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Author Topic: Bridging the Partisan Divide: 21st Century Challenges and a Great National Discussion
Paladine
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I was channel surfing last night when I happened upon "Meet the Press" with Tim Russert. His first guest that evening was former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, one of my favorite politicians. There were several points outlined in the interesting discussion between the two; among these points was that the instruments of our national power, except for the military, are broken. Gingrich also said that the challenges we face as a nation are greater than at any time since the Civil War, and that a great many of them are issues upon which we can come together as Americans.

He said that we can't win in Iraq unless we have a serious bipartisan committment to victory, that pulling out would constitute a massive defeat but that it would be preferable to continuing to do things as we have. If we can't come together as Americans and make the difficult sacrifices that would be required to win at this late date (a massive increase in the amount of military personnel deployed, for starters), then we need to withdraw and suffer the consequences.

We face massive problems with respect to healthcare. Our State Department is in ruins (one point Gingrich made was that of the 1000+ employees at the US Embassy in Iraq, 33 speak Arabic, 8 fluently), as is Justice and our intelligence apparatus. These are issues well-meaning people on both sides of the aisle need to discuss in a civil, honest, and open atmosphere.

But the current political climate in Washington isn't such that this is possible. We're not pulling together in the face of the massive challenges before us, and it's going to spell disaster for our country unless we change course soon. We need to put aside the hot-button social issues for awhile and look at real problems that threaten our short and long term survival.

Overall I was once again tremendously impressed with Mr. Gingrich (who spoke very highly of Senator Obama and respectfully of Senator Clinton) and moved by the ideas he put forth. I hope the Democratic Congress holds hearings on these issues, not with an eye towards scoring political points against an administration they hate, but rather in order to provide real solutions to the real and grave problems we face. If they can do that, this Republican (and I suspect many others) will be thrilled to vote and work for their re-election.

We shouldn't have to appoint a blue-ribbon commission pannel of ex-politicians whenever we have a real problem. We need to start electing people whose character and judgment we can trust rather than people who tell us what they think we want to hear. We need to insist that politicians from both parties work together for the common good. Because at the end of the day, no matter how easy it might be to slam them, it isn't the politicians' fault. We the people are to blame for this atmosphere. Now's the time to change it; any ideas?

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Adam Masterman
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quote:
There were several points outlined in the interesting discussion between the two; among these points was that the instruments of our national power, except for the military, are broken. Gingrich also said that the challenges we face as a nation are greater than at any time since the Civil War, and that a great many of them are issues upon which we can come together as Americans.
Couple of points:

What does he mean by "broken"? I can think of several meanings, some of which are true and some aren't.

As for our challenges being greater than any other generation, thats just wrong. Right now we are in a transition period, with a good deal of uncertainty, but we are probably safer, securitywise, than we have ever been. Newt is one of a class of pundits who like to inflate the potential dangers of the war on terror because it suits their political purposes. However, when you analyize it, its complete tripe. There was a good chance of Japan defeating the U.S. in WWII. There is no chance of terrorists doing the same. Its not even the same magnitude of a conflict. The same could be said compared to WWI. The WOT simply isn't the dramatic clash of civilizations that pundits like Newt wish it were.

Also, how seriously am I to take a call for open debate from a guy who insists that anyone criticising the war is providing aid and comfort to the enemy? Open debate of only those positions Newt finds acceptible isn't what I mean when I use the term "open debate". Its pretty hypocritical of Newt to claim to deplore the partisan atmosphere in Washington, of which he is one of the worst offenders. When he advised republican candidates to describe their opponents as "sick, corrupt traitors", how exactly did that elevate the discourse?

Adam

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Daruma28
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Adam,

Newt can play the game and still hate it and want it changed at the same time, no?

It's not as if Democrats have not done the same either...hell, Nancy Pelosi campaigned on "ending the culture of corruption" and immediately announced Alcee "Frozen Campaign Bribes in his Freezer" Hastings would be her first appointment once she took over as speaker.

Newt is right. Just because he also participates in the game of politics doesn't mean he cannot speak out against what is wrong with it.

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msquared
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Daruma

You have your congressmen mixed up. Alcee Hastings was not the one who was found with money in his freezer. That was Jefferson of LA.

And she did pass Hastings over for the chair he was in the running for, much to the distress of the Congressional Black Caucus(sp?).

I just wish the FBI would bring charges. If the guy is a guilty as the evidence seems to point, why the wait? Indict the guy and get along with the prosecution.

Hastings was never convicted, or maybe even chaged, with a criminal charge, but there was enough evidence to impeach him and, I think, convict him in the Senate.

msquared

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Everard
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"Just because he also participates in the game of politics doesn't mean he cannot speak out against what is wrong with it."

True. But I wonder if he recognizes whats wrong with what he does?

If you say "I screw up, and do this, and we should all do a better job of not doing it," thats a very different thing then saying "X is bad. Stop doing it," And then going and doing X.

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Daruma28
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Oh well...shows how much interest and attention I've been paying to the whole damn political scene as of late.

My heart is just not into it that much anymore...I used to watch FoxNews, CNN, MSNBC all the time. Now I don't even bother.

The whole point right now is that the Democrats have regained control of Congress, and we get the same old same old.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Fact remains, Pelosi ran against the culture of corruption - than immediately announces intentions to appoint a congressmen who was literally caught with thousands of dollars in his freezer?

Republicrats or Democans, they all prove to be two sides of the same coin.

Newt is right, the system is broken. Politics used to end at the waters edge, especially during wartime.

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Everard
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Well, since one of the major questions these days is...

"Why did the president play politics by starting a war?"

It makes sense that politics doesn't stop because we're at war

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Daruma28
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And therein lies a big part of the problem Ev, you and others that disagreed with his decision called it "playing politics" right out of the gate...despite the fact that the majority of the Democrats that accused him of starting a war for politics sake all voted to authorize the use of force in the first place.

Then again, we don't really need to play this particular game again for the 144365575442135th time, do we?

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Paladine
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quote:
What does he mean by "broken"? I can think of several meanings, some of which are true and some aren't.
I'd say "in disrepair; not having the human and material resources they need to function properly; unable to adapt easily to changing times and challenges".

quote:
As for our challenges being greater than any other generation, thats just wrong. Right now we are in a transition period, with a good deal of uncertainty, but we are probably safer, securitywise, than we have ever been. Newt is one of a class of pundits who like to inflate the potential dangers of the war on terror because it suits their political purposes. However, when you analyize it, its complete tripe
Well, when I analyze it, I arrive at a very different conclusion. Does our military face as formidable an enemy as it did in the Axis powers? Certainly not! Is the threat to our *civilization* just as great (or greater)? In my view, it is.

Imagine the effect a few more attacks like 9/11 or greater would have on this country. It would become a police state. 9/11 alone produced the PATRIOT Act and Guantanamo Bay, extraordinary rendition, circumvention of FISA, terror alert levels, a war in Afghanistan, and a multitude of other major consequences. If attacks on that order of magnitude take place again on any kind of regular basis, this country will rapidly become a police state.

It's pointless to discuss whether people should give up a multitude of essential freedoms and liberties in the face of terror. But when people see bombs exploding in the streets or nerve gas released in the subways they take to work, this is precisely what they're going to do. And the government, whether Republican or Democrat, will take every scrap of power we hand over and never give it back.

The threat in this war comes not only (or even primarily) from those who would do us harm, but from what our reaction would be in order to prevent that harm and alleviate the fear which follows as a consequence of it. No, Islamic terrorists are not going to kill us all. But if you don't think they pose a very real, credible threat to our way of life, you need to open your eyes.

But the War on Terror isn't the only challenge we face, not by a longshot. China and India, already regional superpowers, are quickly gaining in strength and influence. Our industrial sector's been outsourced, we face a crippling national debt, our image around the world is broken, we have a healthcare crisis, major problems with the solvency of social security and medicare, the most polarized political environement in recent memory, a crisis in education...the list goes on and on and on and on. Our challenges are greater than those faced by any generation since the Civil War not in that we're at greater risk for destruction, but in that we have more (and more difficult) serious problems which aren't simply, and certainly not easily solved.

quote:
There was a good chance of Japan defeating the U.S. in WWII. There is no chance of terrorists doing the same. Its not even the same magnitude of a conflict.
Hogwash. After Hitler invaded Russia and Japan bombed Pearl Harbor the war was decided; the Axis bit off entirely more than it could chew. This is a separate debate though, and one I'll be happy to have on another thread should you please. But no, this isn't the same sort of conflict as World War II. The problems it poses are greater in some ways and lesser in others.

quote:
Also, how seriously am I to take a call for open debate from a guy who insists that anyone criticising the war is providing aid and comfort to the enemy? Open debate of only those positions Newt finds acceptible isn't what I mean when I use the term "open debate".
Gingrich called the war in Iraq a "failure" on Meet the Press, and said that the President had to do the same if he wanted to move forward. That very strong language doesn't constitute "criticism" in your mind? How about when he lambasted the strategy for the occupation? Saying that we needed to keep the Iraqi regular military or send in a ton more soldiers? Saying that stubbornness is not a strategy and that we're going to lose this thing if we don't change course? This is VERY strong criticism. But I suspect that's not the type of "criticism" you're talking about.

I suspect that by "criticism" you mean saying that we went to war for oil, Halliburton, Bush's daddy, or whatever the conspiracy theorist line is. I suspect you mean saying or implying that President Bush lied, that he pressured other people to lie, that we were deceived. You might believe these things, but I don't, and I think that the political atmosphere this kind of rhetoric produces is toxic.

How can you deal in good faith with someone as you accuse them of lying to get you into a war for the purpose of driving up profits at the pump? The evidence doesn't support these charges, and they make moving forward in a cooperative, bipartisan fashion utterly impossible. And yes, they also give comfort and aid to our enemies. People who say this sort of thing might not WANT to give good PR to those who fight against us in the WoT, but the fact that they DO that is beyond debate or dispute. I suspect that's what Speaker Gingrich meant.

quote:
Its pretty hypocritical of Newt to claim to deplore the partisan atmosphere in Washington, of which he is one of the worst offenders. When he advised republican candidates to describe their opponents as "sick, corrupt traitors", how exactly did that elevate the discourse?
Whether or not something is hypocritical has never much mattered to me; I'm much more concerned with whether or not it's right. One of my friends called me a hypocrite for not letting him drive drunk after I'd wrecked my car by doing the same. I still didn't give him back his keys and I think I was right to do so.

But putting aside that tangential point, Newt did a lot to elevate the discourse in Washington. He made the 1994 campaign one of *ideas* to a much greater extent than any previous midterm election in my memory. The Contract with America was a clear exposition of coherent ideas whereby the Republican majority proposed to govern. It was a set of positive goals and ideas to be debated and discussed.

Since leaving Congress he's worked closely with everyone from Rumsfeld to Hillary to Bush to Kennedy on a broad range of important issues. He speaks respectfully of people across the political spectrum. Was he always this way as minority whip and Speaker? No, certainly he wasn't.

Those were different times, and I suspect he's matured a bit. We didn't face the sort of challenges then that we did now; there wasn't as great a need for unity. He was trying to wrest power from a party which had controlled Congress for the past 40 years. I don't mean to say that the man didn't do wrong back then. I do mean to say that it was a far lesser wrong than we've seen committed by people on both sides of the aisle since, and that he did a lot of good things as Speaker.

You should take his call to open debate seriously because he's putting forth good questions and good solutions. He's calling for a campaign of ideas rather than two sides putting on their armor and hurling mud at each other. You might not like the messanger, but what about his message?

[ December 19, 2006, 04:33 PM: Message edited by: Paladine ]

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TommySama
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Perhaps one of the best written posts I've seen on OA. Why aren't you running for president, man, you'd win!


"That was Jefferson of LA."

I thought it was Jefferson of New Orleans [FootInMouth]

[ December 19, 2006, 04:50 PM: Message edited by: TommySama ]

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Daruma28
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Paladine for President? Only if he ran as the candidate from the Concorde Party... [LOL]
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Everard
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"Imagine the effect a few more attacks like 9/11 or greater would have on this country. It would become a police state. 9/11 alone produced the PATRIOT Act and Guantanamo Bay, extraordinary rendition, circumvention of FISA, terror alert levels, a war in Afghanistan, and a multitude of other major consequences."

Right. So its not a threat from other people. Its a threat from ourselves. If we react badly to 9/11, then certainly terrorism is a threat to us. But if we behave as mature, responsible adults? not so much.

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msquared
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Tommy
Not LA, Los Angeles, but LA as in Louisiana.

I had to ask my wife how to spell Louisiana. I was at work when I made the first post and am a lousy speller.

msquared

[ December 19, 2006, 06:48 PM: Message edited by: msquared ]

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Paladine
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quote:
Right. So its not a threat from other people. Its a threat from ourselves. If we react badly to 9/11, then certainly terrorism is a threat to us. But if we behave as mature, responsible adults? not so much.
Someone who was much smarter than I once said that any course of action planned with the assumption that people will act as they should rather than as they shall is doomed to failure. In a perfect world, terrorists wouldn't pose nearly as severe a threat to our way of life as they do. But that has very little to do with reality, and accordingly very little to do with how we ought to procede.
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Everard
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"But that has very little to do with reality, and accordingly very little to do with how we ought to procede."

So, in otherwords, we ought to plan for ourselves being idiots, when we could, instead, plan in such a way as to force us to be mature responsible adults?

Edit: Again, its not terrorists causing us to possiblly cease being the civilization we are. Its our own civilization pitted against our own civilization. Its an internal threat. And its of lesser magnitude then the threat we faced during world war II, when we went so far as to imprison people for being of the wrong nationality.

[ December 19, 2006, 08:00 PM: Message edited by: Everard ]

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Paladine
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quote:
So, in otherwords, we ought to plan for ourselves being idiots, when we could, instead, plan in such a way as to force us to be mature responsible adults?
No. But when planning for contingencies which will depend upon how people might act, we should take as our example how people have always reacted to similar events in the past rather than how you might hope they would. It seems like a matter of simple logic to me really.

Should everyone plan carefully for his retirement and save in advance for that date, or put away money in a medical insurance fund just in case they fall seriously ill? Should parents save for their childrens' education from birth so that it's paid for by college? Of course.

But good policy doesn't assume that everyone (or even most people) will behave responsibly. It assumes that people will continue to act how people have always acted, and consequently we have Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Pell Grants, Welfare, and a multitude of other programs enabled to essentially mitigate the effects of human stupidity.

I'm aware that there's more to these programs and the reasons underlying them than that, but I'm sure you can agree that part of the need for any government or government program is that people just don't act like they should. People should take care of themselves and each other. They shouldn't kill each other. They shouldn't steal or rape or destroy.

But they do. The reason we have a government at all is to protect us, in large measure from each other.

Edited to Add:

quote:
Again, its not terrorists causing us to possiblly cease being the civilization we are. Its our own civilization pitted against our own civilization. Its an internal threat
Well, allergies are an internal threat too. It's not the peanut that kills someone with a peanut allergy; it's the body's reaction to the stimulus. That doesn't mean that allergies can't be deadly and that an allergic person should down a bottle of peanut butter because his body's being illogical when it shreds itself as a response.

When reactions are predictable, you plan based upon them. You don't ignore them because they're foolish or unreasonable.

[ December 19, 2006, 08:54 PM: Message edited by: Paladine ]

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Daruma28
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It's quite clear that we have two competing schools of thought here.

1) There is a very real terrorist threat, and we need to do things to mitigate or eliminate that threat before it materializes into another attack like 9/11, killing alot more people.

2) There is no terrorist threat, or it is a very minor one. The real threat is a government that uses the spectre of terrorism to oppress it's citizens and take away our rights.

These two points of view are so diametrically opposed, I don't understand how the people that believe them could ever come to a consensus. What are the chances of Ev or I or Ev and Paladine ever coming to an agreement on the topic of this thread? Thus, this thread demonstrates perfectly why it is all but impossible for the current system of political partisanship and bickering to ever end unless/until one of those sides changes it's point of view regarding terrorism.

I suspect we are going to find out within the next few years or so which view is more correct, simply because of this:

The incoming Democrats like Pelosi and Leahy have talked about ending NSA wiretap programs, mitigating or getting rid of the Patriot act and other such things. If Ev's point of view is correct, we should be perfectly safe despite the dismantling of the programs and efforts put into place by the Bush Admin.

If Ev's point of view is wrong, compromising the programs and efforts to combat the real threat of terrorism will most likely result in a weakness that the terrorists can exploit, and thousands will most probably end up dead.

Ev, I just hope that you and those who believe as you do (there is no terrorist threat) are right, because if you're not, the cost will be terrible indeed.

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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by Daruma28:
These two points of view are so diametrically opposed, I don't understand how the people that believe them could ever come to a consensus. What are the chances of Ev or I or Ev and Paladine ever coming to an agreement on the topic of this thread?

The trick, something we strive for at the Concord Party is to start with what you agree upon. Consensus view doesn't happen because you compromise from two vastly separated points at the center of your views. It happens when you identify where your views intersect.

See Also: venn diagrams

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The Drake
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Incidentally, I believe there is a very real terrorist threat AND that the NSA eavesdropping and some provisions of the Patriot Act are wrong. Imagine that!

Do you know who else thinks so? Bob Bishop (R-UT). You know, the reddest of the red states?

Reject Bipolar Politics!

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Paladine
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Drake's so the man. [Wink]
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Godot
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Daruma,

One quibble with...

quote:
Originally posted by Daruma28:
The incoming Democrats like Pelosi and Leahy have talked about ending NSA wiretap programs....

That is incorrect. The Dems of whom you speak want to stop *warrantless* wiretapping. Horse of a different color.

Regarding this portion...

quote:
Originally posted by Daruma28:
If Ev's point of view is wrong, compromising the programs and efforts to combat the real threat of terrorism will most likely result in a weakness that the terrorists can exploit, and thousands will most probably end up dead.

At some point you have to draw the line between freedom and security. My personal belief is that we should err on the side of freedom.

Not to belittle the dead from 9/11, et al, but there are far greater risks we accept every day like driving on a freeway, etc. without banning driving to keep ourselves safe. I prefer freedom and extra risk to the slow (or not so slow) erosion of our rights and liberties.

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TommySama
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"At some point you have to draw the line between freedom and security. My personal belief is that we should err on the side of freedom. "

Paladine already eloquently addressed this. He said to look at the direct affects of what WE let happen to our government right after 9/11. Imagine how badly we'd trip out if there was one more 9/11, or 2 more.

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Everard
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"Ev, I just hope that you and those who believe as you do (there is no terrorist threat) are right, because if you're not, the cost will be terrible indeed."

It would really be nice if, for once, you could actually state my position, and not a strawman.

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Adam Masterman
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quote:

I suspect that by "criticism" you mean saying that we went to war for oil, Halliburton, Bush's daddy, or whatever the conspiracy theorist line is. I suspect you mean saying or implying that President Bush lied, that he pressured other people to lie, that we were deceived. You might believe these things, but I don't, and I think that the political atmosphere this kind of rhetoric produces is toxic.

Please link to where I said any of those things. If you are going to put words in my mouth, then be able to back it up.

And pardon me, but your opinion as to which positions are valid for debate is just as useless as Newt's. This is a democracy, and hopefully will remain one. That means you don't get to control what your opponents say, period. Thats why its a real debate, and if thats going to hurt some people's feelings, so be it. Here's what I'm hearing from you, with the positions reversed:

"We need an open and honest debate about Iraq. We need to put partisanship and rancor behind us, and work together to find solutions. So lets not hear any more lies about how we went over there to free Iraqis, or any nonsense about "staying the course" or fighting terrorists abroad rather than at home. That kind of rhetoric just muddies the water. Instead, we need an honest debate about finding real answers."

Now, how many conservatives just can't wait to engage me with dialogue after that invite? [Roll Eyes]

If you don't like what the other side of the aisle is saying, then by all means condemn it. But don't use the same voice to then say that you want to engage in open dialogue, because its inconsistant.

Adam

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Paladine
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quote:
Please link to where I said any of those things. If you are going to put words in my mouth, then be able to back it up.
I never put words in your mouth, Adam. I was very careful to say that those were suspicions of mine. I could very well be wrong. If you want to know why I suspect as I do, I'll be happy to share.

Gingrich brought numerous powerful criticisms of the planning behind the war effort to bear. He called the current strategy a failure. He said that we're going to lose if we continue along this route. As a member of the Defense Policy Board giving recommendations to Secretary Rumsfeld, he was opposed to the current plan, saying that we needed either a much greater number of soldiers or to retain the services of the Iraqi army. In public and in private, Speaker Gingrich has been VERY critical of the conduct of this occupation.

Despite that, you characterized him as:

quote:
a guy who insists that anyone criticising the war is providing aid and comfort to the enemy
How am I to make sense of this? An outspoken critic of the war insisting that anyone criticizing the war is providing aid and comfort to the enemy? On the face of it, it would seem that one of you is off your rocker.

Until I thought about what you probably meant by "criticism". You probably didn't mean that Speaker Gingrich was saying that people holding similar criticisms to his are providing aid and comfort. That would just be ridiculous. You probably meant criticisms of a very different kind. You probably meant motive speculation: why Bush et al. led us to Iraq. I could be wrong. If I be incorrect in how I'm interpreting your meaning, PLEASE correct me.

But if I be correct, then I'm in full agreement with Speaker Gingrich that the sort of "criticism" you're talking about provides aid and comfort to our enemies. I'll go a step further and say it creates a political atmosphere so toxic that cooperation and bipartisanship become impossible.

quote:
And pardon me, but your opinion as to which positions are valid for debate is just as useless as Newt's. This is a democracy, and hopefully will remain one. That means you don't get to control what your opponents say, period. Thats why its a real debate, and if thats going to hurt some people's feelings, so be it.
Oh, hush your fuss. I'm not telling you what you can and cannot say, or what topics are valid for debate. I'm telling you to consider the consequences of your words. You don't think jihadists love it when prominent Americans get on TV and say that Bush is a liar and that the war was based on sinister motives? You don't think it makes it impossible to cooperate with people and move forward in a bipartisan fashion as you decry them as liars who sent our boys to die for oil profits and stock dividends?

Of course you have an absolute right to say those things. But maybe, just maybe, since you really can't PROVE any of it to be true, since it DOES give aid and comfort to those who wish us harm, and since it DOES create an impossibly toxic political atmosphere, it wouldn't be too much to ask that you confine your criticisms to those of a practical, solvable nature. Maybe, just maybe it's not too much to ask that those who oppose this war focus first on how we might achieve a satisfactory result, and work hard towards that end rather than throwing stones and harming our cause?

quote:
"We need an open and honest debate about Iraq. We need to put partisanship and rancor behind us, and work together to find solutions. So lets not hear any more lies about how we went over there to free Iraqis, or any nonsense about "staying the course" or fighting terrorists abroad rather than at home. That kind of rhetoric just muddies the water. Instead, we need an honest debate about finding real answers."

Now, how many conservatives just can't wait to engage me with dialogue after that invite?

If you don't like what the other side of the aisle is saying, then by all means condemn it. But don't use the same voice to then say that you want to engage in open dialogue, because its inconsistant.

No, Adam, it's not the same voice. I'm saying that we need to put motive speculation of all sorts behind us for a minute and figure out how to win this thing, or at least how to make the end result as good as possible. I'm saying that's twice as true when that motive speculation results in being unable to move forward together and provides good propaganda for our mortal enemies.

When Republicans say that we went in there for a good cause, they don't say or imply that their opponents send young men and women off to die for a lie. When Democrats say that we went in there for a lie, they DO say that about their Republican counterparts. And how can you work honestly and openly with someone who says that sort of thing about you? How can you cooperate with someone who thinks you're a murderer?

So please stop trying to pretend there's some kind of symmetry here; there simply isn't. The sort of poisonous "criticism" Speaker Gingrich denounced should be stopped in a responsible society: not by me, and not by him, but by those who might be inclined to deliver it.

[ December 21, 2006, 12:41 PM: Message edited by: Paladine ]

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DaveS
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I can't believe you're holding Gingrich up as some sort of icon for reasonable political discourse. This is about Gingrich in 1984, as written up in Mother Jones, way before his most partisan and aggressive acts of the 90s:
quote:
Last May, U.S. Representative Newt Gingrich stood in the well of the House to rebut charges made by Speaker Tip O'Neill. For months, Gingrich had been harassing the Democrats in evening speeches broadcast over C-Span, the cable channel that carries House sessions. He called them "blind to communism"; he threatened to "file charges" against ten Democrats for a letter they wrote to Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega; he accused one Democrat of placing "communist propaganda" in the Speaker's lobby. In retaliation, O'Neill ordered the C-Span cameras to sweep the floor every few minutes to show the world that Gingrich and friends were declaiming before empty seats. And on May 14, he attacked Gingrich for questioning the patriotism of members of Congress.
He's an shameless idealogue and hardly a moral paragon, and as craven and manipulative as any other pol who ever zoomed to stardom in DC politics. If he's making nice now, it's only because it helps his cause, which is to position himself as a consensus Republican candidate for the 2008 election. If I had to choose between getting into a rowboat with Newt or a scorpion, I'd pick the scorpion, because I could always step on it, whereas fer sher Newt as a gun in his pocket and isn't afraid to use it.
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flydye45
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Oh good, Dave. You are hammering out that bridge in record time. If you are going to use such rhetoric, this dialouge is useless.

You, and I mean that specifically and generally, have to deal with the leaders the other side has, not the leaders you wish the other side has.

This means I would have to make nice with Kennedy, Pelosi, folks like Inquisitor Bonior and Scourge Harry Waxman. Of course their outrages against MY sensibilities were of more recent vinatage then 22 years ago, but there you are. And Gingrich's tactics don't seem any different then what goes on now. Perhaps then it was innovative, but I don't know. Of course in 1984, I can understand your outrage at all 9 people watching C-SPAN being "lied to" by Gingrich [Big Grin] .

[ December 21, 2006, 03:20 PM: Message edited by: flydye45 ]

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DaveS
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Newt is a JAP (Just Another Pundit) these days, with a huge yen to elevate his street fighting past as a fierce partisan into some sort of statesmanlike image. He used ethics charges to unseat the then Democratic House Speaker, Jim Wright, but later he was fined $300,000 for violations of House ethics rules. He was almost removed from his post as Speaker in a "coup" by fellow Republicans in 97 because of his poor public image. Probably more than anybody else, he personalized the 1998 elections to be against Clinton, even though Clinton wasn't running. That unseemly effort made him extremely unpopular, even with ordinary Republicans and led to Republican losses in that election, rather than the huge gain he predicted. His highly partisan and ultimately ineffective leadership caused him to lose the support of fellow House Republicans and eventually forced him to resign. You'll notice that I am not bringing his personal life into this discussion, with its shortcomings.

So, go ahead and put him back up on the pedestal. I'm not arguing that no Democrats are worthy of our disdain, but let's be clear about how closely our admiration or lack thereof matches up against their ambition. Waxman is an effective beancounter, Kennedy is a reliable liberal, and Pelosi has reached the peak of her career objectives. Newt wants to be president, and his newfound fondness for calm and reasoned discourse is just a tad self-serving.

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Daruma28
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Dave...great job of attacking the messenger instead of honestly evaluating and debating the message.

We could play this game all day with ANY pundit who comes out with a message on current affairs.

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Everard
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"We could play this game all day with ANY pundit who comes out with a message on current affairs."

Yup. Which is why we shouldn't bother with pundits. Ann Coulter, Rush, Michael Moore, OSC... the group of people who perform the political task of selling an opinion to a group of people who already hold the opinion do not have anything valid to contribute to public debate, because public debate is not the purpose of what they are doing. The purpose is to anger or enflame people who already agree with the pundit, against someone else... or else the purpose is to provide information without a complete context in order to persaude people that the opinion they hold is wrong.

Neither purpose is worth serious attention.

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DaveS
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quote:
Neither purpose is worth serious attention.
Fair point. The word "pundit" comes the sanskrit word for expert or highly informed person, but in these latter days almost always is used to describe someone who is highly opinionated or speaks with a political bias. Dick Morris is a pundit, but although Barry McCaffrey is on the TV often talking about the situation in Iraq, he is not called a pundit. The reason is because he is a highly informed expert with no known political or social agenda. If Newt were only a PhD in History, he could be a member of that elite segment of public speakers, but he is a partisan politico with political ambitions and a social agenda.

We have to refer to experts, since none of us can carry the message on our own. So, I agree with Everard that the likes of Ann Coulter are out, but real statesmen/women and historians, or other learned expert's opinions do matter. I also agree with Daruma that the message should be attacked instead of the messenger. It's just in this case, the message can't be separated from the messenger, who is a pundit.

[Edit: Actually, Dick Morris is not a good example of a pundit; he's just a PR flack who has attached himself to Bill O'Reilly. O'Reilly isn't a pundit either; he's a TV entertainer. Ditto for most hosts. Bill Bennett is probably a better example.]

[ December 21, 2006, 05:43 PM: Message edited by: DaveS ]

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flydye45
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Dave, I thought better of you.
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flydye45
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Let's take the last three posts in reverse order acknowledging that I run the risk of derailing the thread.

You seek to dovetail Mr. G as "simply a pundit" which is wrong. Ms. Coulter or Limbaugh etc have done nothing save be successful to deserve any title of expert, though Ms. Coulter is an attorney, which still gives a type of educational cachet. Mr. G ran for office, gained office, made a minority party into a majority party, gained Speakership, ran a Congress, made and pushed through legislation. This is something real, not airily dismissed. Mr. G IS an expert.

And this is part of the problem with your second post. Because he is so toxic to you politically, the effectiveness and ambition which would be virtues in anyone else become vices, simply because you oppose him. The others mentioned get an essential pass from you despite having the same bare knuckled approach to politics, simply because you do not fear their goals. This also goes to why Gingrich is demonized for Wright, but Mr. Bonior's 70 ethic charge witch hunt is summerily dismissed by the MSM who demonized ex Speaker (and share your concerns). BTW was Wright guilty? I know, irrelevant, though wiki mentions these charges might have been quid pro quo for earlier Democrat attacks (see more missing context, almost pundit like).

Your reaction makes me feel that attempting to bridge the partisan divide means I will be expected to do all the stretching.

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Everard
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"This is something real, not airily dismissed. Mr. G IS an expert."

An expert at what?

"Mr. G ran for office, gained office, made a minority party into a majority party, gained Speakership, ran a Congress, made and pushed through legislation. "

Considering the methods used to do this, I would say the answer to my above question is:

"Partisan mudslinging and congressional bullying."

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DaveS
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Fly, relax. I'm really not that partisan about political sludge. The difference between Gingrich and the dems whose names you brought up is indeed the height and reach of their ambitions. That was the contrast I was bringing out. Of the three, tell me what is at all unseemly or low-blowish about Henry Waxman?

Gingrich is certainly a master of the political process, an expert in that particular field of personal ambition. The reason I originally picked on a 1984 incident was to avoid the more familiar territory of the Clinton years to make the point, and because it augured his future methods.

Did Wright deserve what he got? Probably so. Did Gingrich deserve what he got? Probably so. How many charges did Gingrich & co. bring against the Clintons? How many of them stuck (0) and how much did it cost the taxpayers ($57M)? It was nothing but partisan political harassment, Newt's specialty. You would have a hard time getting Gingrich back up on a pedestal, and I'm surprised you don't realize that.

Remember when 6 Muslim scholars were taken off a plane about a month ago for talking among themselves in Arabic and praying before the flight? Their behavior was ruled suspicious, but they deny they did anything but travel as a group of fellow Muslim scholars. This is statesman Newt's take on it:
quote:
"Those six people should have been arrested and prosecuted for pretending to be terrorists. And the crew of the U.S. airplane should have been invited to the White House and congratulated for being correct in the protection of citizens."
Gingrich is like many televangelists who have lectured, sermonized and chastised people into leading better lives while they themselves have apparently not felt bound to practice what they preached. In Gingrich's case, he achieved his success by being confrontational, uncivil and wholly partisan. FWIW, there are a great many non-partisan thinkers who I read and often disagree with, but whose messages are nevertheless valuable to the kind of conversation this thread is nominally about. One place to go look for high quality discussion is the Aspen Institute, where:
quote:
The mission of the Aspen Institute is to foster enlightened leadership and open-minded dialogue. Through seminars, policy programs, conferences and leadership development initiatives, the Institute and its international partners seek to promote nonpartisan inquiry and an appreciation for timeless values.
As for the topic of this thread, I realize that my initial post was out of mode with what had preceded, but not by much. If you reread all of the posts, you'll see cracks in civility and strawman arguments, the kind of lapses in discourse that can derail a thread on this topic.

My comments on Gingrich are not a knock on Paladine, who started this thread with a legitimate point about toxic partisanship. Unfortunately, the man who delivered the words to move him to bring this important issue to the forum is widely credited for being the very person who instigated the decline of political cooperation in Congress and the Executive to the sad state it is now in.

[Edited to add: I suppose I have derailed this thread, which wasn't my intent. I apologize for that, and I'll withdraw from participation.]

[ December 22, 2006, 08:59 AM: Message edited by: DaveS ]

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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Please link to where I said any of those things. If you are going to put words in my mouth, then be able to back it up.

I never put words in your mouth, Adam. I was very careful to say that those were suspicions of mine. I could very well be wrong. If you want to know why I suspect as I do, I'll be happy to share.

Well gee, Pal, I "suspect" you are a fascist who hates minorities, cheats on his taxes, and is mean to puppies. Note how careful I was to say that thats just a suspicion.

How about just not speculating on what my "secret" opinions are. Lord knows I've posted plenty of explicit ones here to discuss.

quote:
I'm in full agreement with Speaker Gingrich that the sort of "criticism" you're talking about provides aid and comfort to our enemies. I'll go a step further and say it creates a political atmosphere so toxic that cooperation and bipartisanship become impossible.

So, accusing the other side of murder is bad (by your reasoning), because it creates a toxic atmosphere and makes cooperation impossible. Yet, accusing the other side of treason (which your statement just did) is somehow okay. No, there's no symmetry here. [Roll Eyes]


quote:
Oh, hush your fuss. I'm not telling you what you can and cannot say, or what topics are valid for debate. I'm telling you to consider the consequences of your words. You don't think jihadists love it when prominent Americans get on TV and say that Bush is a liar and that the war was based on sinister motives? You don't think it makes it impossible to cooperate with people and move forward in a bipartisan fashion as you decry them as liars who sent our boys to die for oil profits and stock dividends?
First of all, I've said many times that worrying about how our dialogue is going to effect the "feelings" of islamic terrorists is an absurd and frankly cowardly form of defeatism. It implies that we need to discourage the enemy from attacking us, as oppossed to defeating them militarily and preventing their attacks through security. Its an appeal to fear to stifle debate, and a transparent one at that.

As to their effects on bipartisanship, I never disagreed with you. I'm simply astounded that you can honestly tell me that calling someone a murderer stifles debate, but calling them a traitor doesn't. You are applying a ridiculous double standard.

Should we tone down the rhetoric in Washington? Sure. But it would need to happen on both sides of ther aisle. When one side asks it of the other, while clinging to their right to hurl their own invective, its just more of the same. All I see here is a politely worded version of that.

Adam

[ December 22, 2006, 10:07 AM: Message edited by: Adam Masterman ]

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Blessed
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And believe or not folks the subject of this discussion is bridging the partisan divide
[Eek!] [DOH]
Seems like there is more chance of God and the devil co-hosting dinner parties than any divide being bridged.

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Paladine
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quote:
He used ethics charges to unseat the then Democratic House Speaker, Jim Wright, but later he was fined $300,000 for violations of House ethics rules.
No. He was cleared on all Ethics charges, but admitted to signing a letter prepared by his lawyer during the course of the investigation which contained some inaccurate information. The $300,000 he paid was the cost of the investigation, not a "fine for ethics violations".

quote:
His highly partisan and ultimately ineffective leadership caused him to lose the support of fellow House Republicans and eventually forced him to resign.
His highly effective leadership led the Republican party to its first majority in 40 years. There was a great deal of ad hominem between Speaker Gingrich and President Clinton, and I agree that it was highly unproductive.

------------------------------------------------

Adam-

quote:
Well gee, Pal, I "suspect" you are a fascist who hates minorities, cheats on his taxes, and is mean to puppies. Note how careful I was to say that thats just a suspicion.

How about just not speculating on what my "secret" opinions are. Lord knows I've posted plenty of explicit ones here to discuss.

I'm not particularly interested in playing this little game. I've spelled out why I arrived at the suspicions I did with respect to how you meant the word "criticism". It's the only reasonable interpretation of what you wrote that I can see.

I've asked you to just tell me if I were wrong and that you meant something else. So I'll invite you to do that again. If you meant something other than what I took your words to mean, please tell me so. If you didn't, knock these silly games off. I wasn't speculating about your "secret" opinions; I was responding to something you wrote and using context to interpret it.

quote:
So, accusing the other side of murder is bad (by your reasoning), because it creates a toxic atmosphere and makes cooperation impossible. Yet, accusing the other side of treason (which your statement just did) is somehow okay. No, there's no symmetry here.
I did not accuse anyone of treason. I explicitly said that those who say this sort of thing might NOT INTEND to give aid and comfort to our enemies. Intent is a necessity when discussing criminality, and in my moral tradition at least, any "right" or "wrong" human action.

There is no symmetry between one person saying "George Bush sent our children to die for oil! For Halliburton! To finish what Pappy started!" and another saying "Hey, it really damages our image when you say stuff like that, and consequently helps the people we're fighting against. Mind not doing that?"

The former speaks to *intent*; the latter speaks to *effect*. If you can't see the difference, there's not much more I can say.

quote:
First of all, I've said many times that worrying about how our dialogue is going to effect the "feelings" of islamic terrorists is an absurd and frankly cowardly form of defeatism. It implies that we need to discourage the enemy from attacking us, as oppossed to defeating them militarily and preventing their attacks through security. Its an appeal to fear to stifle debate, and a transparent one at that.
I'm not concerned with the "feelings" of Islamic terrorists. I am concerned with the image it sends to the world when prominent members of our political system get up and say on TV that the war was based on lies and sinister motives. I think having statements like those from the mouths of American pundits and politicians serves excellently to bolster the anti-American propaganda fed to people in the Middle East and elsewhere.

And most of those people certainly aren't terrorists. But maybe they're a little more willing to let terrorists operate in their midst. Maybe they're a little more willing to hide them and shelter them, keep their secrets, give them food. These are the people we need to win over.

And no, the damage caused by the sort of statement I'm talking about isn't catastrophic. But it is real, and pretending that those statements don't hurt our image in their minds or that the aforementioned image doesn't matter seems strange to me.

Edited to Add:

quote:
As to their effects on bipartisanship, I never disagreed with you. I'm simply astounded that you can honestly tell me that calling someone a murderer stifles debate, but calling them a traitor doesn't. You are applying a ridiculous double standard.
Not so! See above. I'm FINE with criticism about the effects of the Iraq war and how it's been run. I'm FINE with criticism about the effects those critics' speech have on our image abroad. I'm not fine with either side hurling mud by sullying the others' intentions and rationale.

You might not like my standard, but it's absolutely consistent.

[ December 22, 2006, 02:16 PM: Message edited by: Paladine ]

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Daruma28
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quote:
Originally posted by DaveS:
Remember when 6 Muslim scholars were taken off a plane about a month ago for talking among themselves in Arabic and praying before the flight? Their behavior was ruled suspicious, but they deny they did anything but travel as a group of fellow Muslim scholars. This is statesman Newt's take on it:

DaveS, for this ONE instance that you wanted to use for your example of Newt being some kind of extremist, you are WAY off, because Newt is EXACTLY right on this.

Unfortunately, you are quite obviously only aware of the MSM (aka New York Times) version of the story without being fully informed of just exactly what happened on that flight.

Before you write one more word about this incident, you need to read the actual police report (and avoid relying solely on the MSM/NYT spin on the incident that wholly embraces the Jesse Jackson extortion template of these 6 imams) and realize that those 6 imams did in fact purposely mimic the actions of suspiscious people, and they did it to no doubt cause the publicity that the incident has garnered so that they could profit from grievance mongering as well as trying to create an impetus where the paradigm of political correctness would be shifted so that future actions by muslim flyerss could not be questioned by airline employees out of fear of future lawsuits - in effect, purposely attempting to manipulate the media to weaken our security by compromising the air crews training in profiling potential terrorists under the banner of "racial profiling."

I'm well aware that this is potentially a serious derailment of this thread, but screw it, this thread is the perfect example of why the partisan divide simply cannot be bridged any time soon. [Roll Eyes]

But I WILL not stand for this crap about 6 guys who are basically working as operatives in our country to try and make us more susceptible to another 9/11 type of attack being cited as some sort of "injustice perpetrated by racist Americans."

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Adam Masterman
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quote:
did not accuse anyone of treason. I explicitly said that those who say this sort of thing might NOT INTEND to give aid and comfort to our enemies. Intent is a necessity when discussing criminality, and in my moral tradition at least, any "right" or "wrong" human action.
The law against treason contains no mention of intent:

"Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted."

When someone gives Aid and Comfort to an enemy of the United States, that person has clearly violated this clause.

But thats beside the point. What I am saying is that calling oppositonal speech treason is needlessly inflammatory, just as inflammatory as calling someone a murderer. Its a very weak out to claim that its not really an accusation of treason because the question of intent is not addressed. Bush may not intend for anyone to die in the Iraq war, he could simply be using the military to enforce his will to gain oil in the middle east (to use your example; I have never argued that). If I word it as such, then by your definition I am not accusing him of murder, because I have not ascribed intent. Is my accusation therefore acceptible?

You seem to be presenting a moving target. At first it was personal attacks that are so toxic they make bipartisanship impossible. I pointed out that labeling people's words treason (even using the exact wording of the treason statute) certainly does the same. Now you say that thats okay, bceause you haven't speculated on the motives of the speakers. So, in the interest of parity, can I now say that Bush presented false information to bring us to war, that the public was manipulated to arrive at false conclusions, as long as I don't ascribe a motive to these actions?

Again, I am not the one who is defending the rhetoric of one side versus the other. I admit that extreme rhetoric stifles debate and vilifies people who are our countrymen and ultimately, our allies. I'm simply pointing out that both sides are engaging in such rhetoric. What I will NOT concede is that its okay to label someone's speech treasonous (even while not specifically saying its "on purpose"), but not okay to call Bush a murderer. Its just another version of "my side can do no wrong," which is very ironic considering the title of the thread.

I will post more on this next point later, but in general I am very suspicious of calls to "put partisanship behind us" and "come together on issues." When people disagree on issues, at least in theory its because they have conflicting principles. Those can't magically be forgotten in the interest of "getting along". Often what is meant by talk of "unity" is for the other side to stop opposing us. As in, "too bad we lost all that national unity we had after 9-11." Well, thats all well and good if you are a Bush backer, and just want to return to a rubber stamp congress. Those of us who oppose that agenda, however, are not wrong to refuse to go along, just for the sake of unity. Disagreement is democracy, pure and simple. Civil discourse is great (would be great), but there is no virtue at all in abandoning what you believe is right to join with what is popular.

Adam

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