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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Our Political Dilemma In A Nutshell

Bob of Liberative posts in wrath and sorrow:
Apparently 3/4 of the Democrats in the House thuink that political correctness is more important than properly describing people and organizations which really, really want to kill as many free people as possible.
He goes on to describe the voting on Hoekstra's amendment (via CounterTerrorism):
Hoekstra's amendment condemned efforts by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC), and the State Department to recommend a "terror lexicon" that prohibits use of words such as "Jihad," "jihadist," "Islamist," "mujahadeen," "caliphate," etc. In this amendment, Congressman Hoekstra called for the House of Representatives to prohibit the use of intelligence funding in support of such "terror lexicon" efforts.
178 Democrats and 2 Republicans wouldn't vote to prevent the bureaucrats from attempting to Brave New World our language, and as Bob notes:
I am beginning to understand the total contempt in which the Left is held by the Right-wing blogosphere. This should have been unanimously approved - and more to the point, should never have been needed in the first place.
55 Democrats voted for the amendment so it's not all lost.

Our dilemma is that we need two viable parties to keep our political system running smoothly, and these ratios suggest that we really don't have two viable parties. We cannot function with this preponderance of representatives who believe controlling language can control reality. Either we roll a substantive portion of such seats back to old-time Democrats, or we are going to have to start a new third party.

Even if you are a die-hard Republican, you have to recognize the reality that a party which just gets elections handed to it won't have the checks and balances needed to keep its own nose to the grindstone. Without meaningful opposition the GOP will become wacky and arrogant.

As Hoekstra commented (source link at CounterTerrorism):
"Al Qaeda itself uses these terms to describe its fight against America, our allies, and moderate Muslims around the world. Why then would we prohibit our intelligence professionals from using the same words to accurately describe al Qaeda's stated goals?"

"Yet that is exactly what some in Washington are attempting to do. I was dismayed to learn that over the past few months, intelligence bureaucrats at the State Department, the National Counterterrorism Center, and the Department of Homeland Security have issued memos imposing speech codes on how their employees can describe al Qaeda and other radical jihadist groups. They won't even be able to use the words these groups use themselves to describe themselves. These agencies within the intelligence community won't be able to use those words."

"Mr. Chairman, free speech should not be controversial, nor should candid, accurate, and fair discussion of the self-professed goals of the terrorists that attack our homeland and have sworn to kill more Americans."
"How will America understand the nature and the character of our enemy if we can’t use the words that they use to describe themselves and we need to come up with a whole new language that is totally out of context with the enemy and the nature of the threat that we face today?"
The list of all the representatives who voted against the amendment is posted at CounterTerrorism. In that list I found some GA representatives - John Barrow, Sanford Bishop, Henry Johnson, John Lewis, and David Scott.

For the other side of the story, here are two of the documents generated about appropriate terminology.

Stuff like (from the second link):
The same is true of the moniker "Islamist" (or the related "Islamism"), which many have used to refer to individuals who view Islam as a political system in addition to a religion. The experts we consulted did not criticize this usage based on accuracy; indeed, they acknowledged that academics and commentators, including some in the Arab and Muslim Worlds, regularly use "Islamist" to describe people and movements. Nevertheless, they caution that it may not be strategic for USG of£icials to use the term because the general public, including overseas audiences, may not appreciate the academic distinction between Islamism and Islam. In the experts' estimation, this may still be true: albeit to a lesser extent, even if government officials add qualifiers, e.g. "violent Islamists" or "radical Islamism."
doesn't seem quite right. What they are really saying is that we'll offend people if we speak accurately, and this seems extremely close to the Danish situation. We should think twice before agreeing to suppress our own culture in order to placate another.

From the first document:
Don't Invoke Islam: Although the al-Qaida network exploits religious sentiments and tries to use religion to justify its actions, we should treat it as an illegitimate political organization, both terrorist and criminal.
Keep the focus on the Terrorist, not us. Change the discussion from "the West vs. Islam'' or a "Clash of Civilizations" to the fight between civilization as a whole and terrorists. We need to emphasize that terrorists misuse religion as a political tool to harm innocent civilians across the globe.
I think this document comes off as a more legitimate attempt to control imagery in the target audience's mind. However, it begs the question a bit, doesn't it? If we do not address the "Islamic" part of the ideology motivating such organizations, there will be no distinction formed between Muslim schools that differ from these interpretations. Furthermore, this is an exceptionally bad strategy for dealing with domestic Islam, which includes those of both schools. I also feel that this approach is irrationally condescending towards Muslims in all nations, whose thinking and cultures are almost infinitely more varied and multi-faceted than the documents above would suggest. Treating Muslims and Muslim cultures as determined by their lowest common denominator is as stupid as treating the West as if the western cultures are guided solely by the stupidest among these societies.

Anyway, if you read many ME sources, there is a real debate going on, and it is not a trivial, ignorant debate. Try Mideast Youth and start with this post about Samir Kuntar, and follow it with this one.

MoM "The Republican party might become wacky and arrogant"? How WOULD you describe it? And your statement that we need two viable parties implies that we have one,and unless the Monster Raving Loony party has taken off lately,I don't see it.
Tom - no, I really meant that the way our political system is constructed, we need competition, and for that we need two parties between which we can freely swap control.

I don't think the GOP is as off-base on some issues as the Dems now appear - but I do believe that Congress was dysfunctional under Republican leadership and is probably somewhat more dysfunctional under Democratic leadership.

I have a hunch that the Dem politicians in a lot of local areas aren't nearly as wacky as some of the DC Dems.

I find it extremely interesting that GA Dems voted against this amendment, because it stands in sharp contrast to the mood of the great majority of their constituents.

Tom, both parties in Congress have connived at evading some of our major problems and creating new ones. There are NO HEROES here. Every time they go bipartisan we get another load of complete, disgusting failure.

This is one reason that I'm less invested in the presidential election. What really matters is Congress.
Note that I wrote "will become wacky and arrogant", not "might".
MoM,"are wacky and arrogant" fits both parties right now.And as far as the Dems in my part of california.We got lynn woolsey who is reasonably sincere,but umm,naive.we got Lady DiFi who has most of the ethical sense of a weasel in rut and a husband who is a big time war profiteer,and Pelosi who is Marginally more rational than rush limbaugh,if spineless and perhaps competent to pour piss out of a boot if someone else read the instructions on the heel.winners all in this,the best gerrymandered state in the union.Better than texas,I kid you not.
We cannot function with this preponderance of representatives who believe controlling language can control reality.

See "Principles of Newspeak", by G.Orwell.
Hey M_O_M,

Thanks for the links to Medeastyouth - very interesting.

The 2nd link was a little troubling in it's moral equivalency of Al-Quaeda, US, and IDF troops, but it's overall renunciation of violence in favor of peaceful change was encouraging. And given the education/propoaganda in the ME, maybe this is probably as good as can be hoped for. (Even more troubling is that the first thing I noticed was how cool the terrorist's AK was set up - this gun "enthusiast" thing may be getting out of hand....)

I do consider the neo-cons "wacky and arrogant" (the refusal to honor Congressional subpoenas or allow enforcement of contempt of congress charges seem particularly corrosive to the check and balances), but "wacky and arrogant" seems to cover a lot of ground on the left as well. (Speaking as a "bitter" gun-owner!)

And you're right - "bi-partisan agreement" has become synonomous with "wrong-headed, special-interest-motivated crappy stuff" - from "comprehensive immigration reform" through the economic stimulus package and the latest "Housing and FRE/FNM Bailout" abomination about to emerge from the slime pool of DC.
Congress as a whole has gotten wacky and arrogant. They are all too confident about staying in power to worry much about the real concerns of the population. Heck, they don't even want to try to figure them out. The spirit in Congress is clearly that the peons should just shut up and pull their cats.

I wonder if in part the problem is due to leadership? I wouldn't have expected this vote at all.

If the first thing you looked at was the rifle, the gun thing is getting out of hand. Just buy a few to get it out of your system!
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