“You’re a chickenhawk so you can’t comment!”

Posted by: ST on August 17, 2005 at 9:48 am

I run into this quite a bit and I’m sure many of you have as well. You start discussing the Iraq war, defending the President’s rationale for sending over 100K troops into harms way, and inevitably the argument breaks down to: “Well if you’re so gung ho, why don’t YOU sign up to serve?” Or “You don’t have family serving, so how dare you advocate this war!” Well, in a Townhall.com piece today, Ben Shapiro rips apart the arguments of those who claim that “chickenhawks” aren’t qualified to discuss national security issues:

Who is qualified to speak on matters of national security? According to the American left, only pacifists, military members who have served in combat and direct relatives of those slain in combat or in acts of terrorism. The rest of us — about 80 percent of voters — must simply sit by silently. Our opinions do not matter. You want disenfranchisement? Talk to the political left, which seeks to exclude the vast majority of the American populace from the national debate about foreign policy.

The bulk of the left in this country refuses to argue about foreign policy rationally, without resorting to ad hominem attack. The favored ad hominem attack of the left these days is “chickenhawk.” The argument goes something like this: If you believe in any of the wars America is currently fighting, you must join the military. If you do not, you must shut up. If, on the other hand, you believe that America should disengage from all foreign wars, you may feel free not to serve in the military.

This is the argument made by hate-America radicals like Michael Moore, who defines “chickenhawk” on his website thus: “A person enthusiastic about war, provided someone else fights it; particularly when that enthusiasm is undimmed by personal experience with war; most emphatically when that lack of experience came in spite of ample opportunity in that person’s youth.” The “chickenhawk” argument was the implicit centerpiece of John Kerry’s presidential campaign — Kerry hyped his military service and denigrated George W. Bush’s military service, all the while focusing on the fact that he, unlike President Bush, was anti-war. Kerry’s campaign underling, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, made the argument explicit during April 2004: “They shriek like a hawk, but they have the backbone of the chicken,” he said of the Bush Administration. “The lead chickenhawk against Sen. Kerry [is] the vice president of the United States, Vice President Cheney.” Not coincidentally, Lautenberg utilized Moore’s exact “chickenhawk” definition in making his point.

The “chickenhawk” argument is dishonest. It is dishonest because the principle of republicanism is based on freedom of choice about behavior (as long as that behavior is legal) as well as freedom of speech about political issues. We constantly vote on activities with which we may or may not be intimately involved. We vote on police policy, though few of us are policemen; we vote on welfare policy, though few of us either work in the welfare bureaucracy or have been on welfare; we vote on tax policy, even if some of us don’t pay taxes. The list goes on and on. Representative democracy necessarily means that millions of us vote on issues with which we have had little practical experience. The “chickenhawk” argument — which states that if you haven’t served in the military, you can’t have an opinion on foreign policy — explicitly rejects basic principles of representative democracy.

Bang on. Make sure to read the whole thing. Bottom line: invoking the chickenhawk argument is a way that anti-war types attempt to shame the ‘chickenhawks’ into stifling their opinions about matters of national security. I’d like to stress that *some* of these same anti-war types who invoke that argument themselves haven’t served either yet are obvious direct beneficiaries of wars past that neither they nor their family served in, wars that have been fought to ensure that the US stays a free and safe nation and one who can continue to boast about the fact that freedom of speech is a protected right … a right for these same people to speak freely and outspokenly against these very same wars that have protected that right.

Hat tip to Betsy Newmark, who provides additional spot-on commentary:

Another argument that always irritates me is the complaint that Bush’s daughters aren’t serving in the military. The underlying premise is that a father should have some control over the career choices of his children. Children aren’t possessions that you can command to go enlist because it would make Daddy look better. What a patronizing attitude.

But the other thing that gets me is the thought of what would happen if one or both of the girls did enlist and were sent over to Iraq. What a pain that would be for the military. They couldn’t serve as others did, but since they would be such a big fat target for the terrorists, these young soldiers would have to be surrounded by extra security. Their mere presence would draw other soldiers from doing what they had to do in order to provide security for these targets. Being with them would endanger everyone around them constantly. How would that be for unit cohesion. I imagine it would be such a security nightmare that commanders would either not want them there in Iraq or would want them in some relatively protected position inside the perimeter of protection afforded other high profile Americans like the Ambassador. And then there would be such an outcry about their getting special privileges while they were there or not being sent over to Iraq because of who their father is. So, it is a fatuous argument that his daughters should be serving in the military.

Indeed.

Afternoon update: Jonah Goldberg also attacks the “chickenhawks shouldn’t talk” argument:

Anybody who’s been on the receiving end of the “chickenhawk” epithet knows what I’m getting at. Various definitions of chickenhawk are out there, but the gist — as if you didn’t know — is “coward” or “unpatriotic hypocrite.” The accusation is less an argument than an insult.

It’s also a form of bullying. The intent is to say, “You have no right to support the war since you haven’t served or signed up.” It’s a way to get supporters of the war in Iraq, the war on terror, or the president simply to shut up.

But there’s a benefit of a doubt to be given. There are many people — I know because I’ve argued with lots of them — who don’t believe the “chickenhawk” thing is intellectually unserious.

Obsessed with “authenticity” and the evil of hypocrisy — as they see it — they think the message and the messenger are inextricably linked. Two plus two is four only if the right person says so. We hear this logic most often from adherents of identity politics, who give more weight to the statements of women, blacks, Jews, and others for the sole reason that they were uttered by people born female, black, Jewish or whatever. People who grew up poor are supposed to have a more “authentic” perspective on economic policy than people who didn’t, and so on.

Don’t get me wrong — experience is important and useful, including the experiences that come from being black or gay or otherwise a member of the Coalition of the Oppressed. But valuable experience confers knowledge; it doesn’t beatify. And identity isn’t an iron cage: It is not insurmountable. And, at the end of the day, arguments must stand on their own merits, regardless of who delivers them.

Wink: Jeff Goldstein, who has some words of wisdom of his own on regarding this topic.

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  • 46 Responses to ““You’re a chickenhawk so you can’t comment!””

    Comments

    1. Sean says:

      This is so right on. The military is under civilian control. And the civilian control are representatives elected by we, the people. We all can and are supposed to have our say about what the government does, especially in how our military is used.

      These are the same people who are outraged that the administration consulted with people from the oil and energy industry as part of formulating an energy policy. But according to their logic about military opinions, oil industry people should be the only ones allowed to comment on energy policy.

    2. Richmond says:

      Thanks for steering me to this great article. As you said, it’s bang on. (And off topic — I really like the new layout. Much easier to read!)

    3. eric says:

      The chickenhawk type of argument is useful only to the extent that positions get anthropomorphised, or personalized. Like when being pro-war is equated with courage or nobleness, or being anti-war is equated with cowardice.

      Its not so much that only those involved can comment, its more that these personal qualities have no meaning for those without personal connection. And the chickenhawk is the one who is claiming the valor and value of sacrifice without having done it in the past, or doing it now.

      “Another argument that always irritates me is the complaint that Bush’s daughters aren’t serving in the military.”

      I prefer the version of the complaint that says that they’re not encouraged to go, not that they should be made to go.

    4. - Oh yes… Like anybody with a shred of common sense is going to take what liberals have to say serious. Oh yeh, that can happen. Whats going on in Crawford right now is such a typical “against everything American” activity by those among us with deep personal issues, in dire need of proffessional help. As Sistah posted elsewhere, you can be anti-war without all the mean-spirited hostility. Carrying signs like “We support the troops when they shoot their officers” would get you thrown in prison, tortured, or shot in many of the countries the Kum-byah Birkenstock brigades want to pamper, while they denegrate and badmouth everything mainstream Americans believe in. The good news is, everyone over the age of 7 can clearly see what the Communists/Marxists/Socialists are up to. With the Democrats its all about being out of power. Its driving them nuts. They’ll take support from any quarter, no matter how frenetic and rediculous it looks and acts.

    5. NCSean says:

      My response to the chickenhawk charge is to ask the accuser if they are a cop or fireman. If they aren’t then they have no right to ask for police or fire protection since, seemingly, only those who put their life on the line as a cop or firemen are allowed to demand protection from criminals or fire.

      If I have this line of reasoning straight you have to actually be a cop or firemen to use 911.

    6. NCSean says:

      The conversation might go something like this:

      leftist: You’re a chickenhawk!

      Me: So what you’re telling me is that you and I can’t use 911?

      leftist: (befuddled) Uh.

      Me: If we can’t ask for the military to protect us unless we actually serve, then how can we likewise expect cops and firemen to put their lives on the line?

      Me: You see the problem don’t you? Cops and firemen risk their lives just like soldiers do, but you are saying that we can’t have anyone protect us unless we are part of the organization doing the protecting.

      leftist: Chickenhawk!

    7. James says:

      Those on the unhinged left are easily identifiable. I say just ignore them!:razz:

    8. scottfromca says:

      Honey, I love Bush and his yummy young nephew, but I can’t criticize anyone for being a chickenhawk. I’m a chickenhawk by proxy because the military sure isn’t about to accept a 385lbs. crossdresser who can’t say no to anyone in tight jeans and roguh hands.

    9. - Thats a terrible gloss….. doesn’t match your eyes or clutch at all….:roll:

    10. ArizonaTeach says:

      Hey, I’ll gladly accept the chickenhawk label if anyone who speaks out against the war accepts being called a traitor. Any takers? No?

    11. Jack Roy says:

      Erm, hate to break up the self-congratulation party here, but you really mistake the argument. I doubt you or any of the writers you link to could cite a case of liberals arguing that conservatives can’t take positions on the war, because I read these things every day and I’m still unaware of any such argument. It’s rather that the reluctance of many conservative pro-war types actually to enlist in the service is pretty good reason to doubt the genuineness of their arguments that the war is morally compelling. If they’re not willing to help out, how compelling could it be?

      Like it or not, war is a matter of grave consequence. The stakes are high, but so are the unavoidable costs. What infuriates liberals is that we have an administration so devoid of military service (unless Norm Mineta is a veteran, I believe the last one was Powell) that appears quite blithe to the consequences of war, to say nothing of their pajamaed online supporters. The real argument against the pro-war side is, “You only want to talk about the ostensible benefits of having gone to war, but don’t want to acknowledge the heavy costs involved. I don’t think that’s surprising, because you’ve never been willing to bear the burden of war yourself, and I doubt that you’re taking into account everything you ought to be considering when deciding whether war is a good idea. That’s shoddy policy-making, and it’s especially lamentable in such weighty affairs.” But we get concerned that your attention spans don’t stretch beyond “Support the troops!” and we have to shorten it.

      Sigh. I don’t know why I bother. I wonder if anyone’s going to pay attention to this?

      Those on the unhinged left are easily identifiable. I say just ignore them!

      Oh.

    12. Thanks for the comments guys! The only thing I have to add is this, to Jack Roy: Thanks so much for demonstrating the point made in my posts as well as the articles I linked up to.

      Oh, and one other thing: to “scottfromca” – thanks for “weighing” in ;)

    13. Me says:

      Yeah, that’s a pretty gross misinterpretation of the argument/accusation. I’ve never used it, and I’ve never understood why anyone would be ashamed to say that they support the war but haven’t served; that would just show how ridiculous the argument is, I think.

      I actually tried pointing that out to Goldstein, but he just got pissy.

    14. - Once again the Liberals have opened another can of worms I doubt they will be pleased with. But having done so, they can’t turn around now and accuse Conservatives of trying to brand them unfairly. I now can say, without that concern, that the vast vast majority of the men I served with in the military were of a Conservative bent. The few Liberals that popped up here and there, generally either stayed to themselves, or got into one sort of trouble or another for shooting off their mouths in some untimely or intemperate manner. Now what am I to make of all of this. Obviously one could ask some pretty embarrissing questions about the anemic representation of the Liberals in our military. But that would be too easy. Well it would wouldn’t it? Its amusing when the “elitists” put on their bent thinking caps and manage to shot themselves in the foot. I’m also amused at the way they move the goal posts constantly, as each of their rhetorical “non-issue” issues fade away. Lexiconal gymnastics, such as labeling anyone who is willing to fight for home and hearth as “pro-war”. Thats like labeling surgeons as bondage/pain lovers because they cut and operate on ailing patients. Its just stupid. If Conservatives (whom already outnumber those on the left 50:1 in the Miltary) cannot serve for a wide range of honest reasons are to be called “Chickenhawks”, then it would follow that Liberals who refuse to serve via a long list of questionable evasions should be called “Chickens**ts”…. But as the 800 lb. Gorilla Dennis says… Thats just my opinion – I could be wrong….:grin:

    15. ArizonaTeach says:

      Jack Roy: I doubt you or any of the writers you link to could cite a case of liberals arguing that conservatives can’t take positions on the war, because I read these things every day and I’m still unaware of any such argument.

      Uh, I call Bulls*$# on that one. When Maureen Dowd says that Cindy Sheehan has an “absolute moral authority” to talk about the war, the implication is that others do not.

      It’s rather that the reluctance of many conservative pro-war types actually to enlist in the service is pretty good reason to doubt the genuineness of their arguments that the war is morally compelling. If they’re not willing to help out, how compelling could it be?

      BS on that one too. You have to be between the ages of 17-34 to enlist. Hell, you have to be in relatively good shape, for that matter. I just make the age cut off, but I could certainly use some more gym time (I guess you could say I’m chickenhawkish about eating healthy. I likes me my carbs).

      What infuriates liberals is that we have an administration so devoid of military service that appears quite blithe to the consequences of war, to say nothing of their pajamaed online supporters.

      Oh COME THE FRICK OFF IT. Not serving was perfectly all right when Clinton was sending troops into harm’s way. And nobody gets to call anyone “blithe” in the same sentence they call bloggers “pajamaed.”

      The real argument against the pro-war side is, “You only want to talk about the ostensible benefits of having gone to war, but don’t want to acknowledge the heavy costs involved. I don’t think that’s surprising, because you’ve never been willing to bear the burden of war yourself, and I doubt that you’re taking into account everything you ought to be considering when deciding whether war is a good idea. That’s shoddy policy-making, and it’s especially lamentable in such weighty affairs.”

      I don’t doubt for a moment that you believe this. However, how you can say that this is what Michael Moore means when he gleefully calls people chickenhawks is beyond me. That is NOT the argument against the pro-war crowd, that’s the justification when they have to face their own hypocrisy. And anyway, it’s not true. We acknowledge the costs, and how DARE you say we don’t.

      But we get concerned that your attention spans don’t stretch beyond “Support the troops!” and we have to shorten it.

      As opposed to the tantric-like “Bush Lied” and “No blood for oil”. Or my favorite liberal lie, “We support the troops!”

      Sigh. I don’t know why I bother. I wonder if anyone’s going to pay attention to this?

      Don’t worry, the libs will get distracted by a Karl Rove rumor and forget all this ever happened.

    16. Baklava says:

      Jack Roy wrote, “and I’m still unaware of any such argument.”

      I’m unaware of liberals stating it’s war for oil too. JK.

      Jack Roy paints the picture we’re talking about by writing, “It’s rather that the reluctance of many conservative pro-war types actually to enlist in the service is pretty good reason to doubt the genuineness of their arguments “

      Thanks Jack for providing the option for us to not look up this tactic on other web pages….

      Jack wrote, “Like it or not, war is a matter of grave consequence.

      Who is saying it’s not Jack. I’m unaware of anyone (this is not JK) who thinks this is just a whim decision including Bush.

      Jack incorrectly wrote, “What infuriates liberals is that we have an administration so devoid of military service

      There’s a list out there that compares the past administration and this administration’s military experience and it was more than the past one. I won’t go through the effort of finding and posting the link because you haven’t shown reading comprehension aptitude anyway.

      You go on to repeat the inability to recognize that conservatives do undertand the heavy burden. Unfortunately for America it’s been a heavier burden as you give propoganda to the enemy and uplift their energy with doom and gloom speak. They go on feeling that they are this close “” to swaying our country to leave because you guys keep saying the darndest things and for what? The question comes back around to the SERIOUS question Jack…. What would happen if we pull our troops out today? How is your argument productive or helpful to the problem.

      Your rhetoric (as most on the left) is not helpful.

    17. web_geek says:

      ST – This is off topic for this thread, but please humor me. I can’t post on the thread that we were previously debating on.

      Do you think that asking every person that boards a plane in the US to take off their shoes is an effective method to battle terrorism?

      Thanks,
      WG

      WG, you’re really pushing it with me tonight. First, was your sarcastic remark/question in the “Prayers and Thoughts” post about the closing of the Sheehan thread. I dunno about you, but generally when I see a thread asking for prayers for someone, if I want to offer consoling words or prayers I’ll offer them in that thread. If I didn’t want to, I would *not* instead use it as a base for complaints/sarcastic remarks about the contentious issues discussed elsewhere on the blog.

      Do you realize how rude (not to mention insensitive) that is? It was a thread offering *prayers* and consoling words to a fellow blogger about his brother who only has a 5% chance to live due to being rediagnosed with leukemia. What do you do? Do you offer any prayers of your own? Any consoling words? No. You attempt to hijack it and turn it into a discussion about a thread that I closed for reasons stated in that thread. Do you even care that there are other things going on in the world outside of the war in Iraq? I have to say I’m a bit surprised at you, considering that out of all the gang of AA blog commenters who came here to this blog after the Sheehan link was posted there, you showed the ability to debate respectfully and maturely. I deleted the post in that thread, rather than address your rudeness in that thread because it wasn’t the place to do it. So I’m doing it here. I suspect you know I deleted it, which is why you chose yet another thread in an attempt to go at it again.

      Please stop.

      To repeat: I closed that thread for the reasons stated in that thread. If I had wanted to continue discussing it, I would have left it open. You are skating on very thin ice with me at the moment, because I’m not really happy with the insensitivity you displayed in the prayer thread. If others want to comment on your question in this thread, fine – I am leaving it up. But because you’ve ticked me off, you won’t get an answer from me tonight (which I wouldn’t doubt gets reported back to the AA blog as “ST is dodging my question!”) when that couldn’t be farther from the truth. My advice to you is this: if I close a thread, don’t go looking for other posts in which to re-start them via the comments section. Please respect my wishes on this matter. I’m asking you nicely to do so.

    18. Baklava says:

      It has effectiveness. On a scale of 0-100, it’s not 0. There have been modified shoes with the ability to store things.

      If you don’t like it you can either a) not fly b) try to change the rules that whomever made or c) complain about them and fly and get mad at Bush.

      I’m sure there are other options but you get my drift.

      My question is – Why would anyone have to answer that question other than the people responsible for making the rules? I think 90% of people would rank it’s effectiveness somewhere between 1 and 100 and not ZERO.

    19. Umnumzana says:

      My family on both sides has defended this country, in uniform, since the Revoltionary War. Recently, my father commaded a ship in WW-II, my oldest brother Korea, my middle brother and I Vietnam. I offered to go to Iraq and dig ditches, latrines, or any dirty job they might need. The Pentagon wasn’t too enthusiastic! Yet, the liberals tell me I have no right to my opinion about the war. Why? Because I am a conservative, too stupid to live and I should shut up and let the intellectual left tell me what to think!

    20. web_geek says:

      ST – I didn’t realize I was being rude. I’m used to discussing topics on a thread that have nothing to do with the topic. We’re accepting that way. I’m also used to neo-cons coming to the AAR blog that insult veterans and think that autistic children are sex toys. So please forgive me.

      Do you offer any prayers of your own? Any consoling words? No.

      You have no idea what I do in my life to “support the troups” so how DARE you accuse me of not caring about the world outside of Iraq! You’re “a bit surprised at me?” You don’t know me in the least bit. I’ve been absolutely respectful here on your blog. I disagree with most of what you believe in and I’ve never uttered a foul word or attacked anyone personally. The fact that you have decided to smack me down for posting on a thread of a different topic speaks VOLUMES. I never intended any disrespect to anyone, certainly not anyone that is suffering in any way. You should be ashamed for even accusing me of such a thing. Don’t hang me up for a beating.

      Please stop.

      Please stop what? Stop posting? Stop posting on the wrong thread? Please let me know. I’ll follow you’re rules.

      Delete my posts as you will. It’s your blog.

    21. web_geek says:

      ST- Please let me know where I can post my last question to you. The one about shoes at the airport.

      Thanks,
      WG

      Repeating: Please stop bringing this up to me. You’ve asked the question already in this thread and have rec’d a response from Baklava. You read my last post to you and I told you why I wasn’t responding to your question – as a matter of principle. Please don’t make me have to ask you again. –ST

    22. “ST – I didn’t realize I was being rude. I’m used to discussing topics on a thread that have nothing to do with the topic. We’re accepting that way. I’m also used to neo-cons coming to the AAR blog that insult veterans and think that autistic children are sex toys. So please forgive me.”

      Yes, I’ve noticed how “accepting” they are at the AAR blog, including calling people (conservatives) who don’t even post there “chickensh!t chickenhawks.” But this isn’t thte AAR blog. It’s my blog.

      “You have no idea what I do in my life to “support the troups” so how DARE you accuse me of not caring about the world outside of Iraq! ”

      Save your righteous indignation. I didn’t say anything about your support for the troops. Have no idea where you got that (but it’ll sound really good on a reposting at the AAR blog, I’m sure, because it’ll make it look like I was questioning your patriotism). It just seemed to me in a thread that was meant to be about prayers and thoughts for a fellow blogger who has a sick brother you’d have said something about it rather than sidetracking to a completely unrelated issue. So stop flipping out because I questioned whether or not you cared about anything else in this world outside of Iraq. Because you don’t talk about much of anything else, not even in a prayer thread.

      “You don’t know me in the least bit.”

      I know enough to know that what you did tonight was rude and insensitive. That’s really all I need to know.

      “I disagree with most of what you believe in and I’ve never uttered a foul word or attacked anyone personally. The fact that you have decided to smack me down for posting on a thread of a different topic speaks VOLUMES.”

      I certainly hope it did – and hope the volume was turned up loud.

      “I never intended any disrespect to anyone, certainly not anyone that is suffering in any way.”

      I thought it was pretty common knowledge that discussions about sending well wishes/prayers to someone else shouldn’t deviate into discussions about unrelated contentious issues.

      “You should be ashamed for even accusing me of such a thing.”

      I’m not ashamed of what I said. You, however, should be ashamed of attempting to hijack that thread. Whether it happens or not on the AAR blog is really immaterial – it’s standard operating procedure in threads calling for prayers to usually be considered off limits for contentious discussion.

      “Don’t hang me up for a beating.”

      I’m not “hanging you out” for anything. You know what you did, perhaps feel a bit embarassed by it (?),and are mad at me for pointing it out.

      “Please stop what? Stop posting? Stop posting on the wrong thread? Please let me know. I’ll follow you’re rules.”

      Please stop bringing it up to me.

      “Delete my posts as you will. It’s your blog.”

      The one this evening was the only one I’ve deleted from you and you know why.

      I suggest that we drop this now. You’ve explained yourself, and I’ve explained myself and that’s that. Anymore questions about this, please email me.

    23. - I would never for the world cause you stress Sistah… but bare with me this once…I can’t help it…

      – Taking off my shoes on an airplane would, in itself, probably qualify as an act of terrorism…. with weapons of mass evacuation….:shock:

    24. - Well maybe I exaggerated a little…. but if that idea catches on I’m thinking 235 people on a 747 with their shoes off…. that alone would be enough to cause the hi-jackers to take a train…. Remember a lot of those people have been standing in long security lines for maybe am hour or two…. When the stwerards make their rounds I hope they hand out warm towels for pedi-baths instead of Macadamia nuts….:smile:

    25. web_geek says:

      Goodbye, web_geek. Have fun discussing me at the AA blog. –ST

    26. - ST – time to pull a certain underage trolls wallplug….

    27. Jack Roy says:

      Wow! You people are touch-ee! Curious how little it takes to set off a “No soup for you” reaction. Say what you will about Atrios, he’s at least got the stuff to listen to criticism, even snarky criticism.

      Thanks so much for demonstrating the point made in my posts as well as the articles I linked up to.

      Um, okay. But I still don’t see your point. Is any liberal really saying “you’re not allowed to express your opinion”?

      AZTeach:

      When Maureen Dowd says that Cindy Sheehan has an “absolute moral authority” to talk about the war, the implication is that others do not.

      I’m going to skip the next two steps and just assume that the best you could do was an “implication” is evidence you couldn’t find anyone actually saying it. Can you really not think of another interpretation of Dowd’s comment? Like, Dowd was just being emphatic? That’s a woeful failure of imagination.

      BS on that one too. You have to be between the ages of 17-34 to enlist. Hell, you have to be in relatively good shape….

      How is this convincing? You would have us believe the greatest part of the burden of military service is the fitness test? If you’re willing to sacrifice four years to serve your country, you oughta be willing to lose the weight. I know a lot of war skeptics who served; they got in shape.

      Or my favorite liberal lie, “We support the troops!”

      Sigh. I still don’t know why I bother. I shall repeat the obvious: There is a difference between supporting the troops and supporting the war. There’s a difference between both and supporting America. It is frustrating for liberals when conservatives make arguments that presuppose that those who oppose the war thereby do not support the troops, or support America. It’s unfair, reductive, and appeals to visceral gut instinct instead of reason—which makes turnabout fair play when we respond: “Buh-kaaawk! Chicken hawk!”

      Baklava:

      Nevermind, actually. I was going to complain that you were omitting text from some of my sentences when you quoted them, thereby distorting the meaning, but I noticed you aren’t that fond of completing your own sentences, either. Consider that complaint cheerfully withdrawn!

      Now, let’s get to the real fluff, er, “stuff”:

      You go on to repeat the inability to recognize that conservatives do undertand the heavy burden.

      Seriously? Use a dictionary, or be more careful when you type. This is atrocious syntax. One does not “repeat” an “inability” so often as an accusation of an inability, for one. Second, the object of your predicate is dangling, which I didn’t even know was possible. Whose “inability”? Conservatives? Liberals? Mine? Yours? Lastly, “burden” is one of those relational words that really only works well in context. Burden of what? Please try harder next time; millions of English teachers get a little bit closer to early retirement every time you mangle a phrase like this.

      Unfortunately for America it’s been a heavier burden as you give propoganda to the enemy and uplift their energy with doom and gloom speak.

      Again, speak precisely. “Uplift their energy” is language for video games with bad Japanese-to-English translations. Do you mean we inspire them? Improve their morale? Motivate them, persuade them they are near victory? Those would be respectable accusations, at least.

      Unfortunately, they’d be entirely speculative. Try as I might, I never read about Iraqi insurgents issuing statements like “Because Michael Moore has so convinced the country our cause is noble….” Indeed, whenever I do hear reference to Americans that are really peeving the Iraqis, it’s inevitably Bush who’s doing it! (I suppose they could be involved in one great big conspiracy of silence, though….) Surely you must admit there’s a problem with any theory that hasn’t a shred of evidence tending to corroborate it, no?

      They go on feeling that they are this close “” to swaying our country to leave because you guys keep saying the darndest things and for what?

      First, use thisclose. See how much more clearly that expresses what you’re trying to say? Quotation marks have a semi-technical meaning of ibid.; it’s a little confusing when someone reads that.

      Second, I very much doubt we’re anywhere near swaying our country to pull out of Iraq. We’ve been saying the obvious—that the war’s a bad idea—and rather loudly so for years now; has it persuaded our Commander-in-Chief even to consider the idea?

      Third, “the darndest [sic] things”? Cute. But Bill Cosby wants his sweater back.

      Fourth, for what? Surely you can’t be this dense. Those who say “bring the troops home” have in mind the objective of bringing the troops home. For what? For what we’re asking for. Remember: Rhetorical questions are useful, but they must be actually rhetorical.

      The question comes back around to the SERIOUS question Jack…. What would happen if we pull our troops out today?

      A girl can dream, can’t she? Well, you insist this is “SERIOUS.” What do you think would happen? I haven’t the foggiest notion, really, and I think that’s the only honest answer from anyone who’s not a bona fide expert in the Middle East. It’s entirely possible Iraq would be ordinarily calm the day we pulled out; it’s entirely possible it would immediately erupt into civil war and anarchy. But both of those things are possible with us staying, too! I get you like to pretend to play grown-up with these “SERIOUS” ideas, but you fail to understand that what makes something serious isn’t that there’s a car chase scene and a shootout at the end, but rather that the questions are hard and require difficult thought. What would happen? What, indeed? But next you must consider the consequences of all your other options, including what you’re doing now. Does every other option look so terrible from where we are now that we’ve got no choice but to keep going in this terrific mess? If so, I imagine you’d be pretty ticked off at the people who got you where you are now, huh?

      How is your argument productive or helpful to the problem.

      Clear reasoning, kid. It’s helpful to every problem. Wash away all the cobwebs, stop believing that every criticism emboldens the enemy, stop believing that those who believe other than you hate the troops and hate America, sit down and think about what you know is real and provable and what is mere ideology. You’ll figure something out.

      You bring up some interesting points that I’m sure will be addressed, but I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t criticize any alleged grammar or spelling issues in the future. It’s an unnecessary sidtracking of the discussion. I’m sure you’ve made a few and probably wouldn’t be too keen on someone mentioning it more than necessary. — ST

    28. Jack Roy says:

      Please don’t link to liberal blogs here. I don’t want to give them traffic, no matter how small the number. I’ll likely start a ‘blogroll’ of sorts soon for liberal blogs who’s opinion I respect. The one you linked up to won’t be one of them. –ST

    29. Jack, the implication is very clear – as AT stated. Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not true. It’s kinda like all those people who say it’s wrong to criticize a president in a time of war. The people doing the criticizing naturally assume that the implication is that the people saying that just want them to shut up. Sometimes, they’re right. Sometimes they’re not.

    30. Baklava says:

      Jack wrote, “Wow! You people are touch-ee!

      :shock:

      …and you are quite high strung. I wasn’t working towards a perfect english paper. Why write to you if you can’t understand the concepts of what people are writing to you about.

      No input from me to you anymore………

      You’re too anal.

    31. Baklava says:

      Jack wrote, “I haven’t the foggiest notion, really”

      We know. That’s the problem with liberals. They DON’T look at the results of thier policies….

    32. Jack Roy says:

      Wow, zing, Baklava! Liberals don’t look at results—you, young sir, are possessed of a political insight not seen since Tocqueville! You really can’t justify wasting your talents here online—go! go at once! and lead your generation!

      Sister Told Jah (what’s with the Rasta reference, first off?) —

      I’m sure I do make grammatical errors from time to time, and certainly would be embarrassed. English is, after all, the language that I speak. But respect for the public sphere and all that; why should we acquiesce in the coarsening and dumbing-down of American public discourse? (By the way, “sidetrack” and “whose.” “Who’s” is a contraction for “who is,” not a possessive. My apologies if you find this distracting, but my inner English major simply has to say something.) But I’m not entirely being cute; there’s not enough of a premium paid for correct or even understandable grammar. Look at Baklava’s rejoinder: “Why write to you if you can’t understand the concepts of what people are writing to you about.” Partially incoherent. And also all too common. It used to be conservatives who lamented the decline of American education.

      Jack, the implication is very clear….

      No, frankly, it’s not. There are some people who want to hear intolerance in every innocent comment, and they have made many American colleges into intolerable shrines to political correctness. It’s sad to see the same tendency slip into wider political discourse. But feel free to ban all the comments you like; it’s your blog, and it’d be a real shame if you couldn’t use it to reinforce what you already believe. Sigh.

      But just in case one of your readers doesn’t think the best response to ideas is to “ignore them,” I’ll explain.

      When Maureen Dowd says that Cindy Sheehan has an “absolute moral authority” to talk about the war, the implication is that others do not.

      In order to believe this, you have to believe that an “absolute” quality is not just superlative (that means highest or to the greatest degree, Baklava), but exclusive of all others. To give an example, using “absolute” in this way, if I say that I just say the “absolutely funniest movie ever,” I wouldn’t just be saying that no other movie is as funny as the movie I just saw, but that no other movie is funny at all. That’s not what it means, though, and nor does someone having “absolute moral authority” to speak imply that no one else has any authority to speak whatsoever.

      Think about this: If Maureen Dowd were really saying that Sheehan’s example meant pro-war types can’t speak (and no one’s ever maintained that they can’t speak, only that they can’t spell) because they hadn’t also lost children in the war, wouldn’t that also imply that anti-war types who hadn’t lost children would be without authority? And yet no one thinks she meant that.

      But perhaps I’m missing something. If there’s some explanation for the “implication” that is in fact “very clear,” I’d welcome the chance to hear it.

    33. Re: the implication, it’s already been explained to you by both myself and AT in the simplest of terms. It’s not that you “don’t get it” – you just don’t want to “get it”, probably because you’re on the other side of the fence on this issue.

      And I asked you once to please stop correcting grammatical/spelling errors. Is there a particular reason you did it again in spite of my request? Also, don’t lecture me about the “decline in education” because I really don’t think that’s why you went out of your way to correct these “mistakes” – it’s just your own way of throwing out a cheap shot against your debate opponent because your real argument is weak. I’m going to ask you once more not to do it again. Stick to addressing the issue at hand, please, instead of chastising people for being less than perfect with grammar and spelling.

    34. Jack Roy says:

      Cheap shot, haughty disdain… Tomay-to, tomah-to, eh? Fine, never again shall I correct the grammar of a generation that, to my eye, desparately needs it. But that’s an odd thing to take so personally, I must say.

      I’m going to point out what should be obvious: You haven’t explained anything about the implication. You merely keep insisting that the implication has been explained. See your post of 8/18 at 3:02—there’s absolutely nothing there that resembles an “explanation,” even in passing. (Please don’t take this as a grammatical lesson. I’d hate for you to think that.)

      I’ve posted my objection above, 8/19 at 11:49am. Shortly, “absolute” doesn’t imply “exclusive,” and the statement that someone has “absolute moral authority” doesn’t at all mean that she is the only person with any such authority. If you have any rejoinder, I’d love to hear it.

      But in the meantime, I’m just going to solace in the fact that the only statement any of you could find of liberals telling conservatives who hadn’t served that they therefore had no standing to support the war was (a) a single statement from Maureen Dowd, and (b) to put it charitably, at best only obliquely in support of that sentiment, and assume that I needn’t really worry too much about the charge. Feel free to prove me wrong.

    35. docdave says:

      Jack Roy, ol’ sod, you sure use up a lot of band width saying almost nothing. As far as the war is concerned, in case you have the short memory span that most liberals seem to have. WE WERE ATTACKED AND NOW WE ARE FIGHTING BACK TAKING THE WAR TO THE ENEMY!!!! The war is against Islamic terrorists where ever they be and Iraq is just one phase of the war. Get used to it because it ain’t going to be over for a long time regardless who is in the White House.

    36. Jack Roy says:

      Right, because Saddam was behind September 11….
      Oh, wait.

    37. Wrong again, Jack. I shouldn’t have to break it down in layman’s terms for you to understand the implication. You refuse to see it – that’s fine. That doesn’t mean it’s not there. I’m not going to convince you otherwise, so please dispense with the “trying to understand” bit because I don’t really think you are which is why I’m not going to post repeatedly what I’ve said before about the implication.

    38. Jack Roy says:

      G’bye, Jack, and good riddance to your patronizing attitude as well. –ST

    39. Me says:

      Either lost or ignored in this back-and-forth was the fact that even assuming the “implication” was there exactly how some described it, only one statement was found with so much as an implication.

    40. Craig Lueschow says:

      As I have said elsewhere. I counter the argument that i cannot speak on the war because of the ‘chickenhawk’ argument with an equally abusurd argument. A person against the war cannot oppose the war until they first sacrifice one of their children to the torture chambers used by the regimes they so vigorously defend.
      CHOW

    41. Rob Douth says:

      I would rather be a chickenhawk than a liberal chicken. :)

    42. Baklava says:

      Jack Roy wrote, “Right, because Saddam was behind September 11

      I generalize because I can. Here’s one more generalization:

      Only liberals write and verbalize Saddam was behind September 11th. Of course in a chastising way.

      No conservative that I know has EVER claimed that Saddam was behind 9/11.

      This is a Global War on Terror (GWOT). And in this GWOT only 12 Senators didn’t vote for the action in Iraq. It wasn’t unilateral. And all of the statements Bush made were made by Kerry, Albright, Clinton and other Democrats. If we can ever get exactly what was Bush’s lie out of a Democrat (we can’t) you can also see years worth of statements by top Democrats saying the same thing.

      GWOT means more than just who did 9/11. It means we are taking the war to terrorists period. And in a 100 different ways. Only 1 of them is what the media is reporting on.

      It is perfectly acceptable for people (liberals) to be against the war. State that you are against it and maybe even reasons why. Where you guys go overboard is by claiming that the CIC lied or that the war is illegal or that Gitmo is like the Gulag, etc. Every time you liberals MANUFACTURER things like this and try to convince apathetic folks into hating Bush and voting against him next time you actually hurt your cause as well. People can see through your tactics. Even though it might be grammatically correct. :oops:

    43. Me says:

      Only liberals write and verbalize Saddam was behind September 11th. Of course in a chastising way.

      Actually, I read that an uncomfortably high percentage of people mixed up Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

      It wasn’t unilateral.

      Poland?

      And all of the statements Bush made were made by Kerry, Albright, Clinton and other Democrats.

      What/where/when? And even if they did, how does that justify anything?

      GWOT means more than just who did 9/11. It means we are taking the war to terrorists period. And in a 100 different ways. Only 1 of them is what the media is reporting on.

      Yes, but I thought the idea was to root out the terrorists who posed imminent threats to the U.S. The media is reporting on the most recent invasion and occupation of a country, not “just one way of fighting terrorism.” Besides, the media just reports on what’s popular, anyway.