Monday, September 26, 2005

Fisking the Left: My First Attempt

Below is my answer to a list of assumptions about Republican beliefs written by a misled author from the liberal website buzzflash.com. This was forwarded to me a while ago, as some of the content is a bit dated. In any case, I immediately tried to respond to each point, sort of like a “fisking”. Overall, it was a fun exercise in determining whether I could competently answer a variety of arguments. First, the list in question:

Things you have to believe to be a Republican today:

  1. Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him,

  2. a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him,

  3. a good guy when Cheney did business with him

  4. and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.

  5. Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist, but trade with China and Viet Nam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

  6. The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing UN resolutions against Iraq.

  7. A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multinational corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation

  8. Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.

  9. The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

  10. If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

  11. A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our longtime allies, then demand their cooperation and money.

  12. Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy. Providing health care to all Americans is socialism.

  13. HMOs and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.

  14. Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.

  15. A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense.

  16. A president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.

  17. Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

  18. The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's driving record is none of our business.

  19. Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness, and you need our prayers for your recovery.

  20. You support states' rights, which means Attorney General John Ashcroft can tell states what local voter initiatives they have the right to adopt.

  21. What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '80s is irrelevant.

Now, my answers:

Things you have to believe to be a Republican today:

Things you don't have to always believe to be Republican today.The Republican party is a big tent. There are conservatives and there are liberals within. Some are socially conservative and fiscally liberal. Others are socially liberal and fiscally conservative. And there are those who are both socially liberal and fiscally liberal, who are often called RINO's (Republicans In Name Only eg. Mayor Mike Bloomberg of NYC). Like any political party bent on winning elections, ideological conformity is not nearly as important as including as many different constituents as possible. Yet they agree on limited government control, enhancement of personal and economic freedom, and a strong national defense.

1) Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him,

Saddam was was the best of three awful choices: Islamic terrorist theocracy (Iran) Arabic Socialist Fascism (Iraq) and Soviet Communism. The circumstances at the time required the U.S.'s commited opposition to the Soviet Union and Khomenini's Iran. Besides, the amount of military assistance from the U.S. was tiny compared to assistance it received from Germany and France, as well as Russia later on. Using the same rationale, you could argue that Stalin was Roosevelt's friend to defeat the Nazis, while he was Truman's enemy for turning into our Cold War foe. In foreign policy, you deal with the cards you are dealt.

2) a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him,

He ran over Kuwait without warning, threatening global oil supply and general stability of the Middle East. Saudi Arabia had no defense against Saddam's built-up army. Sure we'd love to leave the Middle-east high and dry, but if the U.S. were to do it now, goodbye to your convenient lifestyle as you know it--no job, no goods, no car, nothing. Until you can prove that an alternate source of energy can take on the immense scale or the world's economy and industry, what goes on in the Middle East is the WORLD'S business.

3) a good guy when Cheney did business with him

Not true. Show conclusive proof, please. I don't know why as Secretary of Defense he would want to do business with a guy he helped to destroy. Anyway, as CEO of Halliburton, he could not trade with Iraq as they were under sanctions.

4) and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.

Saddam was always a bad guy, but getting rid of him was necessary after September 11th. The assertion that the War on Terror is exclusive to capturing Bin Laden is dangerously myopic. If we could get rid of bin Laden 3 years ago or 20 years into the future, it doesn't change the fact that Saddam was an emerging threat. How? His regime had the resources and intent to produce WMDs, and was not reluctant to share these weapons with terrorist groups. His covert collaboration with diverse terrorist groups is well documented. As commander in chief, it would be reckless to trust a madman for America's security.

5) Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist, but trade with China and Viet Nam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

America's embargo with Cuba dates to John F. Kennedy, everybody's favorite democrat. China and Vietnam have mostly abandoned totalitarian communism in favor of markets, and have agreed to enforce general rules of free trade. Cuba still governs itself as a totalitarian state, is more ruthless with political dissenters, and have made little effort to open its economy to rules of free trade. He has maintained his opposition to the U.S. for over five decades, as that is the source of its power. Cuba has collaborated with every effort to subvert American foreign policy, from the Cuban Missile Crisis, to Grenada, and Central American civil wars. If Castro wants to enjoy the fruits of American investment and trade it's his call. Problem is, once he makes that call his power and party are immediately undermined.

6) The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing UN resolutions against Iraq.

Most Republicans believe that the U.N. is irrelevant and actually a counterproductive force to American national security. Republicans mostly cringed when the president went back to the UN to enforce twelve-year old resolutions on Iraq. President had faith that the world body was intent on enforcing resolutions, but discovered that when push came to shove, most countries didn't. Bush got a lot of heat from members of his own party about this move, but they also realize that it was one of the few choices left to persuade for foreign assistance in meeting the threat. The president was trying to "save" the UN by making it a body of enforcement, rather than an inert debating society. The UN's impotence regarding the Darfur region in Sudan is evidence among many of the governing body's insignificance. The whole UN run up to the Iraq war shows that far from being a dictatorial maniac, Bush is willing to compromise and negotiate, and work through official channels of diplomacy. France, Russia, and China, who have permanent seats in the Security Council have NEVER consulted with the U.N. on any of their military exploits. The U.S. is the only country to have done so, with both Iraq wars, Afghanistan and Korea. The U.S.'s record on this isn't perfect as the Vietnam War and Kosovo went on without UN approval, conflicts led by Democratic presidents (LBJ & Clinton).

7) A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multinational corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.

Those two statements are totally unrelated, which is evidence that the arguments are weak. Some Republicans are concerned about life and death, because governments have the power to enforce laws regarding life and death. To say one is for choice is to avoid considering what constitutes life. Some Republicans are nonetheless pro-choice, and are welcomed as leading figures in the Republican party, eg. Schwarzenegger and Giuliani. You're free to draw your own conclusions regarding the rights of the unborn, but a majority of the population doesn't describe the act of abortion as good thing. Ever wonder why?As for multinational corporations, they are recipients to endless amounts of regulations, so much so that they find they are better off to situate themselves offshore. Besides, the arrival of a multinational corporation in a third world country is actually a boon to the local population, raising their living standards through better pay, safer work and environmental standards, and less back-breaking labor derived from agricultural work. Third World governments can rarely compete and have often destroyed the livelyhoods of their subjects. Ever wonder why anti-globalization protesters are almost always white and middle class? Where are the violated third world protesters?

8) Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.

Christians never put words in the mouth of Jesus. He had nothing to say about homosexuality, and such Biblical opinions derive from the Old Testament and St. Paul's letters. Jesus loves all, including Hillary. I think she attends church regularly.Anyway, the biggest reason why most Republicans dislike Hillary is in that she offends their deepest beliefs in economic freedom and self-made hard work. She has articulated policies of socialistic appeal, which denies an individual's right to make economic choices, and she portrays herself as an archetypal successful woman in spite of her reliance on her husband's success. She acts that she has every right to dictate policy, such as her health-care initiative, without the integrity of an elected office or even a cabinet post. Republicans have found the female ideal in Condoleeza Rice, who apart from speaking fluently several foreign languages, playing the piano on a professional level, ice skating, presiding the University of California, PHD'd Soviet politics and work for many years in government. And she's never been married!

9) The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

Veteran Benefits have never been reduced under Bush. In fact, all military-related expenditures have grown considerably. In any case, everyone in the armed forces VOLUNTEERS to sacrifice their lives for the protection of their country. Some join because of the benefits, but they are stupid if they don't realize that they have agreed to put their lives on the line. Talk to any soldier, and their main desire is not some check from the government, it is to WIN. They want most the encouragement and necessary resources to win, which means they need a commander-in-chief to have confidence in them. Vietnam Vets aren't necessarily dejected because their hospitals are in bad shape. It's mostly that their commanders in chief lost faith in their mission. It is the worst thing for any soldier to bear.

10) If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

Condoms are plentiful, and sex ed is still taught as it always has been. Yet the results of decades of this has been pathetic. STD's continue to rise, teen pregnancy remains a major problem and now oral sex takes place regularly in junior high. Maybe trying another approach might yield better results. We all can agree that no sex equals none the ensuing problems mentioned above. Abstinence is based on the assumptions that you shouldn't have sex until you're older and smart enough to understand what you're doing. The only progress against AIDS in Africa has been reported in Uganda, which used an abstinence-based strategy. Funny, no? Most Republicans do not want to outlaw traditional sex-ed, they just want to supplement it with an alternative perspective.

11) A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our longtime allies, then demand their cooperation and money.

The U.S. has never belittled its allies. One who is guilty of this is the current democratic presidential candidate, declaring the current Iraq Coalition is the one that is "Coerced and Bribed". This is similar to liberal journalists calling the coalition "a bunch of countries bought on Ebay". I'm sure the U.K., Australia, and Poland and three dozen more countries really enjoy hearing that. Another guilty party are our "allies" themselves: western Europeans who sneer at America's lack of nuance, history, culture, and sensitivity. These "allies" have been saying this stuff about America for almost all our history, and maintain a resentful attitude in spite of our bailing them out from the abyss several times in the last century. We also rebuilt Germany and Japan into the second and third largest economies in the world. With all this nastyness, we could afford to crack a few jokes about the French on Jay Leno. Most Republicans believe that, in truth, our allies have little to contribute in troops or money. We know that our allies have made a conscious decision to divert money that would have gone into building a military in favor of a generous social welfare system. Our allies did this because they were counting on American protection. The consequence of this is now clear: when matters of international security are concerned, the say of our allies has little weight because they do not have the military force to back them up. Those countries who believe they do matter in spite of their miniscule projection of force are deluded. Never in the history of mankind has power been so lopsided in favor of one nation. This is reality whether Americans like it or not. For the French to pretend this isn't the case makes them a target for mockery.

12) Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy. Providing health care to all Americans is socialism.

Coalition forces are contributing just enough medicine and basic medical infrastructure so as to prevent widespread disease, hunger, human tragedy brought on by decades of Saddam's neglect and consequent looting. This doesn't come close to the billions the U.S. government spends on healthcare and research. The U.S. wants to make sure that there's enough penicillin in clinics throughout Iraq. At home, our government subsidizes state of the art surgical procedures, miracle drugs, and the best hospitals in the world, all at little or no cost to the very poor (Medicaid) and the very old (Medicare). What Republicans propose is to add more choice in healthcare, less bureaucracy and paperwork, and greater freedom for doctors. Republicans believe that if the individual takes more responsibility in choosing healthcare and examining its cost, better decisions regarding health and more competitive prices for procedures will follow. And I thought liberals were always on the side of the downtrodden...but I guess they could care less about the fortunes of innocents elsewhere in the world.

13) HMOs and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.

Republicans hate HMOs just like everybody else. They see it as preview to what healthcare will be like when it's fully socialized: terrible service, poorly rewarded doctors, rationed care, and an overall lack of choice. Just look north of the border to see how Canada's socialized medicine is faring. Insurance companies have never been much of an influential lobby to Republicans, since they're quote cozy with major political allies like Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) Connecticut, an extremely liberal state, depends for its very livelyhood on insurance companies headquartered there.

14) Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.

Most Republicans believe that global warming is real but the jury's out in regard to its causes. It would not be prudent to set policies that will change dramatically our way of life and prosperity in response to a phenomena we do not truly understand. There have been many examples scientific orthodoxy promising the apocalypse and never materializing. Republicans do not doubt the link between cancer and smoking. We just believe that these lawsuits against tobacco companies excuses the responsibility of smokers, and that its the lawyers, not the plaintiffs, who ran away with most of the money. Creationism is believed by a small sector of Republicans of Pentecostal persuasion, but most discount it. That is not to say that Darwin's theory, which is plausible for most things so far, is a shut case.

15) A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense.

President Clinton lied under oath, which is against U.S. law. The Constitution identifies the president as chief of the executive branch, which enforces the law. If the chief enforcer won't enforce the law, then it is a threat to the very integrity of the Republic. Our country is one based on the rule of law alone-not race, not language, not culture-LAW. Without the law, there is no U.S. of A. What the statement above seems to imply is that the president is above the law. That is monarchy. In the end, he was guilty of breaking the law and was disbarred as a result.

16) A president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.

Bush did not lie. He consulted the best available information at the time, from sources as diverse as the CIA, Foreign Intelligence Agencies, and UN inspection reports. No one before the Iraq War believed the WMDs did not exist. The endless number of inspections in Iraq were performed based on the assumptions that they did exist. The real liar in all of this was Saddam. All intelligence agencies and even the UN agreed that he was a liar. The burden of proof was on him. He failed the fifteen or more chances (resolutions) given to him. For a president to entrust his nation's security on the words of a lying madman is reckless.

17) Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

The first part of that statement is true, while the latter part disregards regards the reasoning behind the positions stated. Amendments can address anything in American life, and there is a clearly defined way in proposing and ratifying them. Since one of government's main functions is to ensure an orderly society, the support of families, society's primary unit, is crucial. To be married is classified extensively in every citizen's dealings with government, whether it be taxes or property claims. For a government to further specify what a family and marriage really is perfectly within their power.Most Republicans oppose a federal amendment denying gay marriage. But they understand that the argument for why it might be necessary. If courts ignore the will of the people and start making law (instead of interpreting it) regarding the legality of gay marriage, then it is right for the legislative branch make law to counter judicial abuse of power. On the censorship issue, most Republicans are free speech's biggest defenders. Compared to campus speech code, political correctness, and diversity training, and campaign finance reform, debate and expression among Republicans is wide open. But when pornographic adds starts popping up on the family computer's screen because it came as an undetected virus, then it is a violation of my liberty not to look at that stuff. Any parent, both Republican and Democrat would agree.

18) The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's driving record is none of our business.

The writer here seems to have never read a newspaper, magazine, or watched television or the internet in the last four years. The media has dug up everything possible from Geore W Bush's past and put it under the magnifying glass. They've brought back the president's national guard service again and again. They've run out on things to report on his life to such an extent that one major news source (CBS) admited to desperately recreating Bush's history from forged documents. The truth is, there is no concrete evidence that Bush has shirked his responsibilities to the National Guard. The president has been very candid about his alcoholism and past indiscretions and voters are attracted to the fact that he sought redemption. Hillary's cattle venture was only reported once, and has made little impact on her reputation since.

19) Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness, and you need our prayers for your recovery.

Many Republicans would like to decriminalize some drugs. The argument for this are based on the belief that individuals can choose and be held responsible, and that the current War on Drugs is costly and counterproductive in lowering drug use and crime. That still doesn't change the fact that addiction is a moral failing which can engender further criminal behavior. Rush Limbaugh was addicted to a legal drug, painkillers, but never once has he demanded sympathy for his failings. He never claimed to be a moral or even a religious person, and his listeners couldn't care less. Many of his listeners know he has a pathetic private life, and is far from a paragon of virtue, but that does not change the fact that he is a talented radio personality. He rarely ever scorns drug abusers on his show anyway. Republicans pray for everyone to recover, not just their own.

20) You support states' rights, which means Attorney General John Ashcroft can tell states what local voter initiatives they have the right to adopt.

First, look up the concept of federalism. Then list in detail, with facts and numbers, what John Ashcroft has done to reduce your civil liberties. If you can't come up with any fullfilling these demands, your accusations are baseless.

21) What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '80s is irrelevant.

Again, the writer here has never read a newspaper, magazine or internet, nor watched TV during the past four years. It's ironic that the same person who declared that Clinton's lack of service was irrelevant to his ability to perform as president in 1992 is now the Democratic nominee for President in 2004: John Kerry. The same guy whose entire campaign rests on his 4 1/2 months in Vietnam and his constant attacks against his opponent for not having any battlefield experience (though Bush did master to fly a supersonic jet and could have been called up to bomb Vietnam at any time). The truth is, Bush's past is pretty boring. He's failed at almost everything he tried before his first gubernatorial run in 1994. There's not much to his oilman past, since he lost his shirt repeatedly. The only thing he claims he is proud of during the eighties was "finding Jesus". Most journalists and some Republicans kind of laugh at that but it somehow resonates with a lot of people. Go figure.

Feel free to pass this on.

Feel free to believe this B.S.!

Friends don't let friends vote Republican.

A real friend doesn't tell you how to vote. He respects you enough to make up your own mind.

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