Wednesday, May 30, 2007

their sense of fair play, humanity or reason

Uranus:
"In this post's comments Steve makes the compelling argument that just because we haven't found our way to the overwhelming rationale which makes the case for peace doesn't mean it can't be done, and meanwhile we shouldn't take the low road and resort to thuggishness or hit the streets, threaten people and so forth.

I thought about that long and hard.

I guess I've read most every self-help book I can find about how to deal with crazy people who are bent on your destruction for no reason. I tried putting that advice to work, because I've dealt with that much challenge since I was able to take my meals from a high chair.

I also have the ability to develop my own strategies, and am more than willing to listen to advice, and give it the old college try. I've tried anything and everything short of opening fire, and none of it worked.

I came to a partial conclusion, and it applies to the democrats in Congress as well as to myself. If you think there is any possible rationale or set of reasons you can propose that will persuade people bent on destruction to change their thinking or behavior, you are just mistaken, badly and completely.

Furthermore, you can stop thinking in those terms, because it just isn't going to work. And, any solution that actually works is probably only temporary, because nature has a way of making new people who think they're on a mission of destruction.

Bush and Cheney believe they can own and run the world by destroying it with nuclear weapons, effectively exterminating the human race. Do you really think some argument is going to just pop out of thin air and change their minds? It isn't, and the sooner people understand all that, the sooner they can start thinking in other terms. I already made the very self-evident statement that a world destroyed by nuclear weapons isn't worth having; however, that's just whistling in the wind. People don't really believe that's what's going on, and somehow think that even if it is, the day after global thermonuclear warfare, "we will rebuild."

No, we won't. There won't be any we. A thick, black cloud of radioactive dust will encircle the earth, keeping things dead for a long time. Then, it will deposit onto the surface, to be overlaid by strata of sediment deposited by water, wind and vulcanism, to record when human life on earth ended for anyone who might come looking, if ever. The Bush administration hopes to make this happen, and they are afraid they're running out of time.

If people in the world believed that, the conversation about war funding would take a very different tone. But people don't believe that. They still believe Bush tells the truth, and Cheney is a wise old soul and, working together, they are doing their best to protect America from the evil forces that want to blow up our buildings and steal our oil.

I can't say I know it will happen. But there can be little doubt in anyone's mind that America's extreme right thinks nuclear world war is inevitable, and a good thing, too, because it will establish America's rule for all time. They can't get to that point soon enough: the hope is Bush and Cheney will deliver any minute.

No one will come along and appeal to their sense of fair play, humanity or reason with words or even actions. I'm out of practical suggestions, so let me offer some pathetic recommendations. Awareness. Ridicule. Humiliation. Prosecution. Punishment. Behavior modification and genetic drug therapy. Perseverence. Vigilance. In the meantime, I hope greater minds than mine will come up with something better."

10 comments:

«—U®Anu§—» said...

Aw, thanks for that. I spared all of you this precious gem.

A vacuum of leadership has broken the process. It used to be I could write to my guys in Congress, the laughingstock lawmakers of the world, and they'd read it, think about it. Not anymore. Last week proved Washington truly resides in a bubble. All the casework that can be done, all the evidence and proof, doesn't matter. Unfortunately, regrettably, sadly, mournfully, we have the measure of last resort left. We've gone down every avenue. Those options aren't in play now.

steven andresen said...

Ur@nus said,

"...Bush and Cheney believe they can own and run the world by destroying it with nuclear weapons, effectively exterminating the human race. Do you really think some argument is going to just pop out of thin air and change their minds? It isn't, and the sooner people understand all that, the sooner they can start thinking in other terms."

One of the reasons Ur@nus has for saying this is that the people involved have too many personal problems. He says,

"...I guess I've read most every self-help book I can find about how to deal with crazy people who are bent on your destruction for no reason."

He believes they're crazy and they do things irrationally.

I can sympathize with Ur@nus about the seeming impossibility of changing things for the better. The President does seem like he's bound and determined to kill the planet in order to save it. This just makes him and all his administration seem like brain-dead flesh eating zombies tearing around, about to feast on the Iranians next.

There's a lot to comment on about the way that Ur@nus seems to be thinking about our predicament. This issue is separate from what we might do to change the world.

Well, maybe it's not so separate.

For some reason, Ur@nus appealed to self-help books to give him insight into how to deal with the problem people in his life. I've read some of that material, however, I've decided that a better teacher is philosophy. So, from that, I'd have to ask Ur@nus to reconsider his thinking about Bush and Cheney.

For one thing, I don't think we can start off saying they're crazy and they are bent on our destruction for no reason.

Descartes came to the conclusion that he could not know whether he was awake or asleep and hence that he knew anything at all about himself or the world around him. He thought that this might have made him crazy, like the people who thought they had heads of pumpkins, and so forth, but instead he thought that his bizarre conclusion came from something going on in his argument. Basically, he thought he had good reasons at the time for thinking he knew nothing, but he promised himself he was going to re-examine what he thought again, and again, to see where there might be error.

Personally, I think Bush and Cheney do think they must kill the planet in order to save it. The problem with their thinking is not that they are crazy, like people who think they have pumpkin heads, but they have something deeply wrong in how they're thinking of things.

Now, I think we should stay away from ad hominem attacks on the President. It wastes our time, ...although it might be entertaining for awhile. It would be better to try to ferret out what he and his advisers are thinking here.

Ur@nus argues that arguments have not and will not work. He's tried, he says,

"...Do you really think some argument is going to just pop out of thin air and change their minds? It isn't, and the sooner people understand all that, the sooner they can start thinking in other terms. I already made the very self-evident statement that a world destroyed by nuclear weapons isn't worth having; however, that's just whistling in the wind. People don't really believe that's what's going on, and somehow think that even if it is, the day after global thermonuclear warfare, "we will rebuild."

No, we won't. There won't be any we."

Ur@nus tells us a lot here, but he doesn't seem to support very well what he's claiming.

It seems to me that there probably isn't one magic bullet argument that's going to turn the boat around before we hit the proverbial iceberg. He sort of makes the whole idea of arguing look ridiculous by supposing such a thing. I imagine we've gotten ourselves into this predicament over the course of our civilization's lifetime, it isn't just an innovation of the Bush administration to kill people for a good cause.

In listening to Ur@nus, I hear pretty much what the other side says. To Bush, it is almost treasonous to talk to the Iranians because they are irrational so and so's. Ur@nus tells us talking anymore with Bushites seems to him to be pointless. I suspect both sides have conceded that since argument is futile, anyone's only recourse is force.

So, I imagine that the people who are rabidly leading us to war with Iran, et al, have some argument. They believe, I suspect, that they have very good arguments hammered together by smart thinkers that the peace of the world depends on them rooting out the zombie hords now massing their forces in the weapon-plants of Persia. In addition, they see people like Ur@nus as dangerous fifth columnists bound to weaken civilization from the inside.

Now, how does Ur@nus plan to challenge people who think like this? If he doesn't go at them with an argument, because arguments are futile, suppose, then isn't he advocating we just become the fifth columnists that the Bushies suppose that we are.

Does Ur@nus think we might be able to plant a bomb in Hitler's bunker?

The success of this kind of thinking assumes that the people behind Hitler or Castro or Bush, et al, would not be worse from our point of view.

Instead, I don't think anything but an argument is going to help.

So, why does Ur@nus think that Bush is crazy or that an argument directed at each and every point they make wouldn't help to rout their armies?

Why does Bush think that he cannot resolve conflicts with the Iranians, or Iraqis, short of using force?

steven andresen said...

Ur@nus,

I think there's more to be said about what is actually going on that might make things less bleak. I am not in a position to discover these things myself, so I have to rely on what I read in these funny papers. So, here, we hear that the Dems haven't been that bad,

"...The Feingold and McGovern amendments both provided that a troop redeployment out of Iraq begin within a set number of days after the passage of the bill. These were tougher than the timetable bill, in other words. In the Senate, 29 out of 51 Democratic senators voted yes. In the House, 169 out of 233 Democrats voted yes. A glorious total of two Republicans in the entire Congress voted yes.

Yet some twit commenting on Think Progress wrote We can’t even get Democrats to vote for timetables. Unfortunately, I think this notion is common among a large lump of people who passionately hate the war but aren’t paying close attention to what’s actually happening in Washington to end it.

Further, the concept of overriding a veto seems to elude some people. Bush has just said he wants a South Korea style presence - superbases and fifty years. What makes anyone think he’ll listen to 25 Republicans? If 25 Senate Republicans voted with the Dems, that would be more than enough to override Bush’s veto in the Senate. By law, Bush would have to comply if Congress overrode a veto. If he didn’t — well, that’s never happened before. It could get interesting.

I agree there’s plenty of reason to criticize the Dems, but it worries me when large numbers of “progressives” develop knee-jerk antipathy toward the Dems. This is not helpful.

There’s a middle way between mindless boosterism and mindlessly assuming the worst. This middle way has two steps: First, be informed. Second, think.

I get the impression that some people think it’s “cool” to run down the Dems or to declare that they’re just like Republicans. Certainly, when Dems do something stupid, speak up. But at the same time, give credit where credit is due. How many people out there really don’t understand that the Dems did vote to end the war? How many don’t understand that the timetables didn’t become law because Bush vetoed it, and there aren’t enough Dems to override a veto? Given the way Dems and Republicans voted on the recent appropriation bills, anyone who says the biggest problem in Washington is the Democrats or that the two parties are Two hemorrhoids, both part of the same a$$hole is being a big-time asshole himself. He’s also standing in the way of the only hope we have of enacting real progressive policy sometime in the future."

Found here,

http://www.mahablog.com/2007/05/30/a-jerking-knee-is-no-substitute-for-a-thinking-brain/#comments

I cannot tell if this piece actually dispells your pessimism. But, getting into such a discussion might. At least Mahablog thinks things are not as bad as some would have us think.

Kax said...

Yes, the Dems did not have enough votes to override a veto, but they could have sent him the same bill till he did sign it.

They knew, going in, that they couldn't ovveride a veto so they should have had a strategy to back up their talk tough crapola. If they had no intention of fighting a veto procedurally, they shouldn't have falsely raised hopes. This is what brought the blowback.

Frankly, I think their whole approach was bound to fail because for, the life of them, they cannot use the English language to their own advantage. They should not have used any words which could be construed to mean "cutting and running" or surrender dates.

They should have come out in supoport of the Iraqi Parliament's proposed peace plan, which included an agreement with the Sunnis to lay down their arms, if we withdrew wirhin two years.

How is reaching a peace accord with the newly elected government going to be misconstrued to mean surrender? I would love to have seen the Repugs argue that one. Would have been much harder to explain rejecting the peace plan without admitting an intention to remain there permanently.

lukery said...

good comments, all.

SteveA - I commend your efforts to try to be productive and reasonable. It's a lot more likely to inch us toward a resolution to these crises.

Yet, it seems as though the system is totally broken, the rules don't count, and the processes don't work. After 6 years of this nightmare, it's difficult to imagine that changing. (of course, screaming into the void is most unlikely to be effective, either)

I saw Al Gore on Lehrer tonight, and he again reiterated that in 2000, the decision was either succumb to what is called 'the rule of law' and 'violent revolution' - i don't think he knows whether we took the right path.

yes, there are costs with 'violent revolution', and there are costs with delaying a 'violent revolution' (assuming, of course, that 'violent revolution' is at some point inevitable)

one problem with the Dems is not just that they appear weak and ineffectual, but we don't even know that they are on the side of light. the latter possibility is much worse.

lukery said...

Kax - yep, yep and yep.

damien said...

Uranus, I was happy to try and cheer you up over at Cowboy today, but I have to say I wasn't impressed. Some ideas have the potential to discredit or draw negative attention to a web site, even legal attention. Sorry if that sounds harsh. I just thought some of your stuff didn't really help. But I wish you well. Keep up the good work you're doing here.

steven andresen said...

luke said,

"...I saw Al Gore on Lehrer tonight, and he again reiterated that in 2000, the decision was either succumb to what is called 'the rule of law' and 'violent revolution' - i don't think he knows whether we took the right path."

I did not see Gore on Lehrer. From what you said here, though, it seemed he understood that the election had been stolen. He might have been able to make a case if he had wanted. But, he figured he had two options only. He could either go along with the result as he was given it by the Bush people, knowing they had stolen the election, or he could have taken a course that would have inevitably lead to violence in the streets.

Is this why politicians on the left never do anything in this country?

They always think that doing something will get lots of people killed?

So, people on the Warren Commission planned to cover it up because if the general population knew that the assassination of their President was an inside job, then, they figured, there would be blood in the streets and we can't have that.

We can't challenge the efforts of republican operatives to steal elections because why? Democrats do the same things? The people who steal elections whether dem or rep are not against killing large numbers of Americans if it means preserving their hold on power?

Do we go along with making the 9-11 murders into some bogus act of war by foreigners when there were obvious questions about who had to be involved on the inside because to open up those questions would have lead to blood in the streets?

I do not think that fighting in the streets can get us anywhere where we want to be. So, I am very interested in finding some third alternative between "rule by gangsters" and the "blood in the streets" options Gore sees for us.

Did anyone ask Gore whether he thought the consequences to the country of his acquiecence to the coup would be worse than if he had decided to stand up for something? He could have just stated the facts as he saw them. Maybe he could have argued that we should not let the coup stand, nor should we start shooting up the place.

Did anyone ask him whether he thought that if the Bush people could have stolen the election, as he seems to have conceded, that they could have planned and carried out all that came afterward?

When the election in Mexico was stolen just recently, and the people were in the streets, there was not great bloodshed. Did Gore think that he couldn't risk even that kind of confrontation? What would he have been afraid of, that the government and the gangsters would have capitulated? That there would not have been enough people concerned about an honest election showing up. Does he think people basically go along with gangster rule and he doesn't want to expose that fact?

I could go on with my questioning. I will not consider Gore for any elected office unless I hear some kind of better excuse for what he did.

«—U®Anu§—» said...

That's the spirit! Notice how this conversation evolved? Damien, I wasn't depressed about the war funding vote, but I was highly annoyed. It was an opportunity to air a lot of dirty laundry, but the conversation ended with capitulation. If I were in Congress, I'd have been getting my colleagues out of bed and working around the clock to encourage them to extend the discussion, even though it might not have changed the result. I agree with Kucinich, they had the choice of simply not drafting another funding bill.

Steve, I didn't mean to pick on you, I thought your previous comments were thoughtful. You spoke in this thread of a third alternative. That's precisely what I've been thinking. There is such a splendid analogy to be drawn between slash and burn politics and my community's cat population explosion. I hate talking about it; so, here I go again. Our town adopted some legislation aimed at exterminating cats at large. In my neighborhood there are people killing them in large numbers. I adopted three, and one has been shot twice in the last year. I still haven't gone to the authorities. I spoke with a woman at HSUS, and she referred me to a lady at our shelter who's a supervisor and a police captain; but, she said, read this whole book I'll send you first before you go meet with her. Holy smoke, I got this book, and it's only 90 pages, but anything but light reading. It's a nuts-and-bolts practical guide to establishing a community trap-neuter-return program. I know in advance I'm going to encounter nothing but resistance when I begin to advocate, and although the book is easy reading, it's so full of information that absorbing it is daunting. But, it's all worthwhile because this kind of program is more effective than removal or extermination. Plus, it's humane. But, it requires resources and lots and lots of man hours over a period of years. I know the city won't help. The analogy is that American society will live under an oppressive despotism until there is a revolution of humanity. People must develop an automatic response to dealing with problems that is more conciliatory and less confrontational. That takes time and effort, and education, and it's a very hard sell. Previously, I thought a cursory review and a few visits with local authorities could make some significant but small changes. I was mistaken. Likewise, resolving the military misadventure and the larger dissolution of democracy in America is going to take time and real work, as a best-case scenario. But after last week, the picture looks pretty hopeless. Both sides of the aisle of Congress need to work a whole lot harder, because the White House thinks this is a dictatorship and they've gone deaf.

lukery said...

thnx steve.

fp'd