Jerry Pournelle liveblogs a Rush flame-out.
I am listening to Rush Limbaugh self-destruct.
No one has asserted a moral equivalence between Israel and Hizbollah (at least no one I know), but he says that any criticism of Israel is now asserting moral equivalence between "pure evil" and Western civilization. All of Rush's sympathy is for Israel; he has no tears to spare for the Lebanese Christians and the non-Hizbollah Moslems who are caught in this war. Now Rush is defending Dresden. If that's what it takes -- When his caller points out that much of Lebanon is hostage to Hizbollah, Limbaugh says 'tough patooties'. "Tell that to the Japanese. Have you ever heard of Dresden?" Etc.
And he calls it gibberish when his caller says that the Israeli response is excessive.
There is no case against Israel. There is no debate. The issue is closed. Either you are a liberal enemy of the United States or you are part of the cheering section for Israel.
I cannot believe I am listening to this. He cannot have more disdain for Hizbollah than I do; but apparently Rush Limbaugh would cheer if we did terror raids on Beirut.
"We have fed the world, Goldie, and they still try to wipe us out!" So it is all right to bomb Beirut. Turn all of Lebanon into ashes. It serves them right.
Fortunately the Israelis are smarter than that.
Niven's Law: there is no cause so noble that it will not attract fanatic fuggheads who will get all the news attention.
I have never been a ditto-head but I have usually found Limbaugh reasonable; but this appears over the top. I hope it's just a bad day.
He is now saying that anyone who doesn't agree with him is a liberal who hates the west.
Rush, a few of us have showed that we have some love for the west and this country, but we can find it in our hearts to have some compassion for the Lebanese caught in this war. Yesterday I concluded that Israel has a just cause; but no one I know asserts that a just cause justifies all means including terror bombing of civilians who are not contributing to the enemy war production (and even that kind of bombing is not universally accepted -- see Rotterdam and Nanking for examples).
Now he is calling his caller a fool. That may be a dangerous practice. Well, Mr. Limbaugh, there are some good strategic arguments against counter-terrorism, and having some sympathy for the Lebanese Christians, and being against terror bombing. Terror bombing is not always an effective means for waging war.
Rush now believes he has won this exchange, and it makes him look good. Apparently whether or not he looks good may be more important than what is happening over there.
I do not myself find it makes him look good to shout and splutter at a man who is concerned for his relatives in Lebanon caught in a war they did not choose. War is Hell.
I return to my analogy of the Crips and Bloods taking hostages of Beverly Hills police: Would BHPD be justified in bombing Bell Gardens?
Perhaps I am over reacting, but I am not alone in believing that Limbaugh has gone far too far this time.
I used to like Limbaugh a lot, despite the caterwauling of his critics he was, for many years an insightful and thought provoking host. This bit of stupidity however, is not atypical of his show over the last 2 years...It is sad and worrisome.
Though the caller was not Dr. Pournelle (but a distraught person full of genuine concern for the safety of his family in Lebanon) the response Limbaugh gave is indicative of how the doctor would be treated, and indeed has been treated by some of the current movers and shakers in the grand old party.
I disagree from time to time with Dr. Pournelle on a few issues, including the idea that Israel is currently acting disproportionately. I disagree because of the nature of Israel's enemies.
Note that although I part ways on this, I think Dr. Pournelles reasoning is logical and as I've said in previous posts , the idea that the Lebanese appreciate being bombed for the murderous squatters in their midst is addled. Rush's apparant advocacy of terror bombing is just horrid, simplistic stupidity.
Dr. Pournelle is a principled, literate and wise individual who has a keen sense of history and one should not dismiss his concerns. He is a credit to the nation and a genuine hero who fought against totalitarianism on a cold and hopeless hillside in Korea. A man that was an artillery officer in the US Army and has 2 PHDs has some measure of competence.
So What is my point?
Suprise: it has nothing to do with the Israeli-Hezbollah war.
I note Pournelle is a Conservative. A REAL conservative, in the mold of Buckley, Goldwater and Reagan. Pournelle has a big advantage on both Limbaugh and myself in that he can actually remember the old republic, he saw Washington DC as a small town in the woods, and he worked in the government on a myriad of defense-related scientific endeavors. Yet this fellow who worked for Goldwater and Reagan has had an attempt made to read him out of the conservative movement as related here.
This two-dimensional single-issue inquisition is the sort of thing we are used to seeing on the left. For example, the Kossacks have declared Lieberman to be a conservative (!) and too far to the right for the Democratic Party, but he is not in any way shape or form a conservative, he disagrees with the left on exactly ONE issue (that they are willing to talk about in mixed company).
This has been part and parcel of some on the left for several years, but to see it on the right is frightening. I strongly suspect that this has a lot to do with the New Dealers being written out of the Democratic Party in the 70s. I was but a tyke then, however the similarities to what is happening to Lieberman now seem great.
Those that "had their party leave them" were embraced by the Republicans not just for demographic/ electoral reasons but also because they actually did have a point or two.
Many of the Democrats who felt the "Party had left them" were people who had a lot in common with William Jennings Bryan , they were old school progressives, but were concerned about the growing, vitriolic hostility that the McGovernite/Mondaleoid wing of the Dems had (and still have)towards their faith (and er..getting evolution out of the schools...but I digress). Given that one of the founding principals of the republic is that people should be able to worship as they please, the idea that these people had some common cause with limited government republicans was not irrational.
There was an even more pressing reason.
Many if not most of hose that had been taken over the Democratic party and run them out were feckless appeasement monkeys....at best.
It is rather glossed over now, but we were, when this faustian deal was made, locked in a conflict with a nation that defined peace as an absence of opposition to world communism, had thousands of nuclear warheads pointed at us and had by the 1970s already killed over 60 million of its own citizens and occupied half of Europe.
Both Democratic and Republican Presidents had stood up to this trancendental threat, but by the '70s the McGovern wing of the Democratic party had begun to take over.
Their first real success was Viet-Nam.
TWICE, first at Tet and later during the Paris Accords we were on the cusp of victory in Viet Nam. Both times the far left succeeded in pulling political sleaze that knocked us back down the hill, in the latter case resulting in the abandonment of SE Asia to "socialist utopia".
The Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian democides resulted, accounting for over 2 and a quarter MILLION deaths in the four years after the fall of Saigon.
To this day, it seems, that they "made a difference" in that matter is the proudest accomplishment of the American left.
Given the more than a hundred thirty MILLION deaths that took place under communism (not counting wars, just death camps) not liking commies seemed (and still seems) to be a pretty ethical and pragmatic position.
The Kennedy, Truman and "Scoop" democrats appalled at this and other such displays joined the Republicans and the Cold War was ultimately won. The William Jennings Bryan types joined too and helped...a little.
This a point that demagogues like Coulter and an increasingly large swath of "right wing" punditry miss or ignore...The Dems were NOT always the Kos types we see today who are turning on their own like Lieberman for straying from the far left playbook.
Once there were Democrats who would 'pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure he success of liberty'....but today we call those people neo-cons.
The neo-cons still have the expansive view of "government as good" that belies their origins in the jackass party. Their main conservative cred comes from their social policies, but unlike actual US conservatives, they are unwilling to rely on local governments or the bully pulpit to police these things (as witnessed by the continued resurgence of the silliness that is the flag-burning amendment).
Their foreign policy is often right out of Wittless Wilsons playbook, though that they don't share his bigotry is reflected in the admirable confidence that the President has in the ability of third world citizens of all hues to govern themselves well, if only they are freed of totalitarianism.
This later is their best point and it is a hold-over of the lessons of cold war and the '30s.
There is even a non-neo conservative rationale for this Wilsonian view. The mideast suffered catastrophically from the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire post World War 1. The meddling, so supported by Wilson to make the world "safe for democracies" (but not, it seems, republics)has messed things up beyond measure.
Given that, thanks to Wilsonianism, colonialism and leftism, we now have a huge mass of failed states, soon-to be failed states and a technology level that is making horrid weaponary more attainable by todays equivalent of the Thugees, I personally believe that a strong case can be made for preemption, as well as trying to help up these states. I happen to agree with the POTUS on this point and think that given the considerable baggage that "the west" has in the Levant and Mesopotamia, using Wilsonian fire to put out the fires that he and Gladstone set is ethically, and strategically the right course.
Many disagree with me on this, Dr. Pournelle is among them. It is not however, in any way, UNCONSERVATIVE to express misgivings about a policy that has terribly imperial overtones.
American conservatives, are inherently anti-imperial and occupying armies on station for years playing politics in foreign lands is the stuff of empire, even if done for noble and non-imperial reasons.
This is one reason that myrmidons like Hannity and Limbaugh disturb me. These annointed spokespersons for the conservative movement don't seem to know what a conservative in America is.
For one thing we have a conservative interpretation of the constitution....which I wish these people would READ.
Expressing misgivings about foreign wars and pointing out the perils of having the army do jobs other than win battles is inherently conservative. It does not mean the conclusion is forgone on action, but there should always be discussion on this.
Of course a party or a movement has to stand for something, and there are certainly things that could conceivably get one to not be taken seriously as a conservative.
I man EXPANDING centralized control over education, adding a new Ponzi-scheme entitlement, creating a new federal bureaucracy to .....manage other federal bureaucracies ....forming the tweezer police....
All of these things would seem to be pretty firmly unconservative so...
Bush has done all those things...
But he's a right wing conservative extremist right?
The conservatives conservative doesn't think so!
I actually like Bush, and believe his heart is in a good place.
I happen to disagree with him 50-60% of the time, particularly about the above mentioned issues.....and stem cells....and his utter lack of respect for , and seeming hostility to Federalism.
Of course, I like Truman as a president too, but no one calls Truman a conservative.
Bush is much more like Truman or Kennedy than Goldwater or Buckley.
Frighteningly enough, in today's political climate Bush is likely pretty close to being moderate.
That he is considered far right is worrying for the future of the nation.
Leftism has historically led to very bad places. The intellectual basis for modern leftism did not spring forth from Marx and Engles, they only refined the ideas of the French revolution....which is not a noble chapter in human history.
American Conservatism is unlike conservatism in most of the world, it grew out of the English Enlightenment via the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers and the Constitution.
But nobody seems to remember that now.... I saw comment on a blog recently that I wish I could track down. "No one will mourn the Republic if no one remembers what it was".
If Bush is considered a baseline, or far right conservative, and Lieberman is too right wing for the democrats, then we are soon going to have to choose between William Jennings Bryan and Robespierre.....
So, Mr. Bezos....How's the rocket coming?
UPDATE: Dr. Pournelle, ever the class act, E-mailed to correct the persistant rumor that he recieved a field commission. He was commissioned normaly. He mentions that he has tried to correct this for some time. In this age of Micah Wrights and other thieves of valor, it is reassuring to see men of honor and class. I have corrected the text to reflect the facts. Thank you Dr. Pournelle.
Update2: added some links and corrected some syntax errors.