Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Operation "Adopt an Ostrich"

People. Our national (and world) crisis has reached the point -- amid an all-out assault upon western traditions of law, openness and accountability -- that I believe it is time to re-institute the draft. I mean a special kind of draft, insisting that all decent modern citizens simply have to take on duties on the nation’s desperate POLITICAL FRONT.

Seriously, all of us know hopeless “ostrich conservatives” - who cling desperately to the notion that Bush & Co are regrettable... but “certainly no worse than Clinton was.”

This is where the battle must be fought. It is time to grab these people into head-locks and not let go until they admit that, this time, it is their side that has gone completely mad.

ostrichpapersI want to announce a new program. Adopt an ostrich will be a nationwide endeavor under which every single moderate American, or reasonable liberal, will latch onto ONE decent person whom they know to be one of these head-in-the-sand conservatives. People who used to stand by Barry Goldwater or Bob Dole or Billy Graham... ALL of whom thought very highly of Bill Clinton, by the way! All three of whom utterly despised the dark directions that they saw modern “neo” conservatism heading.

Yes, the administration of George W. Bush has plummeted to deep levels of unpopularity. They lost the recent Congressional elections, a great first step toward reclaiming the United States and our Great Experiment. But clearly, it is not enough.

There must be a tipping point, somwehere up ahead, where the rising national revulsion sweeps up millions of Goldwater-Dole-Graham-Reagan conservatives, too. Where denial can no longer be supported and decent people cry out Enough! A point when loyal-but-self-deluding men and women in the civil service and CIA and FBI and US Officer Corps shake themselves out of their stunned torpor, realize that genuine treason is afoot, and decide that it is their job to stand up, to take some initiative and help us all to deal with the most poisonous threat to our civilization since communism.

This tipping point, I have come to realize, will only happen after hard work at the grass roots. One reluctant, bitterly delusional republican at a time. Because there is little more than can be achieved simply by hoping that our fellow citizens will heed all the bad news. The one-third that is left has their ears covered. Their eyes are closed while they shake their heads going “Nah! Nah! Nah!”

(Recent science shows that doing this is physically chemically addictive. And yes, liberals do it too.)

No, if we are to reach the tipping point, it will have to be down, way down, at the level of individual citizenship. Each of us can -- and must -- hammer at just one or two ostriches, until they wake up from hysterical denial. And when enough of them do -- when advertising revenues on Fox News start shriveling and GOP reps in suburban America start screaming in pain -- we may start to see the REAL uprising against monsters. A quiet revolution in which heroes in the civil service and intelligence agencies and law enforcement etc stymie what is left of this administration of horrors. Simply by doing their jobs.

At least enough so that we can hope to REACH the next set of elections with a nation still largely intact.

No, I am not talking about converting truly rabid neocons, or truly corrupt kleptocrats, or the maniacal ultra-fanatics who are cramming Intelligent Design down our throats. They are a much smaller minority than the one-third who still officially back the president. Moreover, we do not need them, or their nasty "culture war".

We do need your decent neighbor or uncle, who would take you in, if your house burned down. Whose conservatism is not so awful that he or she would turn back the clock on civil or womens’ rights. Indeed, whose views include a few that may be worth listening to... if we can just take care of more important business, first. (Go ahead and promise that you will listen. A bit. Later. If he or she will first listen to his nation’s call.)

Do it. Pick an ostrich andgrab his or her lapel. Do not let go. Make lists and keep citing one travesty after another, while asking: “What would you have said if Bill Clinton did this?”

And “would you have LET Clinton send our entire army, marines and reserves to be ground down in a hostile foreign land, on the excuse of pure lies, in a grunt land war of attrition without any goal, run by meddling politicians who never saw a day of combat, all in a futile attempt at so-called nation-building?”

They will sputter and fume. They will try to claim that “Whitewater” -- involving $80,000 -- represented corruption equal to Halliburton stealing tens of billions from our boys and girls in Iraq. They will claim that Clinton’s fib about Monica was worse than outright lies about WMDs or terrorism or promises to “listen to our generals.” Or that an administration dedicated to decreasing secrecy can even be compared to one that has multiplied darkness and unaccountability one hundredfold. Or that political activity by today’s eviscerated labor unions can be compared to outright control of our government by a new feudal, kleptocratic caste.

They will writhe and squirm and try all of this -- and dozens of other contrived excuses and polemical tricks. Denial is powerful and you must gird yourself to be utterly relentless. Even if you live in a “blue” state, you will still be a soldier for civilization if you do this.

It matters.

When people switch from Fox News to MSNBC, the masters will notice. Their solidarity will start to crumble. More henchmen will blow whistles. Then some of them will start to break.

It may be wishful thinking. But it seems our best hope. Moreover, it depends on the one bet we have always made, since the American Revolution. A wager on the People.


SEE: The Ostrich Papers: How it will take all decent Americans to restore decency to America


Anonymous said...

"would you have LET Clinton send our entire army, marines and reserves to be ground down in a hostile foreign land"

Only about 5% of our total military, 10% of our active forces, and 20% of the army, are in Iraq. About 75% of active duty troops are in the US.

A more subtle question would be what percentage of combat experienced and ready troops are tied up. But in theory, anyone in uniform could be called upon to go into combat.

David Brin said...

Forgive. I meant "used up." There are very few brigades, even in the US, that aren't worn down, with tired equipment and exhausted soldiers who have done almost nothing other than counter-insurgency warfare ever since 2003.

I have been to the National Training Center, at Ft. Irwin and talked to the "top gun" instructors there. It has been a long time since a full brigade has gone there for large scale field exercises of the kind that prepare a unit to face coordinated battle against a large and well-equipped field army.

Nowadays, company-sized units come in dribbles to do duck-cover-and-advance drills in little faux arab villages. Good training! (The Officer Corps is, indeed, highly professional.) And maybe useful in the coming century.

But are there NO pundits or politicians, or even bloggers, of right OR left, who will comment that our army no longer trains or prepares to fight other armies?

The same force that blitzed the huge military of Saddam in 1991 and drove him out of Kuwait would be hard pressed to repeat the same task, today. That is significant. It is meaningful. It is devastating.

And it underlines the utter hypocrisy of so-called patriots like Hannity and O'Reilly and that whole crowd, who would have screeched like banshees if Clinton had committed a tenth as many crimes against our noble military men and women.

Or against the skilled professionals of the civil service and Justice Department and so many other pinnacles of adult competence, who are now under relentless seige by monsters. By morons.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and folks...keep at it. If you're not careful, people who you thought you had persuaded can lapse back into a state of careless acquiescence. How far you have to go may depend on exactly how ingrained their convictions are. My boss--quite unexpectedly; the fellow is a dyed-in-the-wool theocon and gun nut--began expressing serious concerns about the disastrous condition of our military months ago. I was sure he had turned, or was on the verge of turning; I gave him a good hard prod in the conscience and let him be for a while. Everything seemed all right until night before last, when he suddenly appeared to be only mildly concerned.

Maybe he's hyped about the "surge". Maybe he's queasy over all the Democrats in Congress. Or maybe he's just distracted. But he's a persuasive fellow himself, so he's worth keeping at.

Don't give up.

Anonymous said...

OK. This really takes the cake:

Gonzales: Judges unfit to rule on terror policy

Attorney general says federal jurists should defer to president's will

Jebus Frakking Cthulhu, who does this guy think he is? Who does he think Bush is?

Could it be more than right-wing ideology that makes an seemingly educated and intelligent man feel beholden to a inept wanker of a President? What does Bush -- or Karl Rove -- HAVE on him? Compromising pictures of Gonzales in a petting zoo after hours?

Anonymous said...

As an occasional visitor who admits to being a Republican I suppose I could be called an "ostrich". Although it is a bit unfair. I understand ostrichs don't actually do that head in the sand thing.
David, I do not accept all your premises. But I concur that there is no realistic prospect for a military solution in Iraq. But "ostrichism" is bipartisan. The Democratic party, plus those Republicans who side with them on this issue have the means and motive to provide leadership. Iraq is not an anomaly, it is part and parcel of our national, cheap oil energy non policy. Where is the legislation raising mpg standards, funding alternative energy, heck, putting caps on oil imports? House of Reps can do this, even recognizing it can only provide leadership, not rule by itself. Can the Dems and their allies put aside their own political concerns to do the right thing? And lets be honest with ourselves. Departure from Iraq, perhaps inevitable, may well result in massive immigration. Are we going to open the door to them? Who else will? Finally, let those who want us to leave weigh in on this thought. Do you have any reason to doubt that anybody who cooperated in any way with America will be beheaded live on AlJazera? Also anybody found with the wrong Shia/Sunni credentials. Can you doubt that it will be far, far worse than the aftermath of Vietnam, where re education camps were the usual destination. Can you live with this?
We may have to, but lets think ahead and ask ourselves.

David Brin said...

I agree that it all comes together. Clearly blackmail is pervasive and there are far to many important American civil servants who feel too intimidated and (let's be fair) too loyal to their families, to recall that their first loyalty should be to their nation and civilization.

Honestly, I don't know how I'd respond to some of the more far out threats. Like: "We have a micro bomb installed in the neck of your child - so always do what we want."

I mean yipes, What do you do in that case? Hope that somebody higher in the conspiracy, some henchman near the bomb control, will do his duty and destroy the codes? Or obey the order, but in such a way that it seems SO stupid that the public gets ticked off?

That is where today's blog riff comes in. The heroism of guys like Gonzales, taking huge risks in order to exaggerate their treasonous actions (so that we'll notice and get pissed off) must be honored! We cannot let them take such noble risks, deliberately seeming like outrageous morons and taitors to every democratic principle, without helping, by doing our part, down at the grassroots.

Mabus, keep asking your chosen trog to close his eyes and imagine "if Clinton had done this." Whatever the excuse. Say, firing EVEN ONE US Attorney for investigating corrupt politicians, let alone SEVEN of them! And replacing them with hacks.

Remind him that this has already been done in Defense and CIA and FBI.

Ask him to BET whether or not he could find even ONE political appointee at each of those departments, who has not served as BOTH a close GOP political hack AND a paid consultant for the r oil house. Ask him if he would have put up with ONE such case under Clinton.

The Bushites have done these almost a thousand times, bullying and intimidating the skilled pros who we all depend upon.

Tell him you are PISSED at the dems for not focusing in on this relentless treason and for only tepidly standing up for the brave men and women of the Officer Corps and CIA, FBI, Justice and civil service. Tell him THAT is a good way to express his ire against wimpy liberals!

Give him a line of retreat (as Sun Tzu would recommend.) One that lets him keep some of his precious biases, but re-assign them in useful ways.

Then ask him to bet... money on the line... how many presidential pardons GWB will issue, in December 2008.

Oh, the list goes on and on. Ask him to wager whether more Bushites will goe to jail for malfeasance in the performance of their official duties than Clintonites. (Not fair, since ZERO Clintonites were ever even INDICTED for official acts, and scores of goppers have been so far, despite obstruction at Justice and the wholesale firing of US Attorneys.)

And if your chosen ostrich has a lovely black-helicopter paranoid streak, set his nightmares going by asking "if an enemy installed Manchurian Candidates in the White House... how would their behavior differ - at all - from what we're seeing now?"

David Brin said...

Tacitus, I honor you for being here. But you are engaging in a classic ostrich maneuver. You are pretending that all of this is somehow about either pragmatic realpolitik or about policy.

Yes, policy issues are important. Ideally, I'd love to see Congress introduce measures to raise gasoline taxes and raise the retirement age, two instant measures that would overnight transform the stupid allocation of resources in America and prod people toward more mature behavior patterns.

ANd you honestly expect Pelosi etc to pick up those live grenades? Right now? Oh, sure. Open their jugulars to be sliced by the most politically ruthless political animals and worse (Karl Rove) since Cato and Brutus. Right.

Likewise when it comes to realpolitik, like citing the oil thing in Iraq. Where our invasion was supposed to "pay for itself" instead of costing us half a trillion dollars.

Idiots on both sides of the spectrum keep claiming all of this was about "oil" without ever, even once, raising a plausible explanation of how this might be so. Let me give you the lie direct. It was never about WMDs or terrorism, nor about getting even with Saddam. It was never about building democracy in the Middle East or "nation building." And it has never, ever, ever been about oil.

Tacitus, please, remove head from sand. This is about a concerted and coordinated counter-revolution against enlightenment power structures within the United States of America. The prize is here, now, and it is all of the marbles for the rest of the 21st Century. It is for nothing less that total control over all media, all levers of power and all the money.

There are no actions, by this administration or any of its friends, that are not consistent with this explanation. Find one that is inconsistent with it.

Anonymous said...

Well, I stand charged with pragmatism, to which I plead guilty. I have put forward a couple of consequences of precipitate withdrawal and you have not commented on them. I can put forward positive consequences as well if it would be necessary.
Yes, I do expect my elected officials to remember why they have earned our trust. This last election was in large measure about the Iraq war, by your various points of view about the morality or competence of it. If on taking their oathes of office the new guard starts to put re election over the wishes of the public then we are just replacing one bunch of self serving office holders with another. Pelosi is too sharp to take the lead, ask Chuck Hegel. I voted for Democrats and Republicans, this election as generally. I expect them to show some courage, and if they can't see that the moment is correct for the nation to follow it, they are less worthy than we credit them.
W as a master conspiritor. I will have to chew that one over a bit. Easier for me to believe a sub par candidate who becomes Pres by historical accident. And our bad luck to have an era defining event happen on his watch.
But, enjoy the exchange as slways.

David Brin said...

As I enjoy you, too. You are here. You are a modernist.

But I must reiterate. This is not about Iraq.

Yes, I would cut our losses there, having vastly strengthened BOTH the Iranians and the Saudis, wi would leave them to suffer there, as we have. The present situation serves both of them entirely and us, not at all.

My earlier suggestion of "Kurdistan Plus" would have put most of our troops where they were well-loved (till we started deliberately abusing and offending the kurds, last week; did anyone else notice Condi's latest brilliance?) It would reserve the northern oil for our friends and for those sunnis who seek US/Kurdish protection and stop shooting at us.

But I am just as good with total and immediate withdrawal. REturning our abused reserves to their cities, families and jobs and immediately resuming training equiping our army & marines for genuine duties defending this country in dangerous times.

All of which misses the point! Iraq is not what any of this is about and IT IS NOT THE BASIS UPON WHICH THE AMERICAN PEOPLE JUST TROUNCED THE GOP.

The issue at stake is not Iraq, but America. That is the grand prize, the thing truly worth either conquering or defending. One third of the people have switched from falling for these monsters to seeing them for what they are. But W's folks are perfectly willing to wage continued culture war backed by only one remaining third.

We must keep pushing to the tipping point. When the professionals will feel safe enough to come out of hiding and see their duty.

Anonymous said...

Finally, let those who want us to leave weigh in on this thought. Do you have any reason to doubt that anybody who cooperated in any way with America will be beheaded live on AlJazera? Also anybody found with the wrong Shia/Sunni credentials.

I am very sad to say that this has likely already happened on a fairly wide scale. Generals have already testified that being undermanned had forced them to shuttle from city to city, and in the process leave collaborators behind to die.

Ethnic cleansing is also said to be already complete or near completion (ALREADY) in some outlying districts in the country.

Worse, a recent attack (doubting the first) has taken place at a university. The exact kind of people needed to pull anything resembling a modern state together are under fire.

Personally, I would like to see those who instigated and fought for this war to happen in the first place to be placed on the ground with "infidel" tied around their necks.

There is a tiny glimmer of hope in the recent expedition to Darfur. A New Mexico governor - with no power to compel or bribe, just his own ability to arbitrate between two sides - managed to at least hold the blood-letting for a short time. I'm sure there are realist reasons for this (objectives already acheived, maybe some payoff), but it was something.

But, really, there's not much to expect now. There is only an aftermath to be managed with much planning, support and aid to the right people. Especially in a reformed Iraqi security force.

Don Quijote said...


Unless you are this guy, I would consider using another handle, don't take my word for it, search the Blogosphere for tacitus and you will find the love.

Finally, let those who want us to leave weigh in on this thought. Do you have any reason to doubt that anybody who cooperated in any way with America will be beheaded live on AlJazera?

That is the fate that usually awaits traitors.

Also anybody found with the wrong Shia/Sunni credentials. Can you doubt that it will be far, far worse than the aftermath of Vietnam, where re education camps were the usual destination.

Should have thought of that before invading...

When people switch from Fox News to MSNBC, the masters will notice.

Sad to say that moving from the hard right fascist to the center right enablers is considered progress.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the same statement by Tacitus: Do you have any reason to doubt that anybody who cooperated in any way with America will be beheaded live on AlJazera? Also anybody found with the wrong Shia/Sunni credentials.

Is that the reason you suggest for our keeping (or even "surging") troops in Iraq? In effect those are police functions, not the functions of a military force... unless, of course, you're using that military force as a conquering.... er... I mean "nation building" ;) force.

As far as I'm concerned we went in under false pretenses, executed the plan improperly (the wrong "mission statement", if you will) and in remaining we have only made, and will continue to make, the situation much, much worse. Withdrawal before now would have meant less Middle-Easterners ticked off at us than there are now... staying only means we continue to raise the ire of even more of them.

So by fighting them there we are not, in any way, preventing them from coming here. In contrast I would say that by staying there we only provide them with ever more incentive to consider attacking us here. And I agree with Dr. Brin that, when all is said and done, it is the here, in the U.S. of A., that we are ultimately talking about. Iraq, IMHO, is little more than a distraction.

Let me add one more thing, even if we all accept that the President really is a fairly unimaginative, unintelligent buffoon that none of us really believes could pull off what could very well be a form of conspiracy of outrageously tremendous proportions, I think we can all agree that the puppet-masters in his circle of advisers may very well have, if not the ability to carry out such a thing, at least the ability to recognize the opportunities that have arisen to allow them to carry out some of the things Dr. Brin has suggested. Who needs to be the one out front, when you can gain all the power in the world while hiding behind the one out front?

I find it very hard to believe that so much could have happened and fallen into place by the actions of a select group, but thinking about it hard I find it not so very difficult to conceive that the same could be accomplished by a select group who happen to notice and take advantage of situations that just fell into their laps. Some of the greatest power grabs in history have happened in just that way, with the "perfect storm" of happenstance that was taken advantage of by a select few.

wilde said...

Gonzales just refused to tell Congress how many US Attorney's have been asked to resign:

Anonymous said...

The safest place to serve in a evil empire is just behind the throne... out of sight of the masses, and close enough to give advice, eh, Don?

While I'm no where near as far left as DonQ, I happen to agree this time... or, to put it another way, we've accomplished everything we said we were in Iraq to do, time to go home and hold a parade, and do it quick before someone cuts more veteran's health benefits to pay for sending more troops out to earn veteran's health benefits.

Anonymous said...

DB: "BET whether or not he could find even ONE political appointee at each of those departments, who has not served as BOTH a close GOP political hack AND a paid consultant for the r oil house."

Do you have a list of such persons, and their backgrounds serving the R'oils?

How many are there? 57? 81?

Anonymous said...

Hawker used the phrase "behind the throne." Every day's news brings another example of the madness of King George W.

Does anyone recall what the French Resistance in World War II did to the locals who collaborated with the Germans? Shaving women's heads may have been the least of it. No one should be surprised about what is happening now in Iraq.

Anonymous said...

If it is that tacitus, I can't say anything better than hilzoy did about his last blog post.

And on the subject of Alberto Gonzales: Specter: Now wait a minute, wait a minute. The Constitution says you can't take it away except in the case of invasion or rebellion. Doesn't that mean you have the right of habeas corpus?

Gonzales: I meant by that comment that the Constitution doesn't say that every individual in the United States or every citizen has or is assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn't say that. It simply says that the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended.

And another link, a probably tongue in cheek editorial about the North seceding and joining up with parts of Canada.

Now, on to some of tacitus's questions. Before I start though, I want to say that my answers to these are all a) hypothetical, and b) irrelevant. They're irrelevant because I'm not making policy. George W. Bush and his gang of thieves are. The Democrats have some say now, since they control the House of Representatives. (The Senate is split 49 Democrats 49 Republicans, 1 independent socialist, and 1 Lieberman for Lieberman) So they have some power, but it's limited, especially with a President who's willing to ignore Congress, the courts, and the laws and treaties of the country. These opinions are therefore just mine.

That said, on to Iraq.

"Departure from Iraq, perhaps inevitable, may well result in massive immigration. Are we going to open the door to them? Who else will? Finally, let those who want us to leave weigh in on this thought. Do you have any reason to doubt that anybody who cooperated in any way with America will be beheaded live on AlJazera? Also anybody found with the wrong Shia/Sunni credentials. Can you doubt that it will be far, far worse than the aftermath of Vietnam, where re education camps were the usual destination. Can you live with this?"

All of these are ALREADY HAPPENING. Even with us there. I doubt the "beheaded live on Al Jazeera" part, though.

And yes, we should open the door to all the Iraqis who want to come here. Because it's OUR FAULT their country has become an anarchic wasteland of civil war. Therefore it's our responsibility to take care of them. The thing is? I know it's not going to happen. The same Republicans who're now talking about how we have to stay there for the Iraqis' sakes would and will scream bloody murder if anybody suggests allowing Iraqis to flee here. After all, they might be terrorists! And even if they're not bigots themselves, many of them have made their careers whipping up bigotry and racism. Mostly towards Arabs and Muslims over the past several years. And that same hatred they've fed is going to keep us from being able to help any of the Iraqis whose lives have been ruined and country destroyed.

And the biggest thing about all these objections to leaving Iraq? None of them are going to be fixed by staying there now, especially not with the people in charge of this war.

Anonymous said...

Brain to body mass ratio is 1:1000 for ostriches, who are "difficult to domesticate or train due to their lack of brain size" (linky).

Similar difficulties might arise during the deprogramming of delusional Republicans. Not that I think it is not a worthwhile undertaking - even if the deprogramming success-to-failure ratio is the same 1:1000. Even if ONE person sees the light, the "adopt an ostrich" program should be deemed a success.

Anonymous said...

I am not "that other" tacitus, but the suggestion I consider another handle is noted.
I believe my first post said that there was no reason to suspect any positive military result from the "surge". Oh, maybe something temporary as has been seen before, but no real difference. My question about whether people could live with the likely, or at least plausible outcomes I mentioned was in the vein of "things to think of before you do something that might go bad". And it appears that the consensus response is, well that's just how it is.
Whether it is now, or next year, or in the upcoming presumably Democratic administration, I think we will be leaving, and that it will be a defeat.
Its happened to better Emperors than Geo. W.
Tacicitus (but not that other guy)

Anonymous said...

The penalty for collaboration has always been the same as that for treason: Death. Sometimes death after a trial, sometimes death by sniper or bomb, and sometimes just a good lynching. (The French women who had thier heads shaved didn't actively collaborate, they merely had German boyfriends.)

Tacticus, this 'war' was 'lost' when it turned out that there was no plan to win the 'peace' after the Iraq army disintergrated. No effort made to secure ammo dumps, no effort made to disarm the army, no effort made to keep order (except for the oh so vital oil ministry), the government at all levels (even down to the beat police officers) unemployed without replacement...

When the Germans conquered the French, they didn't fire the police departments, merely put them under new management... when Germany surrendered to the western allies, German Military Police were allowed to keep thier sidearms so they maintain order on German bases (Bill Mauldin has a wonderful 'Up Front' cartoon with a German MP telling a GI to button his shirt pocket and "look like a proper soldier, dumbkopf!")

So, we've already "lost" Iraq, and now it's a matter of figuring out who's going to get stuck with the blame... the Bush Adminstration that caused it, those who opposed it, or those who'll inherit it in 2009.

Syeda Duaa said...

This is a compelling call to action in these tumultuous times. The idea of adopting an ostrich, someone who clings to denial and refuses to see the stark realities we face, is an interesting strategy. It's a reminder that change often starts at the grassroots level, one person at a time.