Just Above Sunset
February 27, 2005 - Call it salvaging self-respect...

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Once we elected Bush for a second term we have had to adjust our thinking it seems, as his landslide victory - and mandate (see comment at end) from almost all Americans - creates a bit of discomfort.  Note these rising figures as folks try to make themselves feel more at ease.


The curious new Harris Poll - what we believe to be true – results of a nationwide Harris Poll surveyed by telephone by Harris Interactive between February 8 and 13, 2005. 


What the…?


 … 47 percent believe that Saddam Hussein helped plan and support the hijackers who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001 (up six percentage points from November).


… 44 percent actually believe that several of the hijackers who attacked the U.S. on September 11 were Iraqis (up significantly from 37% in November).


… 36 percent believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded (down slightly from 38% in November).


Another interesting finding is that only 46 percent believe that Saddam Hussein was prevented from developing weapons of mass destruction by the U.N. weapons inspectors, a fact which most reports now support.


And out here, Chris Cox – sitting Republican congressman from Irvine, California (one county south of Just Above Sunset) – this week at a conservative convention said this


America's Operation Iraqi Freedom is still producing shock and awe, this time among the blame-America-first crowd," he crowed. Then he said, "We continue to discover biological and chemical weapons and facilities to make them inside Iraq." Apparently, most of the hundreds of people in attendance already knew about these remarkable, hitherto-unreported discoveries, because no one gasped at this startling revelation.


Full quote here 


We continue to discover biological and chemical weapons and the facilities to make them inside of Iraq, and even more about their intended use, including that a plan to distribute sarin, and the lethal poison ricin -- in the United States and Europe -- was actively being pursued as late as March 2003. The facility where the weapons were being made also housed a large inventory of perfume atomizers of various shapes and sizes to mimic the brands on store shelves in the United States. It doesn't take a wild imagination to understand the chilling implications. It does take imagination to combat it. And that's why we're lucky have an administration that gets it.


Did we find all that?  Damn, I missed that!  CNN is just not doing its job!  Female readers – do NOT buy perfume!


We are never going to agree at this rate.


Bob Herbert in the New York Times


… So tell me again. What was this war about? In terms of the fight against terror, the war in Iraq has been a big loss. We've energized the enemy. We've wasted the talents of the many men and women who have fought bravely and tenaciously in Iraq. Thousands upon thousands of American men and women have lost arms or legs, or been paralyzed or blinded or horribly burned or killed in this ill-advised war. A wiser administration would have avoided that carnage and marshaled instead a more robust effort against Al Qaeda, which remains a deadly threat to America.

What is also dismaying is the way in which the administration has taken every opportunity since Sept. 11, 2001, to utilize the lofty language of freedom, democracy and the rule of law while secretly pursuing policies that are both unjust and profoundly inhumane. It is the policy of the U.S. to deny due process of law to detainees at the scandalous interrogation camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where prisoners, many of whom have turned out to be innocent, are routinely treated in a cruel and degrading manner.

The U.S. is also engaged in the reprehensible practice known as extraordinary rendition, in which terror suspects are abducted and sent off to be interrogated by foreign regimes that are known to practice torture. And the C.I.A. is operating ultrasecret prisons or detention centers overseas for so-called high-value detainees. What goes on in those places is anybody's guess.

It may be that most Americans would prefer not to know about these practices, which are nothing less than malignant cells that are already spreading in the nation's soul. Denial is often the first response to the most painful realities. But most Americans also know what happens when a cancer is ignored.”


Part of what I wrote to my nephew in Mosul last night –


I have no problem with what you do, as you know.  I have long had a problem with the geopolitical wisdom of the whole enterprise.  But you knew that too.  You – and your whole command - are executing a policy with honor, bravery, cleverness and immense good will.  The course of action selected – that is, the concept here of how to deal with the bad guys and those who think about them, or think like them, or might want to follow them for reason religious, economic, ethnic or emotional – well, that whole strategic concept seems really somewhere between counterproductive and hair-brained, and more toward the latter.  And the business at Abu Ghraib, and with extraordinary rendition (to Syria for God’s sake!), and with the ghost facilities at Diego Garcia and Camp Lemonier in Djibouti and who knows where else?  That ticks me off – as all that can reflect back on you, and I’m proud of you, and that is just not fair.  End of rant.


Minor note – The joke going around on the left last week is about Jeff Gannon, the fake reporter planted in the White House press corps, who turned out to have four gay websites and had been offering himself as a well-hung sexual “escort” if you had the cash or room on your Visa card – and the sites had nude pictures of him displaying his equipment.  (See this for a bit about that.)   The joke?  This is what Bush meant when he said he now has a man-date.  Pretty lame, but a tad funny.


Dick in Rochester on the Harris Poll: Never underestimate the ability of people determined to be stupid!


I don't think of them is stupid.  Troubled may be a better word.  See October 3, 2004: The Annuls of Cognitive Dissonance - as more and more of these folks are simply trying hard to make the best of a bad decision in the voting booth.  It CANNOT have been a bad decision!  Now there's a problem - how to justify yourself to yourself.  Solution?  Cling to ideas that make it seem you weren't a fool.  Call it salvaging self-respect. 


Some delusions are useful, and maybe necessary, just to keep going in this world.  Like the delusion anything really matters.  (Paris, 1953, Café de Flore)


And too, there's something politically counterproductive in saying the other side is stupid, of course.  Even when they are.  


Best to listen quietly, ask clarifying questions and rephrase for them (basic active listening skills any counselor knows), say nothing at all of what you think, until, after they talk on and on, they begin to really hear what they're actually saying.  Then they stop. 


They know.  Trust me, it works.


Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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