Clearing the Fog
in the
War of Words


  logomachy--1. A dispute about words. 2. A dispute carried on in words only; a battle of words.
logomachon--1. One who argues about words. 2. A word warrior.



Kerry Spot Does Applebee's

The usually excellent Kerry Spot at NRO recommends this balderdash to us:
I also think there is something to this assessment of Democratic leaders' cultural divide from red state voters:
One veteran Democratic strategist, Clinton White House political director Doug Sosnik, sums up the answer in one word: Applebee’s.

For Sosnik, the chain of modestly priced restaurants (more than 1,600 in 49 states), symbolizes precisely what is wrong with the party’s Washington-based elite.

Democratic leaders are out of touch with the American people, Sosnik said in a panel discussion Tuesday sponsored by the centrist Democratic Leadership Council (DLC).

“The leadership of our party has a cultural disconnect,” Sosnik said. “Our leaders — particularly Washington, D.C.-based — don’t really have the same life, day to day, as all those people out there in those red states. We don’t eat at the same restaurants. I don’t know how many politicians in town that are leaders of our party who voluntarily go to Applebee’s, unless it’s for work. You look at the swing voters out there, what their sporting events are, the music they listen to, the celebrities, the television programs, it’s just not what the East Coast leadership (watches) — it’s not quite where we are.”
That's one of the instant simplistic clichés that substitute for thought in political journalism. [Ed. What is it about journalists and politicians that they think anything that fits in a sound bite and headline slug is profound? Ans. I don’t know…and aren’t you supposed to be ranking on me, not other people?]

Where are the Applebee’s Republicans?

First, just ask yourself What’s so special—or especially dim—about Democrats. How many Republican big suits think taking the kids or the old folks to Applebee's is a neat evening out? Heart surgeon Bill Frist? Karl Rove? Mary Matalin? Even Sen. Rick "Cheaper by the Dozen" Santorum? Great folks, all. I am in awe of Santorum and his wife, who really walk the pro-life walk [Ed. don't be too hard on yourself. You've never claimed to be pro-life, just anti-abortion. And you haven't liked kids since you own kids were born and all the other sprats came to look like vermin over-population greedily trying to snatch nuts and berries from your offspings’ mouths.]

Great folks, but you won't find them at Applebee's. [Ed. Better admit that you are aggressively ignorant of spectator sports, pop music, TV, and celebrities, and you loathe Applebee's, much preferring Pizzeria Uno for that sort of night out.]

That’s one.

No basis in fact

The liberal elite, which can voice their shock and frustration in the public prints, are projecting their feelings onto the unsuspecting electorate. There’s no glory in losing because a few million swing voters leaned a bit more for Bush this time than they did for Clinton eight years ago. Far better for one’s self esteem to be an embattled remnant of enlightenment overwhelmed by semi-human brutes who shop in big-box stores and salute the flag. That’s a soothing fantasy.

Face it: Bush won by less then 2 per cent of the vote. That’s right. If 2% of the voters had switched their votes, Kerry would the one claiming a 4 point mandate. This is not a polarized electorate. This is not a country where the red state hordes crushed the brave Democrats. As this Purple America map suggests, we are an evenly divided electorate.

In fact, this whole elitist NOKD (Not Our Kind, Dear) snit against the red states is so baseless that I have to conclude that it is all about liberal narcissism, not political analysis. [Ed. But you think that everything liberals do is about narcissism.]

True but irrelevant

Third, saying Democrats don’t understand Applebee’s customers is true but irrelevant. It doesn’t matter whether the Democrats understand Republicans. The Democrats represent whom they represent. There just happens at this time to be about 2% too few of them to win elections. [Ed. Aren’t you contradicting the “no basis in fact” point above? That was the losing part. This is the “don’t understand” part. The premise is true but the consequence didn’t happen.]

Can the Democrats turn the numbers around?. I don’t think there is a pool of non-voting potential Democrat voters out there who could be recruited to overtake the Republicans. 120 million actual voters probably exceeds the number of citizens with an adequate number of brain cells to vote intelligently. That nearly 10% were undecided at the beginning of October shows the supply of intelligent voters is pretty near tapped out.

For a while, the numbers will be moving against the Democrats. Pace the Purple Map above, this red county-blue county map shows there are only a half dozen true blue states. Most so-called blue states are really red states with blue urbanations. The red states and the red counties are growing in population. The 2000 red states picked up seven Electoral College votes between 2000 and 2004 just from the 2000 census. There will be more red-county voters in 2008 and the change will reach the Electoral College in 2012.

That leaves conversion. And here the Democrats come up against their real problem. It is not that they don’t understand red staters; their difficulty is that red staters understand them. The Democrats are the party of acid, amnesty, arrogant self-absorption, and abortion, and no others need apply. The self-anointed saints of the Democrat party, the high-toned old post-Christian women and the humorless scolds, the self-mutilators and baby cutters, the limousine liberals and radicchio snobs, have driven out all the sinners, the breeders who think sex is about self-giving love and life, the producers who want to enjoy what they earn, and patriots who rejoice in the debt they owe for what they have been given.

What do the Democrats have to offer someone who rejects the Democrats’ bitter, narcissistic nihilism and elitist social engineering? Not much. And suppose they managed to entice some swing voters with a few items from the Applebee’s menu. Where would the Dems put them? Where would they be willing to sit? Who in the present party would be willing to sit next to them, let alone join them at Applebee’s?


“Shame is the Reality”

Jay Tea at Wizbang writes “In praise of civilian casualties”. He doesn’t really lust for civilian deaths. His point is that over-sensitivity is counter-productive.

His argument is that once the NGO jihadists find that we will grant them a zone of sanctuary if they hide among civilians, they will do it all the time, ultimately causing more American and civilian deaths. He points to what happened with mosques. Our first reaction was restraint, and the mujihadin immediately began using mosques as ammo dumps, assembly points, observation posts, and firing positions. The result was that we had to treat mosques as military targets, and more mosques have been damaged than would have been if we had flattened the first one.

Jay Tea's post stirs an idea that I've been kicking around for a while, namely, that the guards at Abu Ghraib had the right idea, just at the wrong time and the wrong place.

As soon as I saw the pictures of a American woman smirking at kneeling, naked Iraqi men, I recognized the special humiliation the pictures would convey to Arab/Islamic viewers. She is a woman looking on a man’s nakedness. She is in pants and tee-shirt—virtually naked by tribal/Islamic standards. She is a soldier in men’s garb—a double offense against all that is right and decent to Muslims.

I was prepared for outrage from Arab sources. I wasn’t prepared to read in the Washington Times of the former prisoner who felt so humiliated that he had been unable to return to his home neighborhood. Now that the pictures had been published, he had no hope of ever returning. He would have to emigrate.

Where did he think he would go, he was asked. Oh, America would be his first choice. In America, nobody cares what has happened to you.

He got that right.

Arab tribal culture is primarily an honor-shame-revenge society , quite different from a primarily justification-guilt-justice society like the US. In Arab culture, if I piss on your boots, you have been shamed. The only way you can recover your amour propre is to diminish me, say by killing me or raping my sister (or sometimes by raping your brother; as I said, it’s different). In America, you want me to admit or be convicted of doing wrong. Chances are I agree with you that pissing on your boots is wrong, but the critical difference with Arab culture is that the focus is not on making you whole or at least dishonoring me; the focus is on making whole an abstract principle, Justice, in the name of the community.

How does this apply to US policy? The Iraqi attitudes that Americans find most incomprehensible—not to say idiotic—are the anger and blame that Iraqis direct against the US for invading their country. They’re glad Saddam is gone. They acknowledge that his henchmen, or worse, will prevail if we leave. As though to confirm every suspicion we have had about Muslims’ tenuous connection to reality, they say the invasion and occupation have shamed them, because they overthrew Saddam, or were about to, or would have. And what had Iraq ever done to us, anyway?

The U.S. approach from the beginning has been to try to minimize the subordination of the Iraqi people and the incompetence of their society. In other words, what we would think of as putting shame on them. This is precisely the wrong initial goal. The problem is that Iraqis have not been shamed enough, and they have not been shamed by the right person,. Our goal should have been to make their shame unavoidable and undeniable, and to make us the agents of the ending of their era of shame.

Instead of treating Saddam as a fugitive from blind Western justice, US propaganda should have emphasized that he had humiliated the entire Iraqi population. Instead of reprimanding the soldier who threw Old Glory over the face of Saddam’s statue as US soldiers pulled it down, we should have built on that image. We should have publicized the myriad ways that Saddam humiliated the people, how he robbed, raped, tortured, and mutilated them. They should have been shown that Saddam had shamed them before all the world. Iraqis should have had months of a steady diet of posters and videos showing how Saddam had ground them into the mud, and we had saved them. We should have rubbed their faces in it.

Perhaps then they would have recognized that they had not been defeated by US aggression but by Saddam and the politics that grew out of their own hearts. It might have put them in a more realistic frame of mind for the nation building that was necessary. We didn’t need to have conversations like this with the Germans and Japanese:
“We, the Iraqi people, overthrew Saddam”—Crap.
“We were innocent victims”—More crap.
"The insurgents are Iraqi freedom fighters"--Sorry, that's Michael Moore, but still crap.
“You Americans should have . . .”— Shut the f* up. Whatever you were going to say, it’s just more crap. You Iraqis were harboring a dirt-bag monster. Your whole country was an offense against all that is clean, decent, holy, and life-giving. Get used to it! We are the cleansing sword of Allah. Get on your knees and give thanks.
I always regretted that the U.S. acceded to Muslim and secular western sensibilities and stopped referring to the “war on terror” as a crusade. It seems that Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi is naming the operations to clean out Islamofascist strong points in the Sunni triangle. They should name the whole campaign Cleansing Sword.

One of the peculiar bits of nonsense practiced by the German Nazis was to put “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work makes you Free) over the gates to concentration camps. In the case of Abu Ghraib, it would be a declaration of sanity to put a sign “Shame is the Reality”.



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