Main Street on the March!

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Lefty blogger Shawn Ewald contrasts Cindy Sheehan with an online pundit who calls himself The Meat-Eating Leftist:

As you might expect, the Meat-Eating Leftist is shootin' from the hip with no-nonsense, meat-eating common sense like repeatedly comparing Bush to a chimp. That's so fucking hardcore, dude! He keeps on telling it like it is by saying flat out: "That the chimp needs a bat over his head." Whoa, dude! That's almost too radical!…

Sarcasm aside, the difference between people like Cindy Sheehan and people like the Meat-Eating Leftist is that Sheehan is for real. She doesn't sit back and snipe about what other people should be doing, she went out and put her life on hold, risked her marriage, endured the humiliations of the press because she is serious. This whole Cindy Sheehan thing is what it is, it's not the revolution and it probably won't stop the war, but if it embarrasses the president and gets people out in the street that would ordinarily never dream of going to an anti-war protest, Cindy Sheehan will have already accomplished more than the entire anti-war movement has accomplished to date.

Even the craven, evil mainstream press can see why people are interested in her and inspired by her. Because her protest is not a fashion statement, it's not a line item on her activist resume. It's not about her or her reputation, or her future career, or to satisfy her personal delusions of grandeur. She is for real and we on the left have not been, it's really as simple as that.

Steve Earle said something similar at Camp Casey: "the Vietnam War didn't end because I opposed it, it ended because my father came to oppose it. We have Cindy Sheehan to thank for the beginnings of what I believe is a mainstream movement against this war." And in a dispatch for AlterNet, Amanda Marcotte writes: "I guess I read too many right-wing blogs, because I really did fear that this was going to be a load of navel-gazing hippies, but they represent only a tiny minority of the people milling around. The majority of the people we saw at both camps and at the Peace House were middle-aged women in shorts with sensible shoes and sensible hats. Really, if I didn't know what was going on and just stumbled upon this group of women putting up signs and tables, putting out food and chatting amicably, I would have thought it was the local PTA throwing a high school dance."

All of which is my roundabout way of getting to why I'm much more favorably disposed towards Camp Casey than Tim Cavanaugh was when he wrote about its founding mother in this space last week. My initial reaction to Sheehan was skeptical ("A meeting with the president? What's that going to accomplish?") but before long it was clear that she was a catalyst as well as a symbol for Main Street antiwar sentiment—and that Bush simply doesn't know how to respond to a protest like hers. When the warbots try to slime her, that merely shows how desperate they are: They know they're on the defensive. If Sheehan were the fringe figure they say she is, they would barely bother to talk about her at all.

NEXT: That Silver Ring Thing You Do

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  1. Steve Earle said something similar at Camp Casey: “the Vietnam War didn’t end because I opposed it, it ended because my father came to oppose it.”

    I guess the question then is whether Vietnam War protestors hastened or postponed Steve Earle’s dad’s change of heart.

  2. Does “Main Street antiwar sentiment” mean the majority of Americans want the war to end now (as opposed to “when the job is done/as soon as possible”), or just “Oh, hey – there are antiwar protesters who aren’t frothing hippies!”?

    We’ve had the latter since at least 2003, and we don’t appear all that close to the former.

  3. she has what almost everyone on either side of this debate in the political and military arena lack:

    moral authority.

    the war in iraq was logistically and militarily lost a few years ago in rumsfeld’s planning and morally in feith’s, cheney’s and ledeen’s perverted lies and ethical bankrputcy — but i think it takes someone like ms sheehan to drive home to many how profoundly morally dessicated the war and the people who manage it are, and how desperately awful we should feel for having allowed it to happen as we did.

  4. If Sheehan were the fringe figure they say she is…

    Excuse me? She’s publicly said a number of things that are straight out of the lunatic fringe Left’s playbook. Most offensively, she expressed the opinion that this country is not worth dying for.

    I’m sorry; stop the bus, this is where I part company with this particular moonbat. This country is most definitely worth dying for, even in its present political decreptitude.

    Her son made an adult decision to place himself at risk to perform the orders of his commander-in-chief. That she has no respect for her son’s decision as an adult is not a sign of motherly devotion, but is instead a measure of her own irrational hatred for that commander-in-chief.

  5. She has moral authority if one already agrees that her son died in an immoral war. Those who don’t agree either find themselves reluctant to contradict someone who’s been hurt so terribly or overcompensate by being incredibly assinine.

    What is the counter that makes any emotional sense? Trot out 10, 20 parents of soldiers lost in Iraq and Afghanistan who think she’s wrong? That could go very badly if some of them got uncivil and start trashing her as harshly as the “warbots” are.

  6. What is the counter that makes any emotional sense? Trot out 10, 20 parents of soldiers lost in Iraq and Afghanistan who think she’s wrong?

    You’re not far off.

  7. I’m sorry; stop the bus, this is where I part company with this particular moonbat. This country is most definitely worth dying for, even in its present political decreptitude.

    i’m afraid that what the administration has done — and what sensible people are increasingly aware of them having done, thanks to the consequences, which ms sheehan represents so starkly — rather removes from the field of play for a great many this sort of blind idolatry for the mechanisms of the state, which is so often temporarily accorded politicians in times of crisis (until they, inevitably, forfeit it as bush has).

    i think history shows that “my country right or wrong” usually only works so long as my country (or rather, the machiavellian clan claiming to represent it) is right — or, at least, so long as it is not so easily seen to be playing us all for idiots and dupes.

  8. gm,

    I’d like to hear why Cindy Sheehan has this “moral authority.” Is it because her son was killed in Iraq? There are 1,800-plus mothers whose sons were killed in Iraq. I’m willing to bet that it you polled them all, Cindy Sheehan’s opinions of the war would be a minority view.

    Is it because she’s speaking on behalf of her son, who gave his life in the war? I’m unaware of what Casey Sheehan’s politics were, but I’m not aware of any evidence that they’re anywhere near his mother’s.

    I would also disagree with Jesse’s assertion that anyone who’s anti-Sheehan is following some right-wing talking point. I really have no idea what Rush Limbaugh or whoever is saying about her. I made up my mind about this pretty quickly.

    And I also agree with everything Tim said: my god, why didn’t Dubya agree to a no-media meeting before it blew up in his face like this?

  9. You’re not far off.

    And they seem to be having the same problems as I would expect. Not to mention that we’ll likely never near of this group or any other like it remotely as prominently as Sheehan.

    There’s just no sensational aspect to parents of fallen soldiers supporting the war, and a reporter can (and likely will at some point) write a story about poor, ignorant people who simple-mindedly support the war even after losing their children to it.

    Gaius: so what moral authority, precisely, does Sheehan have that these parents and others lack?

  10. I would also disagree with Jesse’s assertion that anyone who’s anti-Sheehan is following some right-wing talking point.

    I asserted no such thing, unless “anyone who’s anti-Sheehan” means “a handful of noisy right-wing pundits who have debased themselves with sleazy personal attacks.”

  11. Jesse,

    Why does Cindy Sheehan’s voice count so much, yet all of the parents of people killed in Iraq who disagree with her don’t? In addition, why do all of the Iraqi veterns like myself who come back and say that the war is noble cause and is going better than media portrays not count yet the Iraqi war vet who ran for Congress in Ohio as an anti-war candidate has all this moral authority? Cindy Sheehan tells the media and liberal elite what they want to hear, so she is immediately, the voice of mainstreet America, courages mother, symbol of the masses, yada yada yada. The parents and veterns who tell the media and liberal elite what they don’t want to hear are either ignored or dismissed outright.

  12. And I also agree with everything Tim said: my god, why didn’t Dubya agree to a no-media meeting before it blew up in his face like this?

    And again, I point out that this whole thing started after Sheehan met with him for the first time.

  13. Those who don’t agree either find themselves reluctant to contradict someone who’s been hurt so terribly or overcompensate by being incredibly assinine.

    i would say, mr eric, that possessing moral authority doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone agrees with you. it means that even those who disagree with you are compelled to admit that your position is, by its nature, one of authority and deserving acknowledgement.

    that’s something the war camp in this country has successfully avoided running up against until now — even when factual reports came down indicting their aims and methods (often only reiterating what spilled out of their own mouths) and even when glaring and obvious mistakes were being made, they managed to have the recountings of those events channeled through messengers who lacked moral authority — or managed to destroy with propaganda the authority that should have been accorded to such people (like paul o’neill or richard clarke or michael scheuer or seymour hersh or any of a hundred others who said or reported truthful and helpful things and were annihilated for it). (i’m sure some blindly passionate nro devotee will slam those people even now.)

    now they’re faced with someone they can’t defame so easily and whose sacrifice for the holy cause in unquestionable. it’s a turning point, imo.

  14. she has what almost everyone on either side of this debate in the political and military arena lack:

    moral authority.

    Bullshit. Moral authority is earned. Moral authority is the right to demand that we respect your opinions, after all.

    Being a victim (which is all that Ms. Sheehan can really claim to be) doesn’t get you moral authority. Anyone can be a victim, after all. Being a victim doesn’t improve the quality of your analysis or the depth of your learning, or even necessarily improve your powers of insight or empathy.

    As we have seen in Ms. Sheehan’s case, after all, being a victim can make you narcissistic and paranoid, which are two things I try to avoid in people I deem to be moral authorities.

    No, Ms. Sheehan is just the media flavor of the month for this year’s summer doldrums. She won’t even be a trivia question for most Americans in another few weeks.

  15. “Most offensively, she expressed the opinion that this country is not worth dying for.”

    I struggle to see how that is even mildly offensive, let alone most offensive. As I believe Murray Rothbard once said, “If you think your country is worth dying for, it’s sad that you don’t have more to live for.” (Or phrasing to that effect.) And then of course there’s Patton’s famous dictum, “[N]o bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.”

  16. Of course, Eric. But that’s beside the point. This is politics. When the angry war mom protestors shows up at your ranch, just effing invite her in! Give her a half hour! What harm could have come of it?

  17. and that’s why she has moral authority, mr steve — she has made a terrible sacrifice, and deserves to have her questions answered — and the slander of bloody-minded talking heads can’t change that by dismissing it all as a liberal conspiracy.

  18. Moral authority is earned

    she hasn’t earned it? her son is dead. what have you given, mr dean?

  19. I repeat, why does she have any more moral authority than anyone else who lost a child over there? Many if not most of the people whose kids have died in Iraq, think that Sheehan is a nut and violently disagree with her. Why does Sheehan have all of thise moral authority and the other partents who have lost children do not? The answer of course is that she is saying what people want to hear and therefore is being made into something she is not. Name any war, no matter how just and someone who lost a child to it is going to say that it is not worth it and from strictly their prospective they are probably right. The fact that people have to suffer says nothing about the justice or morality of a war. Whatever the can be said for or against the Iraq war, the fact that one woman lost a son and thinks its terrible means nothing in the larger scheme of things.

  20. Give her a half hour! What harm could have come of it?

    the problem is — as bush and his handlers well know — that they can’t answer her questions without looking at the floor. and millions of middle americans (if not dedicated pro-killing fanaticists) know it. my farm family from central wisconsin has gone from putting W signs on their lawn to calling him another lying politician. big difference.

    bush is in a spot now politically — the blood is in the water. whether or not it translates into a republican rebellion in congress is yet to be seen — bush still owns k street and the money, so i rather doubt it.

  21. OK, gm, but why does she have more moral authority than anyone else who’s lost a son in the war? Or do they have the same “moral authority”?

    It’s endless. It’s why I’m not too big on “moral authority.” I’d rather evaluate what someone has to say, on its merits, rather than weigh their moral authority.

  22. “Being a victim (which is all that Ms. Sheehan can really claim to be) doesn’t get you moral authority. Anyone can be a victim, after all. Being a victim doesn’t improve the quality of your analysis or the depth of your learning, or even necessarily improve your powers of insight or empathy.”

    And yet so many of Ms. Sheehan’s critics support “victim impact” testimony in criminal trials…. (Including G.W., who endorsed the Victims’ Rights Amendment in 2002, which would make victim impact testimony a constitutional right: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/04/20020416-1.html )

  23. Gaius,

    If Sheehan gets to meet with Bush, can I meet with Howard Dean to have him answer for all of the lies and insults he has spewed at me and everyone else who has served in Iraq?

  24. Chris Hitchens’s accusation of anti-Semitism on the part of Sheehan is my favorite low point so far.

    Also, from now on, I’m going to make sure I use the phrase “conservative elite” when referring to GOP-leaning media, pundits, etc. and “libertarian elite” for libertarian-identified same. That “-elite” construction sure is a handy ad hominem fillip.

  25. why does she have any more moral authority than anyone else who lost a child over there?

    she doesn’t, mr john. they all possess it. but ms sheehan has given a loud voice to a lot of families who hadn’t been seen or heard from before — who have lost a child over what they believe is a political fraud.

    others may come out and say “we believe” and all that patriotic slavery we’re so used to, but that cannot put the genie back in the bottle. it’s now common knowledge that many military families view the president with contempt, not honor. that’s a devastating blow for a president who has (facetiously) draped himself in the honor and duty of militarism from the start.

  26. SM Koppelman,

    If Sheehan is so wonderful, what do you have to say to all of the parents of Iraq casualties who disagree with her? Are they just dupes? How does this moral authority thing work? You only get it when you say the right things are trash the country and claim to be a victim? Anyone who believes their kid died for a good cause just needs shut up because they have no moral authority?

  27. Arguing the details of Cindy Sheehan’s demands is like debating the paint job on the Enola Gay. She is, as I wrote, “a catalyst as well as a symbol for Main Street antiwar sentiment.” That sentiment is the issue now — which is one reason why criticism directed at the woman herself has fizzled at best, backfired at worst.

    Sheehan has also managed to make a fool of the president, whose political savvy is starting to look pretty creaky these days.

  28. gm,

    she has made a terrible sacrifice
    No, her adult son made the terrible sacrifice. And why she isn’t she then picketing in front of the homes of the hundreds of members of congress who authorized the use of force in Iraq anyways?

    And why does she have “moral authority” where all the other parents who don’t agree with her views and have children who died in the Iraq war don’t?

  29. I meet with Howard Dean to have him answer for all of the lies and insults he has spewed at me and everyone else who has served in Iraq?

    yes, frankly i think you should, mr john. dean is just as much a decrepit manipulator as bush, and both have lied their asses off for political advantage when they’ve had the chance. bush is worse only because he was in a position to get people killed. dean, had he been in the office, might have been just as contemptible.

  30. Gaius,

    I don’t know where you get that, but that is just not true. I am in the military and have not heard of and do not know anyone who would think anything like Sheehan does. Do people disagree politically? Yes. Would everyone have done the same thing Bush did or even vote for Bush? No. But to say that Sheehan somehow represents the mainstream of opionion of military families or even a current is a flat out lie.

  31. You’re right, gm, if Bush met with her the first day, she’d probably still hate him. Bush probably would have looked at the floor and been a general dumbass, as he often is.

    But then the story would be, “Mom meets with President, still hates him.” It wouldn’t be a story at all.

  32. “When the warbots try to slime her, that merely shows how desperate they are: They know they’re on the defensive.”

    I don’t think the sliming reveals desperation or defensiveness. (I also don’t know what a “warbot” is, but that’s a different conversation about semantics.)

    In my analysis, Sheehan has elicited wrath for two big reasons:

    — She already met with the president.
    — She has attracted massive attention from the major media.

    Most people get miffed when they watch someone — anyone — get an inch, demand a yard, then receive a mile. Put that someone on the opposite side of the political spectrum, tack on a shrill self-righteous demeanor, add an issue that is literally life-and-death, and emotions will run pretty high.

  33. No, her adult son made the terrible sacrifice.

    that’s the fraudulence of a view of the world which does not count people as anything more than unrelated monads, mr matthew. their family sent him to the military, and they did so on the presumption of honor and honesty in his employment. their family made the sacrifice. and their family is owed the answers.

    being in the military, btw, doesn’t condemn you to being run off a cliff like a lemming for a lie or any whim of a dictator — as nations sometimes find when they abuse their military too much, and it turns its weapons on the capital. there are limits to use. bush is running dangerously close to them, imo.

  34. John,
    What did Howard Dean say?

  35. I am in the military and have not heard of and do not know anyone who would think anything like Sheehan does.

    clearly, mr john, they exist. ms sheehan is the evidence, and she cannot be dismissed as a figment of the liberal imagination. that you may not know them is perfectly understandable — maybe in fact you do know them, but they haven’t put a voice to their doubts yet. ms sheehan will encourage many contrite doubters with powerful unresolved questions to come forward.

  36. possessing moral authority doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone agrees with you. it means that even those who disagree with you are compelled to admit that your position is, by its nature, one of authority and deserving acknowledgement.

    Saying she has moral authority because she has authority is just circular reasoning, gaius.

    Like I said, she has moral authority to those who’ve already concluded the war in Iraq is immoral. (I think the hawks and doves are still arguing over whether she’s really said the invasion of Afghanistan and the very defense of the US is immoral.)

    I feel bad for her loss, but I don’t think she has any special authority because of it, any more than some mother of someone who died due to gunshot wounds/drug overdose/not wearing a helmet has a special moral authority when asking for gun confiscation/drug prohibition/helmet laws. She’s just one more person with a point of view, no matter how fervent her feelings. She may be right or wrong, and she will be used by those who think she’s right to bolster their cause.

  37. But to say that Sheehan somehow represents the mainstream of opionion of military families or even a current is a flat out lie.

    i said no such thing. i posit only that such families exist, and that their numbers are not trivial, and (more importantly) they have a powerful moral authority by weight of their loss to have their questions answered.

    if the president can’t answer them convincingly, that is a terrible (possibly politically bankrupting) loss for him.

  38. Arguing the details of Cindy Sheehan’s demands is like debating the paint job on the Enola Gay. She is, as I wrote, “a catalyst as well as a symbol for Main Street antiwar sentiment.” That sentiment is the issue now — which is one reason why criticism directed at the woman herself has fizzled at best, backfired at worst.

    So in other words, Sheehan herself doesn’t matter at all, she’s just a convenient symbol for a movement?

  39. To me, I think it’s a shame that much of what she espouses is of the far-left conspiracy variety which makes her much less credible in my eyes. What makes her compelling is that it puts a human face on the families that have lost loved ones abroad in Iraq. I think everyone needs to keep the focus on the people affected, because grieving mothers who are for the war and grieving mothers who are against the war are still grieving mothers. I think we forget how easily we are desensitized by the casualty reports when not directly affected. At one point I was working with the Pentagon during the news that a bombing killed more than a dozen US Troops. The mood was intensely disheartening, as if these soldiers were the first and only killed in Iraq, and this affected me greatly by how callous I had become. I think no matter what you believe in the war, that we can?t forget the human costs ? and that goes for both pro-war and anti-war. I just wish that she wasn?t so crazy with her rants so that everyone can simply focus on who she is: a grieving mother.

  40. Like I said, she has moral authority to those who’ve already concluded the war in Iraq is immoral. (I think the hawks and doves are still arguing over whether she’s really said the invasion of Afghanistan and the very defense of the US is immoral.)

    i mean, mr eric, that she has authority because she has offered her family for the cause and lost her son. there’s nothing semantic in that.

    how do you look at her the way one can look at paul begala and say, “you’re an idiot and a liberal weenie!”? only the most morally void people can or would wish to do so (although there are certainly many of those around). that authority is undeniable. she has sacrificed. her questions are compelling and deserve answers — and did before we undertook this whole murderous clusterfuck — not only because of what she’s asking but because of what she’s paid to get the answer.

  41. Sheehan did not sacrifice her son. Her son was an adult who volunatarily joined, and then voluntarily re-enlisted, in the military. She did not sacrifice him, donate him, offer him up or anything else. Her moral authority is no more and no less than that of any other grieving mother.

    I had a lot more sympathy for her, and more respect, before she started swinging with the movie stars and writing blog posts about Vigo dropping by and making speeches about lying bastard neocons and their orgies of carnal pleasure.

    Only time will tell who’s right, but I don’t believe either Cindy, or any “movement” she may or may not have started, will prove influential in the long run.

  42. “ms sheehan has given a loud voice to a lot of families who hadn’t been seen or heard from before”

    BS, the volume knob on your TV gave her a loud voice.

  43. Gaius, I generally think you’re a fair debater, but I think your responses to John above are completely unfair to the point of making a stuffed shirt of his argument.

  44. Sheehan’s son voluntarily joined the armed forces, implicitly accepting the attendent risks and dangers. This gives her “moral authority” how? If he had been drafted, like those sent to fight in Vietnam, there would be something to it. But not with volunteerism. If you think joining the armed forces guarantees you safety from dangerous situations, then you’re not too bright anyway.

    Besides, Sheehan already met with the President, and she was impressed and happy with the results of that meeting. She changed her tune since then and has garnered public attention for it. Seems pretty self-serving to me. That she uses her dead son to get it is even more disturbing.

  45. She matters, Eric, and so does her son. But her demand for an audience with the president is just a MacGuffin.

  46. I just wish that she wasn?t so crazy with her rants so that everyone can simply focus on who she is: a grieving mother.

    agreed, mr jiml. i’m inclined to give her a very wide berth in her point of view. she’s dealing with intense personal pain, and won’t always be sensible about it. but she has also asked some of the same really difficult questions that a lot of others have asked — but with the moral authority of one who has lost, and cannot be dismissed as self-serving or contrived.

  47. JimL,

    I feel bad for the woman. I think she is being totally used and exploited by cynical people who could care less about her or her suffering. As Jesse Walker, inadvertantly points out above, she is a “symbol” for whatever their larger view of the world is. As far as people having the nerve to attack her, imagine if the mother of one of the Rangers killed in Somalia had camped out in front of Bill Clinton’s home demanding a meeting and it turned out she was a member of the KKK, and the John Birch society. Do you think maybe a few people on the left would have had something to say about that? Naw, never, they would respect a grieving mother.

  48. Given the fact that the left mobilized thousands of people in marches in major cities right before and during the war, and it didn’t accomplish squat, I don’t see how people sitting in a ditch and listening to Steve Earle are going to accomplish anything, either. However, they have yet to deploy the giant puppets that were so effective a few years ago, as far as the press photos I have seen, so maybe they are holding them back for a really slam bang ending.

  49. Sheehan’s son voluntarily joined the armed forces, implicitly accepting the attendent risks and dangers. This gives her “moral authority” how?

    are our leaders free to send volunteer soldiers to the north pole in their underwear to freeze to death and be chopped into soylent green?

    if no, then she has valid questions. there are implicit limits to use, regardless of volunteerism. and questions regarding the fraudulence that surrounded the start of the war are perfectly valid.

  50. Cindy has a right to spew her crap, and others have a right to spew crap back at her, what exactly is the issue here? you can aruge moral authority all you want and it will get you what, lets seeee, hmmmmm, that’s what I thought, absolutely nothing. i know I’m wrong cause the whole country is united behind her and her moral authority right now.

  51. I didn’t just call her a symbol, John; I called her a catalyst, too. Focusing on the s-word inverts the meaning of the sentence, which was about the way she moved from merely representing others to inspiring them to step forward as well.

  52. giant puppets

    lol, mr mynack — but things are definitely different. those people were looking for anything to protest, just to protest it and break out their cool puppets.

    that isn’t what ms sheehan is doing or why she’s where she is.

  53. i mean, mr eric, that she has authority because she has offered her family for the cause and lost her son. there’s nothing semantic in that.

    She offered nothing; as has been pointed out, her adult son chose to serve. She’s lost her son, she hasn’t put up anything for a cause or a goal.

    how do you look at her the way one can look at paul begala and say, “you’re an idiot and a liberal weenie!”?

    I can very easily look at her as a mother distraught with grief and loss, which is why I look askance at critics who would treat her as harshly as or more so than Begala, even if I happened to think she was equally wrong.

  54. the way she moved from merely representing others to inspiring them to step forward as well.

    critical point, mr walker. she has given voice and confidence to an entire subset of military families that think the war was a fraud that killed their sons.

    for bush, who has stopped at nothing to wrap himself in the military and praise and magnify (deservingly) the sacrifice of military families, that is a singularly difficult blow to parry.

  55. Jesse,

    My point is that whatever people hoped to accomplish through Sheehan, has nothing to do with her and everything to do with their larger goals, whether you call her a catalyst of a symbol. As I have said above, her plight says nothing one way or another about the morality or advisablity of continueing the war in Iraq. All her supporters are doing is expoiting one woman’s greif for their own cynical ends.

  56. her adult son chose to serve.

    again, the fraudulence of impersonal monads. would your wife and mother have a say on your service? would they suffer if you were killed? and, if you were killed in a misuse of military authority — whether your captain shot you or your president lied you into war — would their questions deserve to be answered?

    don’t be willfully oblique, mr eric. you know the answers to these questions.

  57. All her supporters are doing is expoiting one woman’s greif for their own cynical ends.

    but it isn’t about that, is it, mr john? her supporters aren’t holding up here photo like a holy icon — she’s out there, asking for answers herself.

    it would be contemptible if it were what you seem to want to believe it is. but it isn’t. that’s *her*, without her son, asking why.

  58. John –

    I hope you were equally critical of the President’s use of the grief of the families of 9/11 to push his political agenda (mushroom clouds, planning a convention in NYC, talking about how 9/11 changed everything, yadda yadda yadda). Otherwise, your arguments are nothing more than talking points handed down by your masters…

  59. I think that Sheehan’s importance is overblown as is the effect of the anti-war movement. I don’t think she has any particular moral authority either.

    I think the real issue is demonstrated by the bumper sticker on the car of an acquaintance with a son and daughter in Iraq. Don’t remember the words exactly but it was something like:

    “If you voted for Bush, enlist. Our soldiers need you.”

    Bush won more than 50% of the vote in the presidential election. Based on recruiting numbers, he’s not getting the ‘vote’ in that arena. The individual decisions of tens of thousands of young adults are what count the most.

  60. I can very easily look at her as a mother distraught with grief and loss, which is why I look askance at critics who would treat her as harshly as or more so than Begala, even if I happened to think she was equally wrong.

    the essence of her authority isn’t in thinking she has to be right because of what she’s lost — clearly, she doesn’t have to be right about anything.

    what she does deserve is respect, as you see, and an answer to her material questions that can be answered. that is the essence of her moral authority. her views are genuine and valid — not political and contrived. that much is unassailable.

    we share, i suspect, a contempt for the many thoughtless drones (including many war-mad political operatives) who continually insult her and her sacrifice because they fear to lose their political advantage or because they simply disagree with her viewpoint. her authority is what makes them look like vulgar, bloodthirsty ghouls.

  61. I’m not Eric, but I’ll answer: Of course my wife and mother would have a say, but in the end, it would be MY decision, and something my family would have to accept.

    But we’ll leave aside your infantalizing of the troops for a moment, gm. I would appreciate if you would answer my earlier question: does Cindy Sheehan have some moral authority that pro-war grieving parents lack? If so, why?

  62. “And why she isn’t she then picketing in front of the homes of the hundreds of members of congress who authorized the use of force in Iraq anyways?”

    BECAUSE THE PRESIDENT MISREPRESENTED INTELLIGENCE IN ORDER TO GET THEM TO VOTE FOR THE WAR. How many more times do you have to hear this? He cooked the freakin’ books. _I_ would have voted for the war if I believed what he was peddling at the time.

    LBJ lied to drag us into Vietnam. W lied to drag us into Iraq. In both cases, Congress voted based on what they were told to be the truth. In both cases, the President was the one to blame. Period.

  63. does Cindy Sheehan have some moral authority that pro-war grieving parents lack? If so, why?

    i’ve already answered this above, mr steve, but i’ll copy myself:

    she doesn’t … they all possess it. but ms sheehan has given a loud voice to a lot of families who hadn’t been seen or heard from before — who have lost a child over what they believe is a political fraud.

    others may come out and say “we believe” and all that patriotic slavery we’re so used to, but that cannot put the genie back in the bottle. it’s now common knowledge that many military families view the president with contempt, not honor. that’s a devastating blow for a president who has (facetiously) draped himself in the honor and duty of militarism from the start.

  64. Congress voted based on what they were told to be the truth.

    they aren’t so innocent, mr m1ek. if i knew it was a lie before we went in, they certainly all did.

  65. I’ve always thought Steve Earle’s best work was his non-existent album Boat People, which was about the aftermath of the Vietnam War from the point of view of refugees and political prisoners in Southeast Asia.

  66. But we’ll leave aside your infantalizing of the troops for a moment, gm.

    “infantilizing”? because they don’t willfully ignore and run roughshod over their families’ wishes? are you serious?

    perhaps you, mr steve, feel fine with telling everyone who loves you to ‘fuck off’ or something whenever you wanna do what you wanna do — but healthy and balanced people don’t. (and i doubt you do either.) like choosing a college or a trade or any of a thousand other life-choices that get made at that age, for most of us — including a lot of people like ms sheehan — it gets made as a family.

  67. what she does deserve is respect,

    But why? She is a victim, nothing more, nothing less. How does being a victim make her deserving of respect?

    What makes a person deserving of respect is their internal qualities, not their external circumstances, and the fact that her son died in Iraq is something that has nothing whatever to do with her internal qualities.

    her views are genuine and valid — not political and contrived. that much is unassailable.

    So? I don’t give a crap, really, about how sincere anyone’s views are. I care much more about (a) how well grounded and thought out they are and (b) what kind of results are likely to come if they are put into practice. On both these counts, Ms. Sheehan’s views, like those of her fellow protestors, fall short.

  68. So Jesse,

    Sheehan is a celebrated anti-war catalyst, but those who don’t like all she has to say (and you have to admit, she says some cookie things) are either desparate, or too simple-minded to realize that the merits of what she says and does don’t matter, because she is only a catalyst?

    Can we apply this logic to other situations?

    My uncle Jumbo and I are working on a Flat Moon Society rally. We have many supporters, therefore anyone who questions us or our logic is either desparate or fails to grasp the futility of trying argue with us.

    You should patent this logic. It definitely has a future.

  69. John,

    I agree that she most likely being used by people who could care less about her loss in order to push an agenda. I?m also not glossing over her comments, and I think she opens herself up to criticism for them ? especially by placing herself continually in the spotlight. My point is that both sides need to realize that these are indeed real people with inconceivable losses, whether they are used as mouthpieces/symbols, etc. for or against the war; because a grieving parent is for the war doesn?t necessarily make the war right just as a parent who is against the war makes it wrong.

  70. again, the fraudulence of impersonal monads. would your wife and mother have a say on your service? would they suffer if you were killed? and, if you were killed in a misuse of military authority — whether your captain shot you or your president lied you into war — would their questions deserve to be answered?

    Gaius, if you want to call my opinions fraudulent, you’re welcome to avoid them.

    My answers are no, yes, and yes. But I’m afraid to have to point out that the last question still requires a presumption that the authority was misused.

    I think what people on both sides are saying and arguing here entirely supports my belief that Sheehan’s role has decreasingly little to do with her, her views, or her pain. All she is to most of the people involved is a mother who lost a son in Iraq and opposes the war. This is largely determining reactions on both sides of the debate. What I find disturbing is that most of the people actually focused to any extent on Sheehan, instead of Grieving War Mom Against the War, are the ones viciously attacking her.

  71. gm,

    Since many people I know claim to have been successfully misled, I can only trust that some people in Congress honestly believed what they were told as well. I, at the time, was skeptical but willing to believe that the WMDs might exist; I didn’t think we were ‘sure enough’ to justify an invasion, but I didn’t get the full-court press either.

  72. In an age when we are this polarized, this angry and this motivated on either of the WAR/BUSH issue, I don’t think there’s any way this could have played out in a less sensational manner.

    The fact is, many Americans hate this man George. What he stands for. What he’s doing to this nation.

    Many Americans deem him to be the defender of this nation’s nobility.

    Both sides are passionate and Mrs. Sheehan is a shatter-point from either perspective.

    I don’t support the war. All I see is financial interest and chaos dominating that region. I think President Bush is a disgusting human being…but(and it pains me to say this) he is our President. I hope that means he’s trying to do what he feels is best for the nation and not serving some insane, Republican agenda. He did meet with Mrs. Sheehan. She has a right to protest beyond that meeting and people have a right to protest her.

    My hope is that the pain of all of this will end soon.

  73. I don’t give a crap, really,

    i know, mr dean. you never do.

    (b) what kind of results are likely to come if they are put into practice

    no one is saying she should take over the pentagon. i’m saying she has powerful questions — questions which you can’t answer convincingly either, mr dean, as i’ve seen you try — about why her son was sent to war and why we were all so clearly lied to so much at that time.

    if those are questions that cannot be clearly and authoritatively answered to doubters — well, did you think clinton should have stayed in office after lying his ass off to the nation about monica? (i didn’t.) and how many people did that lie send to their deaths? (vince foster? — sorry, that’s a cheapie.)

    some people, i know, wouldn’t accept any answer to those questions, no matter how valid. i’m not one of them. and ms sheehan isn’t one either, i suspect — certainly, few military moms with reservations would be. and millions among ordinary americans who think the war was a mistake aren’t either.

    so let’s hear those answers, for the record. and if they aren’t convincing — why is this man still our president?

  74. to this

    would your wife and mother have a say on your service?

    you answer no, mr eric?

    ….

    … really?

    how disappointing. maybe you’re one of those i concern myself so much about when talking about the metastasis of individualism and its role in turning western civ into an incomprehensible disaster.

  75. gm,

    OK, I’ll bite. “Infantalizing” the troops means making them property of their mommies and daddies, and denying that they might make decisions on their own. It’s assuming, Michael Moore-like, that someone can “send” their son to war.

  76. Oh, crap. I was trying to have a debate with gm and then started in with the mumbojumbo again.

  77. Lars: This country is most definitely worth dying for…

    Hmmm…is that what they’re dying for? Every time a bunch of our boys gets shredded by a car bomb, our “freedom” is safer? Really? They wouldn’t happen to be dying, say, so that deluded and willfully ignorant old-school imperialists can embezzle billions of taxpayer funds in the form of lucrative, self-beneficial contracts?

    Her son made an adult decision to place himself at risk to perform the orders of his commander-in-chief.

    Yes, based on repeated lies from said, um, Commander P*ssy connecting his orders with national security.

    That she has no respect for her son’s decision as an adult is not a sign of motherly devotion, but is instead a measure of her own irrational hatred for that commander-in-chief.

    What’s irrational about hating a man who lied his f*cking AWOL pansy ass off to lure your son to his death? Absolutely nothing. Sheehan respects her son’s decision just fine, I’ll bet. But, call her funny, she has a hard time respecting a simpering pathological liar who fritters our economy and our youth away on pointless gladiatorial distractions. Distractions that evidently click with certain jingoistic asshats whose daddies didn’t hug them enough when they were little.

    People like to believe that what they’re doing is worthwhile, even when it ain’t, so you have hundreds of thousands of simple-minded and tragically self-unaware military grunts (how do you think they wind up in the military in the first place? Because they’re brilliant analytical minds?) who’ll swear up and down that what they’re doing in Iraq is of vital importance. That doesn’t mean it is. And just because the Whitewash House says we’re fighting Iraq to protect der Vaterland from another 9/11 doesn’t mean there’s even the remotest connection between dying in Iraq and dying to save America. They’re just dying. There’s just a price paid…no goods or services delivered in return. Dying for nothing.

    But by all means, Lars, if paying that price for nothing lends purpose to your life, do sign up to go to Iraq.

  78. making them property of their mommies and daddies

    is that really how you view families making decisions together, mr steve?

    i really AM right to worry about the decline of the west.

  79. The president is doing just fine and I wouldn
    t look twice at sheehan either. She is just another loudmouth america bashing Fonda type. And Im suure the president has more important things to do beside spar with some idiot protester. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK GEORGE !!!!!

  80. lol — did nro link to this thread just now?

  81. Joe12: You might want to reread the comment I posted at 2:29.

    The people issuing sleazy personal attacks are the ones who are desperate. I said nothing about “those who don’t like all she has to say.” I doubt I’d like all she has to say myself.

    The people who spend time arguing with her views, which is a different group, are not “simple-minded,” but they are missing the dynamics driving the story. If they think they’re going to make her less appealing that way, they’ll be disappointed.


  82. In an age when we are this polarized, this angry and this motivated on either of the WAR/BUSH issue, I don’t think there’s any way this could have played out in a less sensational manner.
    Comment by: Bryan Hill at August 23, 2005 03:53 PM

    Dude, speak for yourself. Until I get drafted to fight this war, I’m not neccessarily polarized or see it worthy of raising my blood pressure over. History is rife with old people sending young people to die for disputedly unworthy causes, why should these times be any different? Do you think humanity has collectively and suddenly evolved beyond our historic tendencies in pursuit of power?

  83. I repeat Jesse, if the mother of a Ranger killed in Somolia had camped outside Bill Clinton’s home and it turned out that she held radical right views, she would have been crucified in the media. A lot worse than anything that has happened to Sheenen. If anything, Sheenen has been treated with kid gloves.

  84. metalgrid…

    True, indeed. This election, and this President has made me feel so powerless. Perhaps the idea of justice in politics is foolish. I agree that it may well be. Maybe I still believe in the chimera of decent, political leadership. I just…I just…really hate this SOB. I’m glad you can shake him off. I wish I had the capacity to do that.

    BH

  85. If they think they’re going to make her less appealing that way, they’ll be disappointed.

    agreed, mr walker.

    History is rife with old people sending young people to die for disputedly unworthy causes, why should these times be any different? Do you think humanity has collectively and suddenly evolved beyond our historic tendencies in pursuit of power?

    the question, mr metalgrid, may instead be whether or not we’ve perhaps (even if only temporarily) evolved out of caring about it. that would say nothing good at all for the future of this society, imo.

  86. Bill Clinton’s home and it turned out that she held radical right views, she would have been crucified in the media.

    that’s questionable, mr john — but then, clinton (who lied about many things) didn’t lie us into somalia. he never presented it as anything but the do-gooding interventionism of an humanitarian imperial policeman, whether we liked it or not.

    the same cannot really be said here, can it?

  87. you answer no, mr eric?

    I have no wife, but I’d listen to my mother, other family, and friends if I planning to enlist. They might well convince me not to go, and I’d be unable to justify enlistment to myself if I had a child (absent flocks of Cuban paratroopers dropping in the local athletic field), but they don’t have a veto. I’m responsible for my own decisions and can’t use the wishes of those who love me as an excuse not to do something like that if I believe I should do it.

    (And right here, I’ll admit – I couldn’t get in the military short of a Red Dawn scenario. The last time I seriously thought about enlisting, in late 2001, I had to look up at my oddly-colored post-chemo hair, remember my congenital heart problems, and make myself stop thinking about it.)

    But if I “concern” you Gaius, that’s your problem. I honestly just can’t take seriously the criticism that I’m being hyperindividualistic by saying I’d do what I considered my moral duty to protect my society if people disagreed. You’re welcome to say you don’t think our society is worth dying for, but you can’t go on about how individualism is destroying society and use people’s willingness to die to defend society as proof.

  88. John writes:

    … if the mother of a Ranger killed in Somalia had camped outside Bill Clinton’s home …

    Then Clinton could have said, “We are in Somalia to prevent hundreds of thousands of people from starving to death,” and that would be that.

    (That’s not to say that U.S. involvement in Somalia was necessarily a good idea, just that there would have been no difficulty in articulating the rationale for the intervention.)

  89. clinton (who lied about many things) didn’t lie us into somalia

    He didn’t get us into Somalia, period. Bush Sr. did.

  90. clinton (who lied about many things) didn’t lie us into somalia.

    Alright, then make it the mother of someone shot down while bombing Serbia and Kosovo. I seem to recall some libertarians and others arguing that the pretenses used were false.

  91. Watching the Sheehan affair unfold, I have been reminded just how little I give a damn about anybody’s “protest” anymore.

    Oh yes, I know, the right is protest is sacrosanct and one of the rights our forefathers fought for, etc. – but I’m not talking about her right to protest. I’m talking about the fact that it has gradually become somewhat shocking to me that anyone thinks I should really care about protest, or notice.

    As a matter of fact, there seems to me to be something fundamentally dishonest about protest. There is an element of falseness embedded deep in its methodology, where it can’t be ferreted out, and where the sincerity of the individual protestor isn’t relevant.

    It’s like the antiwar protests before the war. Since I already knew that a certain percentage of Americans opposed the war, that meant I was already aware of the fact that millions of people thought the war was a bad idea. What I can’t really grasp anymore [and it’s a simple thing, but once it slips away from you the protest paradigm no longer makes sense] is why it should matter to me if those millions of people opposed the war inside their houses, or outside of them. What I can’t understand is what additional content was supplied by having people show up to protest; before the protests, I knew that millions of people opposed the war, and after the protests, I knew that millions of people opposed the war. Do you see what I am saying? The protests didn’t supply any new information.

    In Cindy Sheehan’s case, since 2000 servicemembers have died during the war, it went without saying as far as I was concerned that somewhere a mother of a deceased servicemember was sad. So Cindy showing up in Crawford again did not add any content or supply any new information.

    And that’s why I’m gradually concluding that protest is ultimately somewhat dishonest. Since I already knew that millions of people opposed the war, and already knew that mothers of dead soldiers were sad, and since everyone else already knew these things, too, it would seem that the purpose of protest is not to offer an argument but merely to attract attention. Our entire media system of contrived, symbolic, image-centric political events does not seem designed to argue or persuade, but merely to attrit – if you can come up with the symbolic event that catches the press’ attention this week, you can keep the other guy’s symbolic event off the airwaves, and by beating your symbolic event into the ground by repetition you exhaust the public into capitulating and sharing your view. This means that the process of contriving these symbolic events [which would include protest] is at its core a process of dishonest argument, and it may be that the reason the public is more and more jaded by “photo op” politics, and more and more polarized and unwilling to stomach the “other guy’s” images, is because people are starting to realize this on some level.

  92. Oh, and I guess I should say that the general form of the original post – viewing the event as an element of a strategy, and analyzing Sheehan’s protest not as an argument against the war, but as a catalytic image designed to advance the antiwar position on the basis of how she appears to a certain segment of the electorate – only reinforces my belief that protest is now more about the subtlety of the protestor’s political technique than about the content of their grievance, and is therefore no more trustworthy [or significant] than any other piece of televised marketing.

  93. I honestly just can’t take seriously the criticism that I’m being hyperindividualistic by saying I’d do what I considered my moral duty to protect my society if people disagreed.

    we aren’t talking about faceless “people”, though. we’re talking about your (or my) family.

    i guess what i’m saying, mr eric, is that if it truly were your moral duty, your family wouldn’t try to stop you — they’d join you. when the people who love you try to stop you, it’s generally because they think you’re screwing your own pooch.

    if you aren’t going to give their opinions the weight which would override your own desires — well, i submit that then there are no opinions you give any real weight to besides your own, and that is the definition of excessive individualism, isn’t it?

  94. You’re welcome to say you don’t think our society is worth dying for, but you can’t go on about how individualism is destroying society and use people’s willingness to die to defend society as proof.

    to go way o/t — actually, i don’t see the conflict, mr eric. those lining up to die for a nation — a golden calf, as it were — have lost sight of some very profound realities about the mundane meanness of politics. there is no transcendent truth in a managerial state mechanism.

    i think the fact that people do so is testament to how lost they are, and how in need of some transcendent cause that they have been denied by the age they live in. national patriotism is a terrible sickness of the soul which is repeatedly warned against in every holy text i’m familiar with — indeed, it is the very object of the commandment “you shall have no god but god”.

  95. Who’s to say, gaius, that one’s moral duty is something that can be gleaned accurately from outside? Is not an existentialist’s moral code as true to them as an objectivist’s?

    And that one’s own opinion is more relevant to that person than another’s is something that can only be solved by a rational discourse, not an absence of individualism.

  96. Whenever I become convinced that “libertarians” have forgotten that the core of the movement is “liberty”, for whoever you are, and whatever side of the divide you might be on.

    Then someone like Mr. Walker comes along and happily reminds me that there are still those who understand the simple, and maddeningly complex issue. Liberty. Both for me, and thee.

    Thank you.

  97. Gaius, what if your family’s opinions were that you should hate black people? Or that gay people were evil?

    Should each of us give the opinions of our family “real weight” in the process of deciding whether or not we should ourselves hate blacks and gays, in order to avoid indulging in “excessive individualism”?

    Unfortunately, the only way to be able to distinguish between “good” opinions lobbied for by our loved ones, and “bad” ones, is to exercise our own judgment. And doing so reduces the “rootedness” you seem to be looking for to a mere courtesy – the best you can do is indulge in the forms of acknowledging the opinions of family, while using your own judgment to make the real determination.

  98. Seems to me in light of Eric .5‘s past postings that his defense of society would be a fight against the octopus of the state, not a kneeling before the calf.

  99. i would like to know why it is if anyone disagrees with anything this administation they’re consider unamerican.we all want every soldier to return home safety.this administation has lied about everything.i agree we should get bin ladin,but that has’t happen yet i thought that was the main person respossible for 9-11.so we go off in a another direction which had nothing to to do with 9-11(it was proven by the 9-11 commission)also had no weapons of mass destuction.each an every person who has spoken out about iraq war or anything else that we’ve been lied to they destroy good name.

  100. if it truly were your moral duty, your family wouldn’t try to stop you — they’d join you

    As it happens, my family would support me, if I could go. My mother joined the military years before having me.

    But I’m frankly curious how you define “moral duty” as being dependent on the opinions of those around them. If Alan wants to join the military to defend the US, and his family supports him, he’s adhering to his duty, but if Barry wants to do the same thing and his parents don’t want him to go, he isn’t? And I suppose Cecil, who holds your view on the impropriety of the invasion of Iraq, is not carrying out his moral duty if he doesn’t follow the wishes of his hawk family and wife and hop to for GWB?

    if you aren’t going to give their opinions the weight which would override your own desires — well, i submit that then there are no opinions you give any real weight to besides your own

    I said I would listen to them and possibly be convinced by what they said, but that I would have to make the decision myself, regardless of whether they agreed with it. If that’s insufficient to you, then you can only be arguing that if I don’t unquestioningly yield to my family’s opinions, I’m a scary hyperindividualist. It further sounds like the dichotomy you’re offering is between “hyperindividualism” and being an ant.

    As I’m not a Christian, unlike the rest of my family, I’m apparently already out of the hive. I’ll deal.

  101. fluffy writes:

    As a matter of fact, there seems to me to be something fundamentally dishonest about protest. There is an element of falseness embedded deep in its methodology, where it can’t be ferreted out, and where the sincerity of the individual protestor isn’t relevant.

    To quote the late, great Mitch Hedberg: “I’m against picketing, but I don’t know what to do about it.”

    FWIW, to the extent Fluffy’s complaint is that media attention to Sheehan is at odds with an ideal of rational discourse, I can’t disagree. But the President’s speech to the VFW — which consisted entirely of things he had previously said in one forum or another — is no different in that respect.

  102. Is it perhaps a persons moral duty, to be who they are, fully and with vigor, whether or not their name is Rush, or Cindy?

  103. Ms sheenan is on the wrong track,,,ok,,if she does like like Pres Bush,,ok if she does not like the war,,,but: (1) to make statements that this county is not worth dying for,,(2) she knew her son Casey,,,(3) her husband is divorcing her (4) her mom had a stroke,,(mostly likely because of her daughter’s views (5) the rest of her family disgrees with her via letters and one other son pleaded for her to come home…
    well now I would like to hear Ms Sheenan’s answers: (l) ask any family member,,who has lost a loved one in any of the previous wars and conflicts,,,was it worth dying for this county (2) why did her son Casey not only enlisted the lst time,,but also re-enlisted the 2nd time,,,obviously he also felt this country is worth dying for (3) (4) (4) did ms Sheenan ask her family,,(all of them) what their views are on this war,,,perhaps she just ignorned them in the past,,as she is ignorning them now,,,
    I do sympathize with all families to lost members,,but I, (as so many other men and women) had enlisted in the armed services,,,not because we wanted to see the world,,we enlisted because we love this great USA,,we did it because we wanted our loved ones safer,,we did it because at any moment we knew our country would definitly be worth DYING FOR…
    I think ms sheenan should get off her merry-go-round,,go back to her family and mend her ways,,,I firmily believe that is the only way this woman will attain peace of any sort..

  104. Gaius, to put it succintly, most people in this country think it’s worth dying for, while you dismiss this as worshipping a golden calf.

    I dare not more than mention the use of capital letters. 😉

    How are you not being a hyperindividualist?

  105. mr eric

    It’s “mr .5b” if you want to be formal or “eric” if you don’t. “semiapies” if you’re feelin’ your roman.

  106. In case anyone’s interested, two liberal, pro-American, Arab bloggers – the kind the Bush Administration hoped to “inspire” with its Iraqi excursion – are plenty pissed over the way Iraq’s constitution is shaping up. See here and here.

  107. Ah, yes – the Iraqi Constitution.

    The President is about to discover the perils of framing your war as exporting the revolution of democracy, instead of exporting the revolution of liberty.

    Democracy is a method, and not an end. Some of us have treated it as an end. The Iraqi people may teach us our mistake.

  108. George Bush and his handlers very smartly made it seem that it is being a traitor to say anything against this war.
    Which is why those mothers/wives and their families who have also lost a son will not speak out.
    They are afraid, they are very afraid!

  109. It is not whether Cindy Sheehan believes or not in the need of the war in Iraq, what matters is factual reality. I may believe that the moon is made of cheese but that doesn?t make Selene edible.

    War is ugly and only sadists like it; but sometimes ugly things become an unavoidable need, such as the detestable vertebral column lumbar surgery I had some time ago?lest I became a paraplegic.

    American warfare was needed to smash Nazi Germany, imperialistic Japan and Fascist Italy in WWII so that they could become the sound democracies they are now. By the same token, American warfare in Afghanistan and Iraq is an ugly need, required to establish solid roots there for an effective, secular democracy to help asphyxiate Jihadist Islamist mass-murderous terrorism.

    See the case of Turkey, an effective, secular democracy; terrorism there, sometimes of grave dimensions, is only a local, and police-manageable, issue.

    For the legitimate and genuine security of Americans -on American soil- we need effective, secular democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq, to along with Lebanon and Turkey form a tetrad of effective, secular democracies to help spread ?by capillarity, osmosis and example?and with a strong push from America- secular, effective democracy in the region, a feat that will be to Islamist Jihadists like sledgehammering a wood stake through Dracula?s heart.

  110. Gaius, my parents tried to (and did, unfortunately) prevent me from going to anything better than a fourth-tier state college. I don’t put much stock in either the wisdom or motives of parents.

  111. As a some-time pacifist, I have to ask these grieving mothers: Did you raise your child to believe that violence solves problems? Did you support your child joining the military? Then I hate to be cold and callous, but the bottom line is, when you join the military, be prepared for the worst. Be prepared for the military operation to be foolhardy.

    You don’t get to choose the battles your child can participate in. This isn’t daycare, or even private school, where you dictate what activities your child can and cannot join. You gave that up the day he/she signed on the dotted line. You gave your life to be used as the military chooses. It is not your own.

    How many people thought that they could sign up for the military for the BENEFITS? Well, I hate to tell you but the military has a very succinct business plan: TO KILL. And, those who live by the sword…..well you know the rest.

    I hate the hypocracy of those who cry and mourn the loss of their children, they gambled with their children’s lives and lost. Does this sound cold? Did they vote GWB into office knowing full well that the Republicans are the ‘hawks?’

    It is easy to become a pacifist when your child dies at the hands of the very government that you worship every morning as you say the pledge. It is difficult to be a pacifist day in and day out, when it is fashionable, and when it is unfashionable. Don’t wait for your child to die before you see the light. Don’t wait for your child to become 18. Take care of business NOW.

  112. Jessee

    Bill Clinton got those Rangers killed in Somalia because he refused to send them Armored support because he didn’t like the political consiquences of doing so. Yes, Bush Sr. got us into Somalia, but Clinton screwed it up and cut and ran and gave Bin Laden 10 years of propeganda about how weak and easily defeated the U.S. is. Further, my point was that had a mother done that, the media would have crucified her, unlike the fauning coverage they have given Sheenen.

  113. Really, if I didn’t know what was going on and just stumbled upon this group of women putting up signs and tables, putting out food and chatting amicably, I would have thought it was the local PTA throwing a high school dance

    Exactly. People who have jobs and responsibilities aren’t at Crawford, they’re at work. Which, is why one cannot assume that this represents a great middle class uprising against the war.

    It’s a skewed poll because the only people participating are those who can risk putting their life on hold for a while. The vast majority cannot do that no matter how fervently they might oppose the war.

  114. John: My comment was a response to Gaius, not to you. I think both Bush I and Clinton screwed up in Somalia, though I don’t think cutting & running was a mistake; more of an overdue correction.

    I haven’t seen nearly enough Sheehan coverage to generalize about it, but I know it isn’t all fawning. (Did you see this sneering piece?)

  115. John: My comment was a response to Gaius, not to you. I think both Bush I and Clinton screwed up in Somalia, though I don’t think cutting & running was a mistake; more of an overdue correction.

    Bush I may have been wrong to put us there, but he handled it well. Clinton screwed up major time, and cutting & running was a major mistake at that point.

  116. there are still those who understand the simple, and maddeningly complex issue. Liberty. Both for me, and thee.

    On this board, Skeptikos, I believe Ruthless is the tireless (although not always sober) champion of this principle.

    Democracy is a method, and not an end. Some of us have treated it as an end. The Iraqi people may teach us our mistake.

    So true, fluffy. If the end is liberty, any government is a compromise.

    Mr. .5b: Thanks for clearing up the method of address. Now would you kindly help me with pronounciation? point-five-BEE? HALF-bee? dot-five-tongue?

  117. My only comment to this, this woman is a mother who lost her son. She is hurting and when we get past the politics in this situation– that is what one can see–a mother who is hurting. As far as Bush, well, it seems to me that we are the voters in this country and for me, I would expect him to explain ?why did this really have to happen?

    At this point, this war has created a terrorist state in Iraq, so anything the US does going forward will be seen as a threat to them and other countries.

    Look at it from this point of view– if they did to us what we did to them, invaded our country, over threw our government, kill our people–would we be angry?

    my two cents?.take it or leave it?.I’ve had my say

  118. Seriously – has one person in America changed their opinion because of Cindy Sheehan?

  119. Seriously – has one person in America changed their opinion because of Cindy Sheehan?

    I doubt it. I just don’t believe statements like this one:
    my farm family from central wisconsin has gone from putting W signs on their lawn to calling him another lying politician.

    I constantly hear stories about supposed staunch Bush supporters who have ‘seen the light’ and now wish they never voted for him twice. I’ve yet to meet one of these people.

  120. “Look at it from this point of view– if they did to us what we did to them, invaded our country, over threw our government, kill our people–would we be angry?”

    Well, it depends.

    If Pat Robertson launched a coup and set up a “Handmaid’s Tale” government, and a foreign power attacked us, I would gladly side with that foreign power against my fellow Americans. That means that there are circumstances under which another power could, indeed, invade our country, overthrow our government, and kill our people, without making me angry.

  121. Don: Clinton (or his administration) was responsible for some serious military errors, but I wouldn’t shrug off the mistake of sending in troops in the first place.

    The foreign troops’ departure turned out to be good for Somalia, because it forced the country to make its own peace. I’m sure it could have been handled with more political savvy — “declare victory and go home” and all that — but the departure itself was necessary.

  122. Cindy Sheehan is a kook. Are people marching in the streets demanding an end to this war??? Only in the feeble mind of the left, where a protest of 20 indicates the coming end of the illegal war, the impeachment of the chimp, etc….

    Its old, the raison d’etre of the left is hatred of all things Bush…so Cindy is your martyr. Kook Cindy can hang around Crawford all she wants, she won’t change my mind.

  123. George Bush has already broken 3 of the 10 commandments – Don’t lie, covet or kill.

    Which commandment is next?

  124. “Which commandment is next?”

    Well, he supports the anti-flag burning amendment, which is arguably idolatry.

  125. my parents tried to (and did, unfortunately) prevent me from going to anything better than a fourth-tier state college.

    why, mr crane?

  126. “you don’t seem to be able to envision a circumstance in that definition by which you would concede that your judgment is not the sole determinant.”

    Actually, I would go further and say that not only can I not envision that circumstance, I don’t think such a circumstance is possible, for me or for anyone else.

    I defer to the judgment of my doctor when he tells me that my cholesterol is too high. I do not defer to the judgment of my crazy uncle who believes that there are UFOs at Area 51.

    But, the only way for me to differentiate between those times when I will defer judgment and those times when I will not is for me to… [drumroll] …exercise my judgment. [Acknowledgement: this paragraph stolen from Geddy Lee.]

    This means that even apparent deferences actually aren’t deferences at all. They are merely instances where another’s judgment is either in accord with my own, or has been “hired” by my own – I’m still the one actually exercising my judgment, and if I call it “deference” that’s merely my way of flattering myself that I am tactful.

    I think the sort of “deference” you’re describing, if I’m reading your cultural nostalgia properly, never existed as a psychological reality. No one ever actually surrendered their judgment to another solely out of amity. They did it out of fear. Fear of the consequences of alienating a family authority [in the days when families had practical authorities to exercise], fear of a church [in the days when church authorities had concrete physical, social, or psychological punishments at their disposal], etc. Fear makes it possible to hold one judgment [honestly] and to surrender that judgment to another [honestly]. If you are hoping to duplicate by voluntary action the type of “connectedness” which was previously created by fear, you have to fail – because by definition [as above] any voluntary judgment will always be an individual one, and when a voluntary judgment appears to be a non-invidual one, that appearance is illusory. [Acknowledgement: this paragraph stolen from Walter Lippman.]

  127. George Bush has already broken 3 of the 10 commandments – Don’t lie, covet or kill.

    Well, I bet he has failed to keep the Sabbath, but I doubt that was one you had in mind.

    Also, I wasn’t aware that George Bush has killed anyone. I thought the only thing on his record was that drunk driving thing.

  128. i disagree, mr fluffy — i think it’s perfectly valid and indeed necessary under most circumstances to defer to an authority on the basis of no individual reasoning or judgment of the moment — and this because all people’s judgments are seriously flawed. there are obviously limitations on this, but it would be more apporpriate to say that there are limitations on the efficacy of individual judgment to supercede authority than the other way around.

    just because you decide that you should be driving on the left today doesn’t make that a productive idea.

    to the extent that fear is compelling in making you drive on the right — or not murder me, to take another example — it’s perfectly healthy. do you think all fear is bad, mr fluffy? i would submit that fear has become a cultural obsession in our decay precisely because it is so effective in keeping society glued together in spite of the individuals who would rather undermine it. remove fear, and chaos would ensue (despite what any utopian natural law advocate might want to believe). of course, its a two-way street — the management class should be appropriately fearful of their charge as well.

    however, i further submit that this society did once exist in a time of cultural cohesion, where proletariats were not set against a management class in a conflict of interests. there is extensive historical research on the veracity of that condition during the flowering of western civilization.

  129. While anyone can understand the pain she must be feeling from the loss of her son………..that is where the understanding stops as far as enlightening us with her “Somehow she knows something we don’t” view on the war.While she is entitled to it,it is no different then the same rhetoric thats been spouted by the Democrats whenever they feel it is beneficial to them.I mean even John Kerry voted for the war………… after he voted aginst it of course.Heck,even Hillary is aligning herself with the military in a attempt to be more mainstream moderate(which tones down the “Bush is no better then Hitler” type comments) this from a lady who said she would never have nothing to do with the “Evil military” not that long ago. Nothing worthy and good could come from a public meeting of the president and Mrs.Sheehan only because she has stated her views and in my opinion it is borderline lunatic fringe(“this country is not worth fighting for” for one.I wonder if her son felt the same way)and while she would have an open forum to tell all of us uninformed Americans how our president is a liar and evil madman who enjoys sending our boys off to foreign lands to get killed for his own sheer enjoyment,or any of the other less then admiral intentions that Pres.Bush has been accused of,the president would only have his firm denial of the accusations stated in the respectful tone that reflects his true compassion for a mother who has lost her son defending this country.(and if you don’t think it’s important to be in the middle east I can only say that the beginning of the end of this world has already started there,we can only hope it changes………………like with democracy or something close to it.How long will it be before this hot bed of US hatred has nuclear weapons at their disposal to be used as frequently as the crude car bombs they now use daily)
    And to keep with the original intent,should we get the many mothers who have lost a son (or daughter)in this endeavor who feel exactly the opposite about the operation and have nothing but respect for the president and pit them against Ms Sheehan……………………as if one persons view is more important then the other? Of course not!!!! And that’s why Ms Sheehans views are nothing more then just that………….her views,yet everybody understands her grief and doesn’t want to say anything disrespectful.If my president changed his foreign policy everytime someone camped out in front of his house for a period of time I would say “It’s time for a new president”
    I do think our troops are doing the right thing,and more importantly,so do 95% of the troops that return……………alive.And I’m sure 95% of the ones that will forever rest in Arlington. GOD BLESS THE US MARINES!!!! And all the other arms of the service!!!!
    And GOD BLESS AMERICA……………it IS worth fighting for!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  130. Mr. .5b: Thanks for clearing up the method of address. Now would you kindly help me with pronounciation? point-five-BEE? HALF-bee? dot-five-tongue?

    “Point-five bee” is my preference. “half-a-bee” is acceptable. “Eric” works. 🙂

  131. “I would have to make the decision myself, regardless of whether they agreed with it.”

    the thing is, mr .5b (and my apologies if i insulted you with my prior colloquialism),

    Not at all.

    you don’t seem to be able to envision a circumstance in that definition by which you would concede that your judgment is not the sole determinant.

    I explicitly listed one circumstance (caring for a child). I can imagine quite a few others where I could not honorably choose to enlist – mainly those where my absence will outright harm others.

    few can seem to muster the humility to defer to the judgment of another when they disagree with it.

    It’s one thing to defer judgement to someone with greater expertise or responsibility for a given thing. Making a decision that ultimately falls to oneself can’t be deferred. A potential enlistee may indeed have obligations and duties that must be honored by choosing not to enlist – but that is his/her responsibility to make that choice.

    the underlying assumption is either that you are the best evaluator of the world you know of — or that no one should have say over anyone else.

    It is simply that most often, one is the best evaluator of one’s corner of the world.

    “most people in this country think it’s worth dying for, while you dismiss this as worshipping a golden calf.”

    as to the state — that mechanism is not society, as i’m sure we can agree.

    You try to evade the point. Most people within our society believing in the worth of dying to preserve the country in the form of the society and the state that governs it – if with the caveat that if anyone has to die, it should genuinely be for that purpose. You’re refusing to defer to the judgement of a lot of people, so you’re being hyperindividualist, by your expressed standards.

  132. Has Mrs. Sheehan forgotten that it was her son who volunteered, not once, but twice to go to Iraq? Has she forgotten that the wars fought before this one are for the reasons she has the ability to protest and enjoy her freedom. Has Mrs. Sheehan forgotten to let her son rest in peace?

    Can someone answer these questions?

  133. You’re refusing to defer to the judgement of a lot of people, so you’re being hyperindividualist, by your expressed standards.

    a lot of people who are not of the society, ultimately, and do not wish to be. how else can one explain the nationalist contempt for our kin in france, germany, england, italy, spain and brussels?

    there’s more people in our society than just americans, mr .5b.

  134. Has Mrs. Sheehan forgotten that it was her son who volunteered, not once, but twice to go to Iraq?

    Yes.

    She’s also conveniently overlooked the fact that even though he was in a non-combat position, he volunteered for the combat mission on which the people she calls “freedom fighters” killed her son.

    Has she forgotten that the wars fought before this one are for the reasons she has the ability to protest and enjoy her freedom?

    Of course, although I will concede the point that our recent wars have failed to support this specific premise. Rather, they have tended to either be mistakes (Korea, Viet Nam), or have been in defense of our somewhat more precious right to simply remain alive (the present war, and to a lesser extent, WWs I & II).

    Has Mrs. Sheehan forgotten to let her son rest in peace?

    Obviously. I wonder, too, how she related to him when he was alive? His actions in re-enlisting during wartime, knowing that he would very likely be sent into the Iraqi theater, would tend to demonstrate a worldview somewhat at odds with hers.

    Was she as devoted to her son in life, even if they disagreed about the war (which does seem likely), as she claims to be now?

    Did she tell her son that he was going to war to support the Zionists and a murderer in the White House? Did she share with him her bizarre views regarding our alleged use of nuclear weapons in Iraq?

    Or did she tell him that she was proud of his choices, proud of his accomplishments, and, while worried for his safety, proud of his commitment to this nation?

    Just wondering…

  135. there’s more people in our society than just americans, mr .5b.

    There’s far more than one society in the world.

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