought or human action. What matters is that we do what we need to do--and what is right-- and fight on, despite our mistakes. Our hope is that we will achieve a victory for our side before being taken down by the gods of remorse, recrimination and obsessive perfection.

With a MSM so clearly determined to undermine the war effort and turn it into a repeat of Vietnam, anything Bush, Cheney, Generals, etc. say has been distorted and trivialized. Every action they have taken has been met with fierce opposition, much of which is motivated by denial and its attendant psychological convoy--projection and paranoia (and the links are relatively mild examples--in the latter example, I am still waiting breathlessly for the dire predictions of an imminent "Bush theocracy" to be implemented). These latter defenses are almost always present when denial is in the neighborhood, since denial often leads to other psychologically primitive and/or neurotic responses in the determined user.

That doesn't mean I don't think the Bush Administration should confront it more frequently; or that I am not happy with the most recent efforts on the part of the White House to make the public more aware of what is really happening. They should do it often. As for the mistakes they have made--I believe they have made good faith efforts to remedy what errors they can while still moving forward in a complex and historically new type of war that the enemy has brought to us.

It is simply that they have had their hands tied behind their back for several years and have only recently actively tried to break out of this political conundrum of denial, projection, and paranoia that motivates much of the opposition. And that observation about the opposition is a kind thing to say on my part--since many are also motivated by sheer malevolence, hatred of America, combined with an untrammelled desire for power.

But I am not trying to reach people in that latter group. They are beyond psychological help and will never willingly face the consequences of their actions. For them, it will always be someone else's fault when their intellectual and moral positions bear bitter fruit. Sadly, it is often the case that many innocent people will be dragged down along with them when the consequences hit.

Reality is the ultimate cure for those in denial. Either they deal with the real world; or they face the consequences eventually -- sort of like the deer standing frozen in the headlights of an oncoming car.


Psychological Displacement is defined as:

The separation of intense emotion from its real object and its redirection toward someone or something that is less offensive or threatening in order to avoid dealing directly with what is frightening or threatening. The purpose of displacement is to avoid having to cope with the actual reality that is too painful. Instead, by using displacement, an individual is able to still experience his or her anger, but it is directed at a less threatening target than the real cause. In this way, the individual does not have to be responsible for the consequences of his/her anger and feels more safe.

Here is a recent example of this defense mechanism in action.

Here are two more.

I also wrote recently about displacement's role in the etiology of Bush Derangement Syndrome.

As you can see, it is an all-purpose type of defense that protects the user from having to deal with a painful reality or from questioning cherished beliefs. By blaming Bush and America, one does not have to take either the moral or physical responsibility for dealing with the real evil that has been unleashed upon the world.

Standing up against those who kidnap and behead innocents; blow themselves and others up in the name of God; and have openly and without a lick of shame discussed the annihilation of millions--now that would require real moral courage.


....when you're having fun.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Today we’re going to visit the Wonderful World of Denial. An appreciation of this particular psychological defense mechanism might be extremely helpful in trying to understand some of the political insanity prevalent in the world today.

Denial can be thought of as a complex psychological process where there may be some conscious knowledge or awareness of events in the world, but somehow one fails to feel their emotional impact or see their logical consequences.

Denial is an attempt to reject unacceptable feelings, needs, thoughts, wishes--or even a painful external reality that alters the perception of ourselves. This psychological defense mechanism protects us temporarily from:

-Knowledge (things we don’t want to know)
-Insight or awareness that threatens our self-esteem; or our mental or physical health; or our security (things we don't want to think about)
-Unacceptable feelings (things we don’t want to feel)

Think of it this way. Every one of us has at one point or another in our lives had to face an unpleasant reality or painful truth and at the very least probably desperately wished it would go away. The first words out of the mouth of someone notified of the sudden death of a friend or loved one is usually an involuntary exclamation of, “NO!” And this initial--and universal-- angry refusal to accept the pain we would feel if the death were real, is perfectly natural. The negative reaction gives us some time to readjust our thinking and our feelings and prepare mentally and physically for the horrible reality of death.

But if you are still saying, “No, it can’t be true!” days and weeks after the death; refusing to face the reality; then you are in serious denial.

One situation where the concept of psychological denial is used quite frequently, is in the Chemical Dependency field (drug and alcohol abuse). Anyone who has dealt with an addict has probably heard one of the following phrases or something like it:
“I could quit anytime I wanted.”
“I’d quit if people would leave me alone.”
“I can handle it on my own.”
“I’m under stress and it helps me to relax”

I could go on, but you have all head the excuses that alcoholics and drug addicts make to pretend to themselves that they don’t have a problem. When confronted, they become angry and usually contend that it is their confronter who has the REAL problem, not them. Adolescents are also extremely good at using this strategy.

Denial is also commonly used by people with chronic illnesses such as:
- diabetes (“I can eat anything I want”);
-heart problems (“I’m not really having chest pain”);
-cancer (“It’s just a small cough”) and
-AIDS (“I’m not Gay so I couldn’t get it”).

All of this just goes to show that it is very difficult to confront one’s mortality; or to give up one’s fantasies of control or invincibility. Yet, facing reality—even painful reality-- is also one of the many important challenges of life that each of us needs to accomplish every day.

Denial need not be absolute and completely cut off from reality. Even among alcoholics and drug users there is a varying level of awareness of their problem. Some accept that they are in jail or sick because of their substance use, but yet are still not willing to do anything about it. Some may recognize some facts about their drinking (like that they get put in jail), but completely deny the impact of those facts on themselves or their families; or the future implications of continued drinking or drug use (e.g., that they are killing themselves and will die).

So, what does all this have to do with the current situation in the world? Well, I submit that denial can be a strategy not only of individuals, but of groups; organizations; and entire nations.

The Wonderful World of Denial allows someone to believe something is true, when it is obvious to everyone else it is false. Iit permits someone to pretend they are feeling "love" or other altruistic emotions when they are actually behaving in a hateful manner; it hides the truth by using big words and grand concepts to prevent an individual from feeling unacceptable feelings (some have referred to "intellectualizion" (example)--which is a defense mechanism related to denial-- as "denial gone to college").

I would be engaging in "intellectualization" in this blog, if I tried to pretend that I was neutral and did not have feelings about the incidents I see every day in the news. I try to be objective (but I don't have any particular obligation to be objective, since I am not claiming to be either a journalist or a saint); and I am committed to an objective Truth and Reality that exists beyond what I may want or feel it to be. On the whole, intellectualization is a step healthier than denial, which is generally considered exceedingly unhealthy in most cases; but it is still neurotic.

Denial can make otherwise intelligent individuals/groups/nations behave in a stupid or clueless manner, because they are too threatened by the Truth and are unable to process what is perfectly apparent to everyone. People who live in this Wonderful World go through their daily lives secure in the knowledge that their self-image is protected against any information, feelings, or awareness that might make them have to change their view of the world. Nothing--and I mean NOTHING--not facts, not observable behavior; not the use of reason or logic; or their own senses will make an individual in denial reevaluate that world view. All events will simply be reinterpreted to fit into the belief system of that world--no matter how ridiculous, how distorted, or how psychotic that reinterpretation appears to others. Consistency, common sense, reality, and objective truth are unimportant and are easily discarded--as long as the world view remains intact.

This is the Wonderful World that we are often amused to see young children playing in. It is amusing to us because we understand that they are just beginning to develop their intellectual and emotional faculties and denial and the subsequent use of fantasy is an important developmental phase; and is also rather cute when practiced by a toddler.

There are many children's stories where this theme plays out--Where the Wild Things Are; The Secret Garden; The Neverending Story, etc. etc. Fantasy books help the child (and sometimes the adult!) to reconcile himself/herself to the harsher aspects of reality.

But a childlike response to reality is not so cute or sweet when it is a behavioral strategy engaged in by a full grown man or woman, who , when they suffer a shock--such as the loss of a loved one; or suffer the insight that their beloved belief system is responsible for death and destruction-- deny the facts and substitute an agreeable fantasy or delusion and then behave as if their fantasy/delusion were true. In extreme cases, this is called severe mental illness.

Certainly denial can be used by anyone; and both sides of the political spectrum engage in it-- Democrats or Republicans; Left or Right. But the most recent example, and the one with the most serious implications is the continued denial of reality on the part of Democrats and the Left regarding Iraq.

The examples of their unwillingness to face reality are everywhere. They pretend they didn't vote for military action. They distort what was actually said and even when confronted with audiotapes and transcripts of what was said; they continue to deny that they meant any such thing. When confronted with what Bush or Cheney actually said about the reasons for going to war; they will insistently adhere to an interpretation that fits their template.

Their denial is complete on this issue. It is simply not possible for them to admit that Bush was correct and they were wrong. This is unacceptable knowledge. Bush must be wrong, and America must fail for them to maintain not only their self-esteem, but also their worldview.

Now that one of their number has come out and expressed something positive about the "quagmire" in Iraq; and the polls show they are losing popular support and hurting the troops when they talk about giving up--they will possibly behave differently for a while. But I suspect they will cling to their fantasy even as they pragmatically deal with the reality. We'll hear about these fantasies over and over again because they simply cannot give them up. It is far too dangerous to their sense of self. Once things settle down, they go right back to believing what was just shown to be false.

By the way, optimism is NOT denial. Extreme optimism can become a form of denial, if it is excessive and prevents an individual from doing what needs to be done. But in fact, optimism is usually an important personality trait that tends to make people who possess it successful in the world of reality. People who have healthy optimism are those who face the truth about a situation and make adjustments to make their vision of how things should be come into reality.

After 9/11, Bush faced a terribly unpleasant fact-- and understood that, if we did nothing to respond, we would still be pretending that everything is fine and dandy. If we ignored what had happened, we could maintain that false sense of security held by the nation in the previous decade -- at least until the next attack upon us. Many would prefer to pretend that 9/11 didn't really happen. Or to pretend that the U.S. caused the attacks; or that if Bush weren't the President, the attacks would never have happened. All these fantasies have one thing in common. They deny the reality for the purpose of maintaining a sense of control over events whose implications are horrendous.

For some, it is so much better to believe in the fantasy of control (get rid of Bush and it will all go away--just like a bad dream!)

One of the most amusing aspects of the denial of the Islamofascist threat, is how eager those who deny its reality are ready to embrace the fantasy that somehow Christianity is the real threat. Witness all those who claim that Bush is imminently going to impose a Christian theocracy here; the complete hysteria over Christian "symbols" and the denial of a Judeo-Christian heritage. This is the same kind of psychological displacement that can be seen in the phenomenon of Bush Derangement Syndrome. If Bush is the cause of all the evil in the world, these same people see Christianity (or Judaism--any religion but Islam) as the greatest threat to the utopia in their mind.

The intellectual "Vietnamizing" of every event in Iraq and the failure to see Iraq's importance in the War on Terror and consequently for the long-term security of America, completely denies the Islamofascist threat to civilization. Putting Iraq in this context makes one understand the power of freedom and democracy to transform the world.

Failure to appreciate the liberation of millions of men, women and children, who for the first time in generations have the potential to live their lives in freedom is an incredible denial of what the Left has always claimed to stand for (is "liberation of the oppressed" one of their memes?). Well, Bush has faced reality, and is doing what needs to be done. Granted, he is not doing it perfectly--far from it. But the debate should be how to do it better, not whining about how we shouldn't have done it in the first place! Or (in a whining tone): How was I supposed to know that people could actually die in a war? or, If it doesn't go perfectly we should just give up.

The proponents of doom and gloom would maintain that it is Bush who is in denial (or people like me). How does one tell who is correct when both are claiming the other side is in denial?

I once saw a remarkable patient with arelatively rare neurological diagnosis. He had suffered a stroke and one of his symptoms was that he did not acknowledge that the entire left side of his body was physically a part of him. It was an astonishing conversation our team had with him. "Is this your arm," the neurologist would ask him, pointing to the patient's left arm. "No, it's not mine," would be the reply. The neurologist would then take the man's arm and show him how it was connected with the rest of his body. The man would watch this, then shake his head and emphatically tell us, "No! I see that it is connected. Someone must have connected it when I wasn't looking. But it isn't my arm."

The evidence that it was his arm was before him. Because of physical damage to his brain, this gentleman was never able to be convinced that the arm on the left side of his body belonged to him. Likewise, in the case of psychological denial, the individual is also not swayed by repeated attempts to point out the obvious.

- the Joint Resolution agreed to by both Democrats and Republicans to use force Iraq, which lists 22 reasons why (and WMD is not the first or the second reason)

- the historically low number of U.S. military killed in combat (which must always be said with the obligatory "every death is a tragedy, of course...." disclaimer. Indeed, every death is a tragedy, but most people would rather die for something positive; than for nothing)--yet the fact remains that in 3 years of combat, U.S. combat death numbers are not even close of one battle in WWII (Iwo Jima); and are nowhere near the death toll of Vietnam. This amazing fact is brushed off. Protestors who are really opposed to needless death might want to consider a more efficient protest strategy; perhaps against automobile manufacturers, since in this country alone, we must deal with more than 40,000 deaths per year )

-the fact that Iraq has now held two elections --both of which were highly successful; both of which are now completely ignored as milestones; with Democrats determinedly maintaining just as each milestone is passed, that the only important milestone is the next one.

-the fact that the MSM has continued to NOT give any context to any battle or death reported in Iraq. How is one to make any sense of the events in Iraq withou this information? Thus, their reporting suggests that there is no sense, no rhyme, no reason to all the events. They are simply haphazard intermittant occurrances, not anchored to any strategy or plan. But if you look at what soldiers say; what Centcom says; and what many knowledgable milbloggers point out--there is a carefully thought out overall strategy and the "disconnected" events that make no sense to the reporters (who don't even bother to do the simplest analysis) make perfect sense to the soldiers and commanders on the ground. So what if not every action works out according to the plan--that is the way of war.

-the fact that even when their own words are pointed out to them, Democrats and the Left deny that is what they meant and cling to the belief that they "did not support" the war.

-the fact that no amount of evidence of Saddam's connection to terrorism --e.g., supporting Palestinian suicide bombers; providing refuge for well-known terrorists; even have a terrorist training camp in Iraq--is ever enough to justify making a connection in the minds of some.

-the fact that most of Iraq is peaceful is not acknowledged at all. There are even functioning amusement parks (built by our Marines)--but who would know when the media keep silent about such things

-the fact that many of the U.S. military personnel in Iraq are positive about the mission and that re-enlistment rates are at an all time high.

-the fact that there is no way militarily for the terrorists/insurgents to actually win.

-the fact that there is now a government in Iraq elected by the people there

-the fact that by going into Iraq, we have set in motion a wave of freedom (or at least a desire for it) all over the Middle East. Witness - Lebanon; elections in Egypt; subtle but definite changes in Saudi Arabia; Libya and the ripples have extended even beyond that locale.

In recognizing the above facts, I do not deny that there are difficulties--even unexpected difficulties that have come to pass. It is true that the U.S. planners did not anticipate a delayed and fierce resistance from the dead-enders in Iraq. Everyone did expected a humanitarian disaster and refugee problem--which did not materialize as it turns out. But that is one one of the messy things about war --and reality. Things are not perfect. The unexpected happens. Death occurs, even innocents can get caught up in it. This is sad, but true.

One of the strategies we use in psychiatry to deal with denial--and other psychological processes that are counterproductive-- is to make the unconscious or partly conscious process or dynamic become fully conscious. When confronted with reality, it then becomes a choice for the individual. to continue to live in denial; or to confront reality and do what is necessary.

Joe Lieberman, a Democrat and an honorable person recently returned from Iraq and had this to say: (hat tip: Instapundit)

I have just returned from my fourth trip to Iraq in the past 17 months and can report real progress there. More work needs to be done, of course, but the Iraqi people are in reach of a watershed transformation from the primitive, killing tyranny of Saddam to modern, self-governing, self-securing nationhood--unless the great American military that has given them and us this unexpected opportunity is prematurely withdrawn. . . .

Here is an ironic finding I brought back from Iraq. While U.S. public opinion polls show serious declines in support for the war and increasing pessimism about how it will end, polls conducted by Iraqis for Iraqi universities show increasing optimism. Two-thirds say they are better off than they were under Saddam, and a resounding 82% are confident their lives in Iraq will be better a year from now than they are today. What a colossal mistake it would be for America's bipartisan political leadership to choose this moment in history to lose its will and, in the famous phrase, to seize defeat from the jaws of the coming victory.

So which will it be? The Wonderful World of Denial where we can close our eyes and dream our lives away, pretending that the world is a safe place (if only Bush were not President)? Or, the infinitely less perfect World of Reality-where tbings aren't safe, and where life is often messy and dirty and not entirely as clear or precise as we would like--but where we can actually do something to make the world safer, more democratic, and more free?

(note: parts of this post were originally posted in September, 2004)


I have a lot of work to attend to today, so blogging will be light until later this afternoon. Check out all the fine links in my sidebar.

Back later.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Witch Cheerleader Hunt

Here is yet another example of the usual media trivializing and scapegoating of Pharmaceutical companies. Interesting that it comes out the same day that Merck has announced massive layoffs of its workers (heard it on Fox News and this news item was the only link I could find right now).

As it happens, I haven't noted a rush to hire any "ugly" TV news anchors (at least in the looks department). It seems to me that the News and Entertainment industry has far more of a psychological investment in "beautiful people" who happen to be paid far more than they are worth objectively. There are even movies made about the stereotype (Anchorman comes to mind).

If I were the NY Times, I would spearhead a movement to clean- up the MSM Barbie and Ken talking news dolls--who are also in the market to "sell" a particular product/storyline in much the same way they so cleverly suggest the pharmaceutical companies are doing.

I have written before about the media/leftist "witch hunt" perpetrated on the Drug Industry--a witch hunt that masquerades as concern for the consumer and the public. Instead of a "witch hunt" today we have a "cheerleader hunt". Same thing. I suppose businesses aren't supposed to hire good-looking, socially comfortable, enthusiastic people? Of course, the implication is that cheerleaders are...well, not quite intellectually up to the mark, shall we say? Unlike the extremely talented news anchors like Anderson what's his name.

This is just the latest of many attacks on a business that invests millions of dollars and employs thousands of hard-working and conscientious people to develop and market the medications we have come to take for granted in this country.

Not only that, but these companies they give billions of dollars worth of free medication samples to organizations such as the one I work for; all have patient assistance programs for those who can't afford the medications; AND they practically subsidize continuning medical education in this country (since doctors are generally too cheap to pay what such education really is worth). But all that pales to insignificance because they dare to expect a profit from their business!

How typically capitalistic of them.

Why everyone knows that left to their own devices and without constant government supervision, these oppressive organizations would be out there killing people simply to increase their profit margin.

That, at least, is the left's attitude. And they market that attitude with great gusto, I must say.

Lest you doubt that ideas have consequences; and that BAD (or stupid) ideas often have BAD consequences, you might check out thistoday or this one from earlier in the year.

I wonder if those thousands of people laid off by Merck because of the Vioxx lawsuits are appreciative of the left's herculean efforts to champion the oppressed and downtrodden? If not, I'm sure they soon will be--particularly since they now most certainly fit the definition of oppressed and downtrodden.

The question is, who is responsible for making them that way? If you haven't figured out whose bad ideas are responsible for this humanitarian disaster, I suggest you read this post .

A Few Quick Touch and Go's

Dr. Sanity is going to take off and do a quick flyover the mental health blogsphere, performing a few "touch and go" landing maneuvers. (Besides it gives me the opportunity to use one of my favorite pictures of myself!)

Neo-neocon has a great post up on shame as the motivation behind murderers and terrorists. As a companion piece, I refer you to my own article on "Shame, the Arab Psyche and Islam".

ShrinkWrapped takes on Hollywood, the mediacrats and the war.

Dr. Helen discusses women as predators; while Sigmund, Carl and Alfred goes "behind the veil" to view muslim women.

GM's Corner is justifiably upset with the latest evidence of liberal bias in education.

And, Shrinkette investigates how it all went wrong in Psychiatry, in an interview with Dr. Nancy Andreasen.

If there are other blogs out there with a psychiatric or psychological bent, feel free to use the trackback or comments to let me know and in my next touch and go, I will include you.

UPDATE: How could I forget Gaghdad Bob at One Cosmos! And Sissy Willis at SISU puts on her psychological hat in this excellent post.


Wretchard, discussing labels:

One of the most important functions of labels is to summarize a large quantity of information in a single symbol. Because people don't have the time to comprehensively analyze the specific attributes of a product they often rely on labels or simply branding information to serve as a proxy indicator of the properties they wish to measure. Labels perform a similar function in politics.
People buy on the basis of labels; people vote on the basis of labels, and sometimes they are misled.

He uses the concepts of "soft" power (better than "hard" presumably); and the Kyoto Climate agreement (signers are more environmentally friendly than non-signers) as examples of how misled consumers are--since neither concepts works out in the real world to be accurate.

Actually, I think he is on to something. The label of "Peace" or "Antiwar" activist (whose activism encourages and enables those who are most violently opposed to peace) immediately comes to mind, for example; or "Religion of Peace".

In short, the mislabeling tactic has been used widely--both consciously and unconsciously--by groups whose intent and behavior is the exact opposite of their name. Clearly, if they actually labeled themselves appropriately, they would not get nearly the positive attention and support they desire; nor the market share.

A few examples:

ANSWER (which stands for Act Now To Stop War and End Racism) could more accurately be named the VANITY Movement (Violently Antiwar Now International Totalitarian Youth Movement)

UPJ (United for Peace and Justice) would be USDE - United in Support of Dictators Everywhere

Socialism (sounds so comfy, doesn't it?) would really be Antisocialism.

Multiculturalism is more aptly termed Nonwesternculturalism or AntiAmericanism (since the only culture that is unacceptable and held to be inferior is western culture in general; American culture in particular)

The concept of "Diversity" would really be called a "Homgeneity of Ideas"

Affirmative Action would be referred to as Institutional Racism

The chant, "Bush Lied, People Died" would be revised to, "3000 People Died on 9/11 before Bush Said Anything" . The former has the advantage of rhyming, but the latter is closer to truth in advertising. And, that is exactly why the people chanting the former cutesy phrase are so indignant and scream ragefully like stuck pigs about "cynical manipulation" when images of 9/11 are shown; or even when that horrible day is mentioned. They know all about it. The "cynical manipulation" they are referring to is entirely a product of their own minds.

Yes, packaging and labeling really do have an impact on consumers and whether they will buy a product or not. And knowing that there is a deliberate attempt to undermine language and distort the meaning of words in order to manipulate and control those who can't be bothered to think; you need to be be particularly careful these days what you are buying into when you uncritically accept politically-motivated brand names at face value.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


The speech the President should give about Iraq:

My fellow Americans: We are winning, and winning decisively, in Iraq and the Middle East. We defeated Saddam Hussein's army in just a few weeks. None of the disasters that many feared would follow our invasion occurred. Our troops did not have to fight door to door to take Baghdad. The Iraqi oil fields were not set on fire. There was no civil war between the Sunnis and the Shiites. There was no grave humanitarian crisis.

Saddam Hussein was captured and is awaiting trial. His two murderous sons are dead. Most of the leading members of Saddam's regime have been captured or killed. After our easy military victory, we found ourselves inadequately prepared to defeat the terrorist insurgents, but now we are prevailing.

Iraq has held free elections in which millions of people voted. A new, democratic constitution has been adopted that contains an extensive bill of rights. Discrimination on the basis of sex, religion or politics is banned. Soon the Iraqis will be electing their first parliament.
We grieve deeply over every lost American and coalition soldier, but we also recognize what those deaths have accomplished. A nation the size of California, with 25 million inhabitants, has been freed from tyranny, equipped with a new democratic constitution, and provided with a growing new infrastructure that will help every Iraqi and not just the privileged members of a brutal regime. For every American soldier who died, 12,000 Iraqi voters were made into effective citizens.

Virtually every American soldier who writes home or comes back to visit his family tells the same story: We have won, Iraqis have won, and life in most of Iraq goes on without violence and with obvious affection between the Iraqi people and our troops. These soldiers have not just restored order in most places, they have built schools, aided businesses, distributed aid and made friends.
We have created a balance of power in the Middle East in which no regime can easily threaten any other. In doing this, we and our allies have followed a long tradition: We worked to prevent Imperial Germany from dominating Europe in 1914, Hitler from doing the same in 1940, and the Soviet Union from doing this in 1945. Now we are doing it in the Middle East.
(hat tip: SCeresnie)

Read it all. And understand that there are many people in this country whose greatest desire is NOT to hear those words. Who would rather our soldiers HAD died in vain. Who would rather continue to hate Bush than to imagine for one second that he did--and is doing-- the right thing in the Middle East.

In short, there are some of our fellow citizens; many Democratic congressmen; and almost all those of the stark-raving lunatic left who would prefer a complete and utter denial of reality, rather than to face a reality where Bush, America, and even Iraq, have emerged triumphant.

Too bad for them. I have an hour on Thursdays where I might fit them in.


On good news in Iraq

Bruce Willis: “I am baffled to understand why the things I saw happening in Iraq are not being reported,” he told MSNBC, the American news channel.

On "extraordinary rendition"

Al Gore (as reported by Richard Clarke) : "That's a no-brainer. Of course it's a violation of international law, that's why it's a covert action. The guy is a terrorist. Go grab his ass."

On what's really important in the Iraq War

Armando at Daily Kos: My view is that Vietnam makes it difficult to believe that BushCo will pull out so quickly - the interval between the US leaving and Iraq collapsing into unvarnished civil war and chaos would be too short - the cutting and running by BushCo would be too apparent. And I think this will put Democrats on the hot seat as well as Republicans on what to do in Iraq.

On politically loaded vocabulary quizzes and other instances of propaganda in the classroom:

Professor Bainbridge: As a teacher, you're an authority figure with a captive audience. Your job is to educate students, not to serve up propaganda. By introducing political biases into the classroom, you create a coercive and hostile learning environment that may impede some students from doing their best work. In particular, when it comes to assigning grades, you can't let students think that their grade depends on appeasing your political preferences rather than the merits of their answer.


Image hosted by Time for the weekly insanity udate, where the insane, the bizarre, the ridiculous, and the completely absurd are highlighted for all to see! This has been a week of rare idiocy (as always!). Calling all bloggers! Be sure to send in your entries to the Carnival, which will be posted every Sunday. Entries need to be in by 8 pm ET on Saturday to make their way into the list that week. Only one post entry per blogger, please. Thanks for all the submissions. SO MANY INSANITIES! SO LITTLE TIME!
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1. You would think that most men would prefer to be alive when they have sex --even with virgins. (hat tip: SC&A)

2. I have to say I am speechless, too.

3. Urban legends about the Iraq war; and Iraq by the numbers.

4. How dare they question his patriotism!

5. The right to very bad free speech.

6. Clintonian Ennui throughout history?

7. Why was it the Democrats were opposed to this guy ? Were they afraid he'd actually do something?

8. The academization of Palestinian ideology.

9. Oh yeah. That's why I heard of him before.

10. The most conciliatory response would be is: please, just take your medicine. You might also like one of these to stuff in your mouth.

11. Democratic dreams and Liberal fantasies. Also, more Democratic amnesia.

12. Just another hostage in the war on terror.

13. Who could have realized that the HOV lane would galvanize national debate about when a fetus becomes a person?

14. It definitely would be a tragedy of theatrical proportions!

15. My God! There literally is no escape from MSM liberal bias! Just ask this guy . Or check out this update. So, is this very surprising?

16. A visit to the nursing home.

17. Attention K-Mart Rioters!

18. Amazing! Now America is a threat to galactic peace! Get out the Reynolds Wrap!

19. World's ugliest dog dies. Sadly, the world's ugliest man is still alive.

20. First Thanksgiving; now Christmas under attack! Even the US Postal Service has succumbed to political correctness.

21. Not completely sane to begin with, PETA plumbs new depths of insanity.

22. When did her spaceship return? It's like the Vietnam protests, except without the protesters. Without the adoring masses, either.

23. He simply lacks any God-given talent.

23. Sympathy for the Devil?

24. The organ relay in the 2008 Olympics?

25. Bike + iPod = Death


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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Unpleasant Truths About Torture

Charles Krauthammer proposes some sane thinking about torture:

Breaking the laws of war and abusing civilians are what, to understate the matter vastly, terrorists do for a living. They are entitled, therefore, to nothing. Anyone who blows up a car bomb in a market deserves to spend the rest of his life roasting on a spit over an open fire. But we don't do that because we do not descend to the level of our enemy. We don't do that because, unlike him, we are civilized. Even though terrorists are entitled to no humane treatment, we give it to them because it is in our nature as a moral and humane people. And when on rare occasions we fail to do that, as has occurred in several of the fronts of the war on terror, we are duly disgraced.

The norm, however, is how the majority of prisoners at Guantanamo have been treated. We give them three meals a day, superior medical care, and provision to pray five times a day. Our scrupulousness extends even to providing them with their own Korans, which is the only reason alleged abuses of the Koran at Guantanamo ever became an issue. That we should have provided those who kill innocents in the name of Islam with precisely the document that inspires their barbarism is a sign of the absurd lengths to which we often go in extending undeserved humanity to terrorist prisoners.

Third, there is the terrorist with information. Here the issue of torture gets complicated and the easy pieties don't so easily apply. Let's

take the textbook case. Ethics 101: A terrorist has planted a nuclear bomb in New York City. It will go off in one hour. A million people will die. You capture the terrorist. He knows where it is. He's not talking.

Question: If you have the slightest belief that hanging this man by his thumbs will get you the information to save a million people, are you permitted to do it?

Now, on most issues regarding torture, I confess tentativeness and uncertainty. But on this issue, there can be no uncertainty: Not only is it permissible to hang this miscreant by his thumbs. It is a moral duty.

Read the entire article.

Like Krauthammer, I am opposed to torture in almost every case. I am also opposed to killing. Having said that, I can imagine some situations where--if my daughter's life were at stake, for example--I would be willing to do either. Those who would condemn me because I haven't acted up to their moral standards and eschewed under any and all circumstances torture or killing someone, do so because they are trapped in some idealistic (and therefore unconnected to the real world) fantasy. They see themselves as "morally superior", but that is just a way of stroking their own egos.

I fail to see anything "superior" about an abstract, "moral system" that forces me to sacrifice my daughter's life--or the lives of thousands for that matter-- when I could have done something to prevent it. I live in a real world where choices need to be made and unpleasant realities sometimes need to be faced unflinchingly.

Like Krauthammer, I will not gnash a tooth or rend a single garment; neither will I weep or wail or even lose sleep over the use of aggressive interrogation procedures on terrorists, when such procedures might save the lives of real people living in the real world.

And that is the fundamental moral difference between the terrorist and me. He or she will kill innocents for the sake of of their ideology. I will also kill when necessary, but to protect the lives of those innocents and to prevent their enslavement to the terrorist's ideology. It is a matter of moral choice you see.

I choose to accept the responsibility of being conscious and living in the real world. The terrorist has chosen to forego that responsibility for the glory of his religion.

UPDATE: Dilbert has some pleasant suggestions for torturing appropriately managing captured terrorists that I can appreciate.


Jeff at BEAUTIFUL ATROCITIES is back blogging after a hiatus! The site has always been one of my favorites (you'll laugh, you'll cry--you'll kiss your sanity goodbye!)

Welcome back to the blogsphere, Jeff.


Damn the man!

1. Highest stock market in 41/2 years.

2. The UN Security Council issues a statement blaming Hezbollah instead of Israel! Hooray for John Bolton! (hat tip: OBH)

3. The Bosnian quagmire nears an end.

4. The experts' take on the Iraq War.

5. Abu Musab al Zarqawi had a very very bad week --though not as bad as I would have liked.

6. Popular culture in the Arab world is starting to turn against terrorism.

7. Azerbaijan rallies for Democracy and calls on Bush to help.

At the same time, the MSM is always careful to document the perfidy and evil of the Bush administration'(all of the following examples are to be screamed hysterically at the top of one's voice):

1. THE U.S. IS USING CHEMICAL WEAPONS IN IRAQ! (except that it's not)

2. BUSH WAS GOING TO BOMB AL-JAZEERA BUT WAS TACKLED TO THE GROUND BY TONY BLAIR! (Jeez, even I thought it would be nice to bomb al-Jazeera from time to time...all right, almost all the time).

3. DICK CHENEY IS SATAN HIMSELF! WITNESS HIS LONG MARCH TO UNTRAMMELED POWER! (as was said about Zaphod Beeblebrox- "He's just this guy, you know?")

4. ...AND HE SUPPORTS TORTURE! AND PUTTING PUPPIES IN BLENDERS! (no...wait--that was Glenn Reynolds; but Cheney probably told him to)

5. BUSH IS AN INTERGALACTIC WAR MONGER! (I don't need to make a professional comment here, do I?)

6. BUSH KEPT SECRET INFORMATION HIDDEN FROM CONGRESS TO TRICK THEM INTO VOTING FOR THE WAR!(Democrats are either too stupid to think for themselves; or...maybe Bush isn't as stupid as they believe he is???? Or both, of course.)

You know the drill by now. Anything good that happens because of Bush or his administration's policies is kept tightly under wraps (that would be speculation, don't you know?). But any rumor - no matter how bizarre or unlikely; any innuendo or outright lie that could possibly hurt Bush or his administration is widely plastered all over the news media, speculation or not; classified or not.

I won't even get into the question of how all that classified, supposedly top-secret information (e.g., secret recordings/transcriptions; secret briefings etc. etc.) that are exposed so theatrically with the usual histrionic flourish were obtained "leaked".

But I thought special prosecutor Fitzgerald made it perfectly clear that our intelligence agencies depend on this kind of information being kept top secret and that those who willfully and deliberately leak such information are scum.

Unless the leak hurts Bush, apparently.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Glass is Always Half Full

People often accuse me of being overly optimistic about life; and they have also predicted that I will suffer intense disillusion because of it someday. I readily agree to the first assertion, but have yet to suffer the dire consequences they anticipate for me in the second.

I suppose this outlook--besides being a significant part of my psychological makeup--is also one of the foundations of my political outlook. It represents a classic case of "the glass is half empty vs. the glass is half full" conundrum.

Depending on how you look at it; and on your psychological perspective, the world can be a glass "half full" or "half empty. Those who are hopeful/optimistic see it one way (half full); those who are defeatist/pessimistic see it the other (half empty). [Note: those who don'tbother to look at all, are generally in some sort of denial or inhabit a fantasy world of their own.] Often, the optimist and the pessimist are looking at exactly the same thing, but their psyches interpret what they see in somewhat different fashions.

Since optimism and pessimism are primarily psychological, are there any reasons for an individual to cultivate one perspective over the other?

It turns out that there is data that supports optimism and hope as having a positive impact on individual health, mortality, and coping; as well as predicting positive outcomes in a variety of situations.

Optimism is positively and highly correlated with mastery and self-esteem. It is negatively correlated with anxiety and neuroticism. The correlations appear to be higher for women than for men.

The test that measures optimism is strongly correlated with reported use of particular coping strategies such as emotional regulation strategies (sublimation, humor, and anticipation) and strongly negatively correlated with avoidant coping strategies (such as fantasy, acting-out, repression, projection, hypochondriasis and passive-aggression).

Optimism was also found in some studies to improve health and lead to substantially better illness outcomes and longevity; while pessimism was found to predispose to illness and to increase mortality. As one researcher commented, "It confirmed our common-sense belief. It tells us that mind and body are linked and that attitude has an impact on the final outcome — death."

There is likely a strong biological component to both optimism and pessimism. There are pros and cons to both styles. Optimism taken to expremes can represent a denial of reality and unacceptable pain. Pessimism taken to extremes leads to depression and self-fulfilling prophecy because it focuses only on the negative and see catastrophes everywhere. Further, pessimism and its partner hopelessness, can sap the will and prevent the individual from taking those steps necessary to achieve success, and thus ensures failure.

I would submit that genuine optimists are not in psychological denial. They see the situation for what it is, yet are also able to mobilize the energy and effort necessary to be able to push through, persevere and complete a task despite setbacks. A healthy dose of optimism can be uplifting and hopeful.

Achieving a balance of being realistic and hopeful can be a challenge. A perfect example of unhealthy optimism is the gambler who always believes that his risks will result in winning. It is easy to see that this is more than optimistic, it is delusional, because the individual denies the reality of statistics and chance inherent in gambling and can grossly overestimate his/her odds of winning.

The huge advantage of the optimist becomes clear when reality in all its unpleasant aspects is faced unflinchingly and taken on. The optimist will work to identify strategies that have a potential for success and be much more likely to implement them. The optimist, because he or she is focused on success, will be quicker to abandon a failing strategy and substitute one with a greater chance of working.

While being optimistic does not guarantee success since it is only a psychological state; if success is possible, the optimist will have a great chance of finding it.

Pessimists on the other hand, are very good at looking at reality and acknowledging the unpleasantness; but the problem is that it makes them flinch, and they give up searching for solutions much earlier than the optimist would. Failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for the pessimist, who at heart believes that is the only possible outcome anyway. They can accuse the optimist of living in a "fantasyland", but that accusation can just as easily be applied to them, since "failure" can become a fantasy as readily as "success" can. Iraq is a case in point.

The ultimate determination of failure or success in Iraq will have to wait for other key events to unfold in that country. But amazing things have happened there already--events that the pessimists never dreamed would be possible in their wildest nightmares. The actions of the Iraqi people themselves standing upproudly with their purple fingers for a future as a free and democratic country could not have been imagined just two short years ago. These are the same people who, day after day, must face the reality of an enemy determined to kill them rather than let them be free. This reality has not prevented them from doing what they must do in order to bring the blessings of Liberty to themselves and their posterity. They have not given up just because there are insurgents and terrorists who will not accept any optimistic vision that includes freedom and self-determination in Iraq.

But the pessimists here in our own country would have us pack up and go home without completing the job; abandoning the Iraqis and the future that they are now able to see clearly. The pessimists are perfectly willing to embrace failure even now--when the odds of success have consistently been on the rise.

The way of the optimist is to persevere and keep the eyes on the prize (an Iraqi Democracy in the Middle East). Failure to achieve our strategic goals may in fact result from our efforts, but it is most certainly not a given. And there is ample evidence after two major democratic votes in the face of threatened terrorism, that the Iraqi people are predominantly optimistic about their chances. This optimism is also present in the military personnel who work every day with the Iraqi people. They can see the positive impact of their efforts, and thus their optimism is reinforced.

It might be cynically argued that the Democrats' and Left's overwhelmingly pessismistic vision and hopelessnes regarding both Iraq and the war on Islamofascism in general, is based on their optimism that taking the low road and undermining President Bush and his Administration will bring them back to power in American politics.

I remain optimistic that this will not be the case.

UPDATE: One Marine's perspective about the Iraq War contrasts with the perspective the Press want to present:

One Marine, Sgt. Todd Bowers, who did two tours in Iraq, described the attitude of many press types. "They didn't want to talk to us." Why? I asked. "Because we were gung-ho for the mission." Bowers, who was saved from grievous injury when a bullet lodged in the sight of his rifle (a sight his father had purchased for him), is chary about the press.

In his first tour, he noticed that members of the press were reluctant to photograph Iraqis laughing, giving the thumbs up sign, or cheering. Yet Bowers saw plenty that would have made fine snapshots. In Baghdad, Al Kut and Al-Nasiriyah, Bowers reported no signs of anti-American feeling at all among Iraqis.

Fallujah, of course, was different, as the city was a hotbed of terrorism, and the battle of Fallujah was one of the fiercest engagements of the war. During the battle, Bowers found himself sharing a ride with an embedded reporter for the AP. He was asked what he thought of the destruction. Bowers responded that it was "Incredible, overwhelming. But it definitely had to be done." He also stressed that because the enemy had fought so dirty, tough calls had to be made. Later, he saw himself quoted in newspapers around the country to the effect that the destruction was "overwhelming" as if he could not cope

Read it all.


Charles Krauthammer has a great column today, discussing America's devotion to Liberty:
But as you walk the streets of Washington, it is harder to discount America's quiet homage to foreign liberators -- statues built decades apart without self-consciousness and without any larger architectural (let alone political) plan. They have but one thing in common: They share America's devotion to liberty. Liberty not just here but everywhere. Indeed, liberty for its own sake.

America has long proclaimed this principle, but in the post-9/11 era, it has pursued it with unusual zeal and determination. Much of the world hears America declare the spread of freedom the centerpiece of its foreign policy and insists nonetheless that America's costly sacrifices in Iraq and even Afghanistan are nothing more than classic imperialism in search of dominion, oil, pipelines or whatever such commodity most devalues America's exertions. The overwhelming majority of Americans refuse to believe that. Whatever their misgivings about the cost and wisdom of these wars, they know how deep and authentic is the American devotion to liberty.

Many around the world find such sentiments and the accompanying declarations hard to credit. Europeans, in particular, with their long tradition of realpolitik, cannot conceive of a Great Power actually believing such hopeless idealism.

The skepticism is misplaced. It is not just that brave Americans soldiers die to permit Iraqis and Afghans to vote for the first time in their lives. There is evidence closer to home and of older pedigree. The skeptics might take a stroll through America's other great capital. Up New York's Sixth Avenue with its series of seven sculptures to Latin American leaders, culminating at Central Park with magnificent statues of Bolivar, Marti and San Martin. To Washington Square Park, where they will find the Italian revolutionary Garibaldi, while his more republican counterpart, Mazzini, resides along West Drive not very far from Lajos Kossuth, now of Riverside Drive, hero of the Hungarian revolution of 1848.

This is not for show. It is from the heart, the heart of a people conceived in liberty and still believing in liberty. How can they not? It is written in stone all around them.

This is what I have always felt about America and Americans. That our greatest value is Freedom and that, whatever the flaws in the leaders we elect, that we believe in Liberty for its own sake.

And while we occasionally stray off course, there is no other country in the world that has so consistently supported Liberty with both life and fortune; no other country that has so often been a force for Good, confronting those who would enslave and destroy the human soul.

I am most proud that my generation has faced down one of the greatest evils in history; and that today-- despite the always cynical and frequently malevolent forces that assert otherwise; and whose goal is to undermine and distort that tradition-- America still represents the promise of Liberty for all; and that Americans will still always stand up proudly and fight, if necessary, to keep that promise.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men. We . . . solemnly publish and declare, that these colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent states. . . And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."


This week's winners in the Watcher's Council are now posted at the Watcher of Weasels. Every week the Council nominates posts from the blogs of the Council members, and posts from around the blogsphere. The Council then votes to select the "Best" of all these posts. I'm proud to have been selected two weeks in a row for the honor of Best Council Post! Congratulations to all the other winners.


First Place

Acute Senatitis Gates of Vienna

Second Place

What Would Winning the War Over the Courts Be Like? New World Man


First Place

Murtha's War Done With Mirrors

Second Place

Just a Yellow Woman Doing a White Man's Job Michelle Malkin

Be sure to check out all the winners at the Watcher's Site. They make great weekend reading!

Thursday, November 24, 2005


We have so much to be thankful for in America! There has not been a day that has gone by since I was a child that I have not reminded myself how lucky I was to be born the United States.

Here is my good friend Cooky's column in USA Today for you to enjoy.

**WARNING** The following two proclamations are definitely NOT politically correct!

George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation
Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Proclamation establishing Thanksgiving Day
But, this whining piece of intellectual masturbation definitely is PC.
I include it for comic effect.

And last but not least, let us never forget our Troops who risk their lives to defend our freedoms:

May you all have a wonderful holiday, filled with family and food and fun!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Back to blogging tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


John Kerry, Thursday, March 20, 2003:

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator John Kerry issued the following statement in response to the commencement of military strikes in Iraq:

“It appears that with the deadline for exile come and gone, Saddam Hussein has chosen to make military force the ultimate weapons inspections enforcement mechanism. If so, the only exit strategy is victory, this is our common mission and the world’s cause. We're in this together. We want to complete the mission while safeguarding our troops, avoiding innocent civilian casualties, disarming Saddam Hussein and engaging the community of nations to rebuild Iraq.” (emphasis mine)

Well, if you feel that way about it, John, I'm with you all the way. (hat tip: The Corner) How could I have thought you were opposed to the war?

And, as long as we are holding people to their word (otherwise we might have to call them liars, and we wouldn't want to do that, would we?), Aaron has some interesting quotes from Democrats with appropriate pictures.

Democratic Party Plan for Iraq: Hoist the White Flag

John O'Neill has an excellent article up at RCP on "Summer Soldiers".

Senator Kerry, supposedly defending Rep. John Murtha, said, "I won't stand for the Swift-Boating of Jack Murtha!" As one of the 254 members of Mr. Kerry's unit in Vietnam who belonged to Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth, I found Mr. Kerry's comments most ironic.
To us, Mr. Kerry's comments meant that no one should do to Mr. Murtha that which Mr. Kerry did to all of us and our fellow Vietnam veterans, living and dead. Mr. Kerry's disgraceful comments on many occasions in 1971 (while we were locked in combat), claiming falsely that we were "murdering" hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese and committing rape and mayhem on a daily basis, are a part of the public record for which he has never apologized. This might be called "Kerrying" our soldiers.

In his own strange way, in his recent comments, Mr. Kerry was trying by implication to compare himself to Mr. Murtha - the gravest of insults to Mr. Murtha, who was given a standing ovation by the House of Representatives (which then properly buried his immediate pullout suggestion 403-3). Mr. Murtha's long military record stands in stark contrast with Mr. Kerry's continuous self-promotion of his short and controversial service in our unit. More importantly, Mr. Murtha has never compared our troops in the field - now or then - to the "Army of Genghis Khan" or claimed our adversaries, whether the bloody communists and Khmer Rouge or the butchers of Al Qaeda, were simply democratic reformers.

Kerry, along with his fellow Democrats are desirous of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The kindest explanation for this is that they are all a bunch of idiots.

If I were less kind, I might remark that this attitude is extremely ironic, particularly now that the fledgling Iraqi government sees an end in sight for American troops in Iraq, that the desperate Democrats' motivation for such idiotic behavior has to do with their intense need to discredit President and his "quagmire"-- no matter what the cost to America or the troops-- for their own political gain.

No one in the U.S.-- or in Iraq-- wants an interminable occupation. But despite what the Democrats would have you believe, neither the Iraqi people nor the American troops fighting there for democracy and freedom, believe that the battle is hopeless or unwinnable. In fact, many believe that troops will be able to come home in the next year.

But as Mark Steyn puts it so clearly and bluntly:

Happily for Mr Zarqawi, no matter how desperate the head-hackers get, the Western defeatists can always top them. A Democrat Congressman, Jack Murtha, has called for immediate US withdrawal from Iraq. He's a Vietnam veteran, so naturally the media are insisting that his views warrant special deference, military experience in a war America lost being the only military experience the Democrats and the press value these days. Hence, the demand for the President to come up with an "exit strategy".

In war, there are usually only two exit strategies: victory or defeat. The latter's easier. Just say, whoa, we're the world's pre-eminent power but we can't handle an unprecedently low level of casualties, so if you don't mind we'd just as soon get off at the next stop.

Demonstrating the will to lose as clearly as America did in Vietnam wasn't such a smart move, but since the media can't seem to get beyond this ancient jungle war it may be worth underlining the principal difference: Osama is not Ho Chi Minh, and al-Qa'eda are not the Viet Cong. If you exit, they'll follow. And Americans will die - in foreign embassies, barracks, warships, as they did through the Nineties, and eventually on the streets of US cities, too.

And when we do finally hand over all aspects of security to the Iraqis in the not too distant future, I simply can't wait to hear the Democrats rush to take credit for the Bush Administration's incredible successes in Iraq (and Afghanistan and the Middle East in general)and for the unprecedently (and historically) low level of casualties. They voted for the war, you know, before they voted against it.

Failure is an orphan, but success has many fathers.

UPDATE: Max Boot (hat tip: Instapundit) in the LA Times:

WHEN IT COMES to the future of Iraq, there is a deep disconnect between those who have firsthand knowledge of the situation — Iraqis and U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq — and those whose impressions are shaped by doomsday press coverage and the imperatives of domestic politics.

A large majority of the American public is convinced that the liberation of Iraq was a mistake, while a smaller but growing number thinks that we are losing and that we need to pull out soon. Those sentiments are echoed by finger-in-the-wind politicians, including many — such as John Kerry, Harry Reid, John Edwards, John Murtha and Bill Clinton — who supported the invasion.

Yet in a survey last month from the U.S.-based International Republican Institute, 47% of Iraqis polled said their country was headed in the right direction, as opposed to 37% who said they thought that it was going in the wrong direction. And 56% thought things would be better in six months. Only 16% thought they would be worse.

American soldiers are also much more optimistic than American civilians. The Pew Research Center and the Council on Foreign Relations just released a survey of American elites that found that 64% of military officers are confident that we will succeed in establishing a stable democracy in Iraq. The comparable figures for journalists and academics are 33% and 27%, respectively. Even more impressive than the Pew poll is the evidence of how our service members are voting with their feet. Although both the Army and the Marine Corps are having trouble attracting fresh recruits — no surprise, given the state of public opinion regarding Iraq — reenlistment rates continue to exceed expectations. Veterans are expressing their confidence in the war effort by signing up to continue fighting.

Now, it could be that the Iraqi public and the U.S. armed forces are delusional. Maybe things really are on an irreversible downward slope. But before reaching such an apocalyptic conclusion, stop to consider why so many with firsthand experience have more hope than those without any.

As a professional who deals with delusions all the time, I have to give somewhat more credence to people who know what they are talking about; rather than people whose conscious or unconscious agendas depend on the U.S. losing in Iraq. The latter group is responding to internal stimuli, not to reality.


Check out this post at One Cosmos about the logopathology of the left. Here's short excerpt:

When liberals accuse you of suppressing their freedom of speech, it means that you are criticizing them, or perhaps even censoring them. But when you censor conservatives or suppress their freedom of speech, it is called a speech code. Calling President Bush a liar is a courageous act of speaking truth to power, while criticizing the liberal stance on the war is questioning their patriotism.

It is well worth your while to read the entire post. More logopathology here.(hat tip: gumshoe)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Diagnosis: Senatitis

Dymphna, besides sharing posting duties over at the Gates of Vienna with Baron Bodissey, also posts at her own blog, The Neighborhood of God. Her latest post is about acute and chronic Senatitis:

The first thing the practiced diagnostician notices about Senatitis is an inflamed ego. Another symptom is the tendency to speak boiler plate, even in the men’s room. The flight from reality differs in velocity depending on how long an individual member of this ‘club’ has been in office, but at its extremes you find Senators naming office buildings after themselves or proposing pork riders to bills already so laden with fat that they’re about to die from obesity.

You will have to read the rest, but Dr. Dymphna thinks a vaccine might work. For the short-term I might suggest a mood stabilizer in combination with a spine-straightening procedure.

Pre-War Intelligence and Ex Post Facto Stupidity

Andy McCarthy at The Corner discusses and article in the WSJ (registration required) about an ongoing investigation of the possibility that Muhammed Atta was in Prague prior to 9/11 and the entire Iraq-9/11 connection. He concludes with:

This is Able Danger all over again. The "Atta in Prague" possibility never fit the 9/11 Commission’s narrative, so it was buried with a shoddy, slap-dash investigation -- the same treatment Able Danger got; the same treatment the Clinton Justice Department's dramatic heightening of "the wall" between criminal investigators and intelligence agents got; the same treatment the internal assessment of the Clinton administration's performance in the run-up to the Millennium bombing plot got, and so on.

Meanwhile, in 1998 alone, we have $300K going from Iraq to Zawahiri (al Qaeda’s number 2); bin Laden’s famous February fatwa calling for the murder of all Americans and prominently featuring, as part of the justification, U.S. actions against Iraq; meetings in Iraq between Qaeda members and Iraqi officials in March; meetings in Afghanistan between Iraqi officials and al Qaeda leaders in July; the embassy bombings in August, after which, of all potential targets, the Clinton administration chose to retaliate against al Shifa, believed to be an Iraq/Qaeda joint weapons venture; an Iraqi member of al Qaeda (now held in Guantanamo Bay) traveling with Iraqi Intelligence to Pakistan to plot chemical mortar attacks on the American and British embassies there; and Iraq seeking to recruit Arab terrorists to blow up Radio Free Europe. Oh, and in February 1999, Richard Clarke objected to a suggestion that U-2 flights be used to try to find bin Laden because, if bin Laden learned the walls were closing in, Clarke wrote to Sandy Berger that “old wiley Usama will likely boogie to Baghdad.”

But the anti-war left is probably right. There was no connection between Iraq and terrorism. None at all. I don’t know why the right-wing nuts keep insisting there was.

Read both the WSJ article and McCarthy's discussion, which is right on target.

McCarthy's sarcasm notwithstanding, the "rightwing nuts" keep insisting that there was a likely connection for a very simple reason. In a case like this (i.e., Saddam, WMD, and possible connections to 9/11) it is better to err on the side of protecting and defending the U.S. and its citizens, since the evidence, while circumstantial, is (and was) both suggestive and compelling.

Intelligence data and analysis-- and the frequent need to make critical decisions based on less than perfect information-- is not at all similar to a jury's deliberations in a court of law. In the latter case, information and the criteria with which to assess evidence and connect dots is held to a higher standard, because the crime has already been committed. You are not, after all, trying to "prove" Saddam guilty of having weapons of mass destruction in a court of law; you are trying to assess the potential risk posed by his megalomaniacal behavior and technical capability based on whatever information is available and prevent him from using them.

Think of the consequences if you dismiss intelligence that overwhelmingly suggests one thing because there are a few dissenters in the intelligence community who disagree with the findings. If those findings relate to WMD or other serious threats to your country, which side would a competent leader want to err on?

Better yet, ask yourself which side would you like the President to err on if it was your life--or your family's-- that was at risk?

This is not a "theoretical" discussion. It is exactly what the current adminsitration had to grapple with after 9/11 and the death of 3000 Americans in an act of war. The choices and decisions that were made at that time were the best that could be made based on what we knew then--and I believe what we know now only further confirms the appropriateness of the decisions that were made.

And footnotes in intelligence report summaries; or commissions that ignore what doesn't fit their predetermined template; or revisionists from previous adminstrations will not change that fundamental point.


Thanks to commenter Sizzle for calling it to my attention, I read for the first time an editorial from May, 2004 by Robert Alt, titled "The Liberals' Creed".

Since almost every aspect of the "creed" revealed by Alt's essay remains holy writ for the Democrats and the Left to this day; and since the hyperreligiosity of their position-- which relies on feelings and emotions rather than facts or reason--eludes any attempt to be reasonable with them; and since their accusations are as persistent and repetitive as someone afflicted with Tourette's Syndrome (thanks to another commenter for that analogy!), I thought I would reproduce the entire column , because it is so perfectly captures the Leftist mindset:

Kirkuk, Iraq—For all the talk about a widening religiosity gap between the right and the left, sentiment from the left indicates a certain religious fervor about the war in Iraq. A string of recent letters and articles from those of a more liberal persuasion suggest that they choose to ignore or simply do not believe information which is inconsistent with their basic tenets. Theirs is a policy of faith, and here is their creed.

We believe in the United Nations, and Kofi Annan, the maker of international legitimacy.

We believe that the UN inspections worked.
We believe that SCUD missiles fired at U.S. troops minutes after the war began don’t change anything;
We believe that 3 liters of sarin gas used against U.S. troops doesn’t change anything;
We believe that finding evidence of mustard gas doesn’t change anything.

We believe that the war in Iraq conducted by a Republican president was unjustified because it lacked UN approval;
We believe that the "military action" in Kosovo conducted by a Democratic president was justified without UN approval.

We believe that the Iraq war was unilateral.
We believe that the participation of Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Georgia, Honduras, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom, and Ukraine does not change the fact that the war was unilateral;
We believe that multilateralism can only be achieved with the participation of France and Germany;
We believe in multilateralism.

We believe that this war was motivated by greed and oil;
We believe that when France, Germany, and Russia opposed the war, they were motivated by principle, and not by sweetheart oil deals or Oil-For-Food kickbacks;
We believe that US oil prices are too high, and that the administration failed in its responsibility to do something about it.

We believe that the U.S. may only legitimately use force for humanitarian ends in one place if it does so in all places where aid might be needed;
We believe that the U.S. may not quell threats in places where the cost is relatively low unless it is willing to use force in places like North Korea, where the cost in lives would likely be very high;
We believe that a humanitarian action is only truly humanitarian if there are no strategic interests to muddle the altruism.

We believe that President Bush lied.
We believe that Prime Minister Blair lied.
We believe that when Hillary Clinton and Dick Gephardt voted for the war based on the same intelligence relied upon by Bush and Blair, they made reasonable decisions based on the intelligence available at the time.

We believe that the administration did not make the case for war;
We believe that the administration offered many different reasons but could not offer a coherent message explaining the need to go to war;
We believe that the administration made perfectly clear that the only reason we were going to war was because of the threat from WMDs.

We believe that there were no WMDs.
We believe that finding sarin gas is 14th page news;
We believe that if the sarin gas is old, then it really isn’t a WMD we were looking for;
We believe that it wasn’t really sarin gas;
We believe that sarin gas isn’t necessarily a WMD.

We believe that there was no terrorist connection to, or threat from, Iraq.
We believe that members of Abu Nidal in Iraq would not have committed terrorist acts if we had not invaded;
We believe that al Qaeda operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi would not have committed terrorist acts if we had not invaded;
We believe that Saddam’s terrorist training camp at Salman Pak—complete with a Boeing 707 plane used for hijacking drills—did not exist or posed no real threat;
We believe that it was merely a coincidence that the pharmaceutical factory bombed by President Clinton in Sudan was using al Qaeda funds and a uniquely Iraqi formula to produce VX gas;
We believe that we are responsible for bringing terror on ourselves.

We believe that the prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib is widespread and is probably the tip of the iceberg;
We believe that Abu Ghraib proves that the America’s occupation is no different than Saddam’s tyranny;
We believe that any attempt to suggest that there is a moral difference between a regime which systematically killed 300,000 people and tortured countless others and a regime which punished the acts of Abu Ghraib is illegitimate.

We believe that soldiers deliberately target women and children;
We believe that the soldiers abuse and kill Iraqis because they are racists;
We support our troops.

We believe that no one should question our statement that we "support our troops;"
We believe that the best thing that could happen for this country would be for Bush to lose in November;
We believe that the best way for Bush to lose in November is for the Iraq effort to go poorly, even if that means that more Iraqis and troops will die;
We believe that most of the troops are minorities and the poor;
We believe that when the word "heroes" is used to describe our troops, it should always be enclosed in scare quotes.

We believe in quagmire.
We believe that when fringe Iraqi groups attack hard targets and are soundly defeated with relatively low Coalition casualties, that this is inescapable evidence of crisis;
We believe that Iraq is Bush’s Vietnam.

We believe that Vietnam is the lens through which all wars should be viewed.
We believe that soldiers in Vietnam were baby killers;
We believe that John Kerry is a hero for his service in Vietnam.

We believe that because John Kerry is a hero, he necessarily has the national security expertise necessary to be commander-in-chief.
We believe that any attempt to question his national security expertise based on his voting record, including his decision to vote against a supplemental bill used to buy the soldiers body armor, is an unfair attack on the patriotism of a hero, who by virtue of this honorific has the expertise to be commander-in-chief.

We believe in the trinity: NPR, CNN, and the New York Times. We believe in Ted Kennedy, Tom Harkin, John Kerry, and all the DNC, and we look for President Clinton yet to come. Amen.

Just absolutely perfect.

"Moral Exhibitionism"

Yes...that is exactly the phrase to describe those intellectual lightweights currently proselytizing about torture. And it likewise can apply to ridiculous position of claiming that the U.S. is using "chemical" weapons in Iraq.

Since the people who make these claims lack any moral compass whatsoever and have only one priority -- to undermine the U.S.--it is grandstanding of ludicrous proportions.

Scratch the surface of a moral exhibitionist, and you will find an opportunistic idealogue who actually believes in nothing and stands for nothing.

It is yet another example of intellectual and moral bankruptcy combined with malignant narcissism.

And make no mistake. Their agenda is definitely malignant.

UPDATE: Tsk. Tsk. More moral grandstanding based on lies, distortion, and just plain ignorance of the facts. Confederate Yankee has the scoop. Could it be that the underlying agenda is to say anything just to "get Bush"? Or how about these outrageous claims, eagerly (and uncritically) picked up by the usual gang of Bush haters. Somewhat more sane (if outraged) commentary here.

I expect to see a headline any minute now that claims President Bush puts little puppies into blenders and drinks them, just like Glenn Reynolds. News at 11:00.