Monday, November 08, 2004

Thomas Frank's op-ed piece in the New York Times reiterates the theme of his book, What's the Matter With Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America: Republicans keep winning, in the heartland and in presidential elections, because they are better at making ordinary Americans believe that they embrace the values of the common people, even as they continue to support the policies that help the rich. The "conservative revolt...is an uprising of the common people whose long-term economic effect has been to shower riches upon the already wealthy and degrade the lives of the very people who are rising up."

The Democrats have not gotten this point, apparently. It doesn't matter how "centrist" the Democratic Party is, or how many times it pushes itself to the right. People like Kerry just cannot convince the folks in Kansas that he is one of them. But apparently people like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney can--even though they are so wealthy they never have to work another day in their lives if they don't want to. They do it by convincing Americans in the heartland that they "share their values."

Paul Freedman doesn't buy this argument. He says Bush won because a majority of voters thought he was better at fighting terrorism. I think he's right that terrorism is the wild card issue that tipped the balance in an election where "moral values" was no more popular as a voter concern than it had been in previous elections. But Freedman's argument still does not explain why 51% of the Americans who voted believed that Bush was better at fighting terrorism than Kerry would be, given the fact that there were no weapons of mass destruction and that the Bush administration used fraudulent intelligence to justify the war. It's inexplicable to me that, despite the reality of escalating violence in Iraq, more acts of terrorism than before the war, and Osama bin Laden's continued existence, so many Americans still believe that Bush has made us safer. It seems to me there's some other factor involved here that I just haven't found yet.

So when all is said and done, I have to agree with Katha Pollitt's conclusion about what the Democrats should do to defeat the chokehold neoconservatives have on America: I just don't know.

10 comments:

DamselFly said...

What part of "America is safer now" do you not understand? How can anyone be so blind? Have we been attacked on our own soil since 9/11? Have we experienced American embassies being attacked as they were during previous administrations? How can anyone say that we aren't safer now? Yes, I grant you, terrorism is rampant across the globe, but Osama sent a tape to the U.S., not a bomb.

Kathy said...

I have heard this argument many times before, and I don't understand the logic behind it at all. It took years for the terrorists to plan 9/11, so the fact that there hasn't been a terrorist attack in the U.S. since 2001 means very little. Also, people seem to forget that between the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 and the attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon in 2002, 8 years elapsed. So would you say that Americans were safer in 1996 because there hadn't been a terrorist attack since 1993?

If terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda and the many many others that have come into existence since 2001 have taught us anything, it is that they are patient and think long-term, not short-term. They have demonstrated over and over that they have the ability to strike when they want to strike, at times of their choosing. I personally do not feel one bit safer simply because there have been no terrorist attacks within the U.S. since 9/11/01.

Thank you for reading my blog. :-)

Kathy said...

Just a quick correction to my comment -- I should have said that the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked in 2001, not 2002.

DamselFly said...

It is obvious that your idea of Americans being attacked is quite different than mine and a lot of others. Americans, especially our military, have been attacked for more than 20 years by terrorists, whether on U.S. soil, or at American embassies around the world. The terrorists didn't just appear a few years ago. They have been performing their acts of destruction for some time now. The following recalls those times.

U.S. Navy Captain Ouimette is the Executive Officer at Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida. Here is a copy of the speech he gave in April 2004. It is an accurate account of why we are in so much trouble today and why this action is so necessary.

AMERICA NEEDS TO WAKE UP!

That's what we think we heard on the 11th of September 2001 (When more than 3,000 Americans were killed) and maybe it was, but I think it should have been "Get Out of Bed!" In fact, I think the alarm clock has been buzzing since 1979 and we have continued to hit the snooze button and roll over for a few more minutes of peaceful sleep since then.

It was a cool fall day in November 1979 in a country going through a religious and political upheaval when a group of Iranian students attacked and seized the American Embassy in Tehran. This seizure was an outright attack on American soil; it was an attack that held the world's most powerful country hostage and paralyzed a Presidency. The attack on this sovereign U. S. embassy set the stage for events to follow for the next 23 years.

America was still reeling from the aftermath of the Vietnam experience and had a serious threat from the Soviet Union when then, President Carter, had to do something. He chose to conduct a clandestine raid in the desert.

The ill-fated mission ended in ruin, but stood as a symbol of America's inability to deal with terrorism.

America's military had been decimated and downsized/right sized since the end of the Vietnam War. A poorly trained, poorly equipped and poorly organized military was called on to execute a complex mission that was doomed from the start.

Shortly after the Tehran experience, Americans began to be kidnapped and killed throughout the Middle East. America could do little to protect her citizens living and working abroad. The attacks against US soil continued.

In April of 1983 a large vehicle packed with high explosives was driven into the US Embassy compound in Beirut. When it explodes, it kills 63 people.

The alarm went off again and America hit the Snooze Button once more.

Then just six short months later a large truck heavily laden down with over 2500 pounds of TNT smashed through the main gate of the US Marine Corps headquarters in Beirut and 241 US servicemen are killed. America mourns her dead and hit the Snooze Button once more.

Two months later in December 1983, another truck loaded with explosives is driven into the US Embassy in Kuwait, and America continues her slumber.

The following year, in September 1984, another van was driven into the gate of the US Embassy in Beirut and America slept.

Soon the terrorism spreads to Europe. In April 1985 a bomb explodes in a restaurant frequented by US soldiers in Madrid.

Then in August a Volkswagen loaded with explosives is driven into the main gate of the US Air Force Base at Rhein-Main, 22 are killed and the snooze alarm is buzzing louder and louder as US interests are continually attacked.

Fifty-nine days later a cruise ship, the Achille Lauro is hijacked and we watched as an American in a wheelchair is singled out of the passenger list and executed.

The terrorists then shift their tactics to bombing civilian airliners when they bomb TWA Flight 840 in April of 1986 that killed 4 and the most tragic bombing, Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, killing 259.

Clinton treated these terrorist acts as crimes; in fact we are still trying to bring these people to trial. These are acts of war.

The wake up alarm is getting louder and louder.

The terrorists decide to bring the fight to America. In January 1993, two CIA agents are shot and killed as they enter CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

The following month, February 1993, a group of terrorists are arrested after a rented van packed with explosives is driven into the underground parking garage of the World Trade Center in New York City. Six people are killed and over 1000 are injured. Still this is a crime and not an act of war?

The Snooze alarm is depressed again.

Then in November 1995 a car bomb explodes at a US military complex in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia killing seven service men and women.

A few months later in June of 1996, another truck bomb explodes only 35 yards from the US military compound in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. It destroys the Khobar Towers, a US Air Force barracks, killing 19 and injuring over 500. The terrorists are getting braver and smarter as they see that America does not respond decisively.

They move to coordinate their attacks in a simultaneous attack on two US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. These attacks were planned with precision.

They kill 224. America responds with cruise missile attacks and goes back to sleep.

The USS Cole was docked in the port of Aden, Yemen for refueling on 12 October 2000, when a small craft pulled along side the ship and exploded killing 17 US Navy Sailors. Attacking a US War Ship is an act of war, but we sent the FBI to investigate the crime and went back to sleep.

And of course you know the events of 11 September 2001. Most Americans think this was the first attack against US soil or in America. How wrong they are.

America has been under a constant attack since 1979 and we chose to hit the snooze alarm and roll over and go back to sleep.

As you can see, these terrorists have been busy performing their acts of terror for many years. They haven't been in the planning stages all that time, as you can see. Discounting the acts of terror against the men and women who protect our freedom is reprehensible.

Kathy said...

Discounting the acts of terror against the men and women who protect our freedom is reprehensible.You're quite right that our views on the issues of terrorism and safety are very different. I'm not going to respond to most of what you wrote, but I do have some questions about the above sentence. Are you implying here that the people in Iraq don't have the right to defend themselves against the U.S. invasion? Don't they have the same right to self-defense and to fight for their country as Americans do? I don't agree that U.S. troops are fighting for my freedom; in fact, in many significant ways, I am less free now than I have ever been before. That is not to trivialize the enormity of the sacrifice U.S. troops are making. They are being killed and wounded and many are being psychologically and emotionally scarred for life, to attack a country that did nothing to us. Those soldiers' own government betrayed them. But that said, it is the United States that invaded Iraq; not the other way around. Iraqis have been terrorized for almost 2 years now by U.S. bombs, tanks, guns, and occupation forces. What is it that you expect when the most powerful country in the world attacks a country that has no military at all worth speaking of? The insurgents are fighting U.S. troops with the weapons they have. They don't have fighter jets and bombs and tanks. Guerrilla warfare is the classic military choice of those who do not have powerful state militaries. What else do you expect them to do? Did you really expect that U.S. troops would encounter no resistance? That Iraqis would just roll over and let themselves be invaded and welcome the invaders? Would you welcome invasion by a foreign country and not resist?

DamselFly said...

You are probably correct by not responding to most of what I posted since its totally discredits your stance that the U.S. has only been attacked in 1993 and in 2001 by terrorists. You obviously view the attacks on our military and civilians around the world as insignificant in your eyes since it didn't happen on U.S. soil lying between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Your position that the United States invaded Iraq is preposterous since the vast majority of Iraqis look upon the United States as liberators and not invaders. Don't take my word but listen to what the majority of the Iraqis have to say. One example can be found at http://messopotamian.blogspot.com. I suppose the Iraqis would have been better off to have remained under the control of Saddam Hussein, who only killed millions of his own innocent citizens.

To claim that the insurgents are defending THEIR country is equally ludicrous as a large number of them are not even Iraqi nationals but terrorists from other countries around the world. The Iraqis who are fighting FOR their country have joined with the U.S. and other multinational forces and are fighting side-by-side with them for the much wanted democracy in their country.

In response to your last sentence - Wake up, we were invaded and those troops that you say are not fighting for your freedom went to Afghanistan, and then on to Iraq and showed our resistance to that very act. I am appalled that you would make the statement that the U.S. troops are not fighting for your freedom. It is a slap in the face to the very ones who volunteer to protect your freedom.

Kathy said...

You are probably correct by not responding to most of what I posted since its totally discredits your stance that the U.S. has only been attacked in 1993 and in 2001 by terrorists. That's not why I didn't respond to most of what you said. I just think we are too far apart in our views on this issue to make discussion productive. I don't understand your thought processes, and you don't understand mine. I'll give just one example of what I mean. You give a long list of terrorist acts against U.S. interests abroad, in addition to the two that happened in the continental United States. You say that this proves the invasion of Afghanistan and of Iraq have made Americans safer, because there have been no other attacks on U.S. soil or on U.S. embassies since Oct. 2001 (which is when Bush invaded Afghanistan). This makes no sense at all, in my view, because there have been dozens and dozens and dozens of terrorist attacks on U.S. interests abroad in the last 3 years. If you want more details, look at the book "Imperial Hubris" by Mike Scheuer. He is a senior CIA officer who was in charge of the unit on Osama bin Laden; he published his book under "Anonymous" but recently went public. He lists pages and pages of terrorist attacks on U.S. interests since 2001. In addition to this, the list of terrorist attacks you posted happened over a span of 25 years. You list (if I counted correctly) 16 terrorist acts that took place over a span of about 25 years. So how can you logically argue that Americans are safer because of Bush's invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, when those invasions took place within a span of only 3 years? It's beyond me to understand that. The U.S. suffered scores of terrorist attacks for 25 years, and you conclude that America is safer now because there have been none in THREE years? I'm sorry, your thinking is beyond my comprehension. But in fairness, I'm sure my thinking is beyond *your* comprehension, too.

Your position that the United States invaded Iraq is preposterous since the vast majority of Iraqis look upon the United States as liberators and not invaders.I think that was probably true at the start of the invasion, when Saddam Hussein was first overthrown; but after 2 years of occupation, horrendous chaos and violence, over 100,000 Iraqi civilians killed by the U.S. invasion, and an "interim president" who used to be a CIA agent for the U.S. and is widely viewed by Iraqis as a U.S. puppet, I think America has long, long since worn out its welcome. Even many troops over there have said that Iraqis don't want us there, and actually hate us. That said, I will look at the blog you mentioned; and here is a blog that you can look at, for another Iraqi point of view on the invasion. It is http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com.

To claim that the insurgents are defending THEIR country is equally ludicrous as a large number of them are not even Iraqi nationals but terrorists from other countries around the world.Actually, there was an article in yesterday's Los Angeles Times that the U.S. Marine commanders of the Fallujah invasion have concluded, from their interrogation of captured insurgent fighters in Fallujah, that most of the insurgents--in Iraq in general, not just Fallujah--are NOT from other countries. Most of them are Iraqis. The link to this article is in yesterday's posts in my blog.

The Iraqis who are fighting FOR their country have joined with the U.S. and other multinational forces and are fighting side-by-side with them for the much wanted democracy in their country.Which they will never get, as long as the Bush administration, and/or future U.S. administrations, continue to orchestrate the political process in Iraq to get an outcome acceptable to the U.S. government.

I am just wondering, Damsel, if we should agree to disagree. I don't think either one of us is likely to change our minds on these issues. I understand that your views are deeply and passionately held; and so are mine. I respect your views; but more important, I respect your right to voice them freely. May we both continue to be able to say exactly what we believe.

DamselFly said...

You are correct, Kathy, we should agree to disagree. But I have enjoyed the conversation. And I commend you for your honest forthright comments without being degrading to me and my opinions as has been the case on some other blogs I have commented on.

There is no doubt in my mind that my son's service in Iraq over the past year and his experiences there with his comrades and the Iraqis have given me an insight that not everyone is privy too. His experiences there still give me hope that one day, the Iraqis will know democracy as we are so blessed to know.

Regards,

DamselFly

Kathy said...

I hope that your son stays safe and that he comes home soon. It must be very hard to have your child in such danger.

And thank you for your nice comments about my debating style. I think the same is true of you.

All the best to you.

DamselFly said...

Actually, my son returned to U.S. soil about two weeks ago and I am looking forward to seeing him next week. It was a difficult time and had it not been for the Internet, it would have been more difficult. I was not able to hear any good news about Iraq, other than through blogs and similar sites. But once I found those, I discovered there was much good news to be found - reported by our soldiers and by the Iraqi citizens. That good news has been confirmed by my son with some of the stories of bravery and dedication to the effort by both our military and those Iraqis who dream for a better life.

I wish you well.

Regards,

DamselFly