Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Nattering Nabobs of Negativity

Michael Barone gets good wood on the ball in this essay on the effect that the constant negativism churned out by the Democrats and their various mouthpieces is having on voter attitudes:

"This is just to cover Bush's (rear) so he doesn't have to answer questions" about things in Iraq, said Rep. Pete Stark, second ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee. "This insurgency is such a confused mess that one person, dead or alive at this point, is hardly significant today," said Rep. Jim McDermott, formerly the lead Democrat on the House ethics committee. The deceased, said Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a candidate for the 2004 presidential nomination, was a small part of "a growing anti-American insurgency." He said the United States should get out of Iraq. "We're there for all the wrong reasons." Such was the reaction of the left wing of the Democratic Party to the killing of al-Qaida terrorist Abu Masab Zarqawi in Iraq. It was not the dominant note sounded by Democrats. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and 2004 presidential nominee John Kerry all hailed the death of Zarqawi in unequivocal terms. And if Democrats also made the point that his death probably won't end the violence in Iraq, they were only echoing what George W. Bush said.

Nevertheless the Stark-McDermott-Kucinich reaction, echoed and amplified, often scatologically, by dozens of commenters on the popular dailykos.com and myDD.com left-wing Websites, tells us something disturbing about the Democratic Party -- and provides a clue why Democrats were unable to eke out a win in last week's special congressional election in the 50th congressional district of California.

It comes down to this: A substantial part of the Democratic Party, some of its politicians and many of its loudest supporters do not want America to succeed in Iraq. So vitriolic and all-consuming is their hatred for George W. Bush that they skip right over the worthy goals we have been, with some considerable success, seeking there -- a democratic government, with guaranteed liberties for all, a vibrant free economy, respect for women -- and call this a war for oil, or for Halliburton. (emphasis mine)

Successes are discounted, setbacks are trumpeted, the level of American casualties is treated as if it were comparable to those in Vietnam or World War II. Allegations of American misdeeds are repeated over and over; the work of reconstruction and aid of American military personnel and civilians is ignored.

In all this they have been aided and abetted by large elements of the press. The struggle in Iraq has been portrayed as a story of endless and increasing violence. Stories of success and heroism tend to go unreported. Reporters in Iraq deserve respect for their courage -- this has been an unusually deadly war for journalists, largely because they have been targeted by the terrorists. But unfortunately they and the Bush administration have not done a good job of letting us know that last pertinent fact.

We are in an asymmetrical struggle with vicious enemies who slaughter civilians and bystanders and journalists without any regard for the laws of war. But too often we and our enemies are portrayed as moral equivalents. One or two instances of American misconduct are found equal in the balance to a consistent and premeditated campaign of barbarism.

All of this does not go unnoticed by America's voters. The persistence of violence in Iraq has done grave damage to George W. Bush's job rating, and polls show that his fellow Republicans are in trouble. Yet when people actually vote, those numbers don't seem to translate into gains for the Democrats. In 2004, John Kerry got 44 percent of the votes in the 50th district of California. In the April 2006 special primary, Democrat Francine Busby got 44 percent of the votes there. In the runoff last week, she got 45 percent and lost to Republican Brian Bilbray.

The angry Democratic left set the tone for the 2003-04 campaign for the party's presidential nomination, and John Kerry hoped that it would produce a surge in turnout in November 2004. It did: Kerry got 16 percent more popular votes than Al Gore. But George W. Bush got 23 percent more popular votes in 2004 than in 2000.

In California's 50th, both parties made mammoth turnout efforts, but the balance of turnout and of opinion seems to have remained the same, even though Democrats had a seriously contested primary for governor and Republicans didn't. The angry Democratic left and its aiders and abettors in the press seem to have succeeded in souring public opinion, but they haven't succeeded in producing victory margins for the Democrats. Maybe they're doing just the opposite.

Spiro Agnew famously referred to the press once upon a time as "nattering nabobs of negativity," and his felicitous formulation might well be extended to cover almost the entire liberal/left of the contemporary political spectrum.

For six years George Bush has been absorbing the most furious and vicious attacks on his competence and character that any president has had to endure since Abraham Lincoln. The constant drumbeat of derision has depressed his approval ratings among a public which hasn't any real idea of how well he's doing but which assumes that his performance must be pretty bad since everybody is saying so. Evidence that the public doesn't really know how Bush is doing can be found in polls that ask about the health of the economy. The majority of respondents say that they think the economy is doing poorly when in fact it's as healthy as it's been in decades.

Through all the punishment he has taken and all the unjust, unfair criticism the media and his opponents have fired at him, Bush has remained steadfast and determined to do what he thinks is right. For this he has our admiration and respect, even if we do wish he was tougher on illegal immigration and government spending.

Lefty Logic

Here's a good example of asserting one's conclusion and then basing the conclusion on the assertion (i.e. begging the question):

The U.S. does not approve of torture, claims President Bush. Does anyone have any doubt that Ziad Khalaf Raja al-Karbouly, the Iraqi customs inspector who turned on Zaqarwi after being arrested and held for months by the Jordanian police, talked as a result of being subjected to torture?

"Officials say Karbouly confessed to his role in the terror cell and provided crucial information on the names of Zarqawi commanders and locations of their safe houses."

So now we use information gained from torture to murder our target. What makes us different from them?

Let's walk through this: No one on the paranoid left doubts that we use torture, therefore Karbouly was tortured. Pretty convincing, wouldn't you say?

For good measure we're treated to an example of undistributed middle as well: The killing of Zarqawi is "murder". Terrorists also murder. Therefore we're no different than terrorists.

This is the sort of thinking that fills the left-wing blog sites and upon which people will be basing their votes in November. Lord, give us patience.


This is a must read column by Melanie Phillips at The Times Online. It contains numerous salutary lessons for us here on this side of the pond:

According to remarks attributed in the past few days to security sources, no fewer than 1,200 Islamist terrorists are biding their time within British suburbs. Yet does Britain even now fully understand the nature of the threat it is facing, let alone have the will to deal with it?

The recent report by the Commons Intelligence Committee on last July's London bombings barely scratched the surface of the failure by the security establishment. It failed to note, for example, Britain's dirty little secret: that from the 1990s, Islamist radicals had been given free rein in Britain in a "gentlemen's agreement" that if they were left alone, they would not turn on the country that was so generously nurturing them. The result was "Londonistan", as Britain became the hub of al-Qaeda in Europe.

This intelligence debacle, however, was only the tip of the iceberg. Among Britain's governing class - its intelligentsia, its media, its politicians, its judiciary, its Church and even its police - a broader and deeper cultural pathology persists to this day. Londonistan is more than the physical presence of Islamist extremists. It is also a state of mind. To a dismaying extent, the British have signed up to the false narrative of those who are laying siege to their society.

The problem lies in a refusal to acknowledge that Islamist extremism is rooted in religion. Instead, ministers and security officials prefer to think of it as a protest movement against grievances such as Iraq or Palestine, or "Islamophobia". They simply ignore the statements and signs that show unequivocally that the aim is to Islamicise the West.

In large measure, this is the outcome of a profound loss of cultural nerve. The doctrines of multiculturalism and minority rights, themselves the outcome of a systematic onslaught by the British elite against the country's own identity and values, have paralysed the establishment, which accordingly shies away from criticising any minority for fear of being labelled as bigoted.

As a result, it ignored the radicalisation of many British Muslims by extremist Islamic institutions. Worse still, "grievance culture" has meant that instead of fighting the paranoia and lies driving the Islamists' hatred of the West, British society is afflicted by the very same pathology.

Minority rights doctrine has produced a moral inversion, in which those doing wrong are excused if they belong to a "victim" group, while those at the receiving end of their behaviour are blamed simply because they belong to the "oppressive" majority.

Britain effectively allowed itself to be taken hostage by militant gays, feminists or "anti-racists" who used weapons such as public vilification, moral blackmail and threats to people's livelihoods to force the majority to give in to their demands. So when radical Islamists refused to accept minority status and insisted instead that their values must trump those of the majority, Britain had no answer.

This was disastrous because Islamist violence is fuelled by precisely this false sense of victimisation. The mendacious message preached by Islamist leaders, that Britain and America are engaged in a war on Islam rather than a defence of their societies, is a potent incitement to terror by whipping up a hysteria that Muslims are under attack.

So any attempt by the West to defend itself against terror becomes a recruiting sergeant for that terror. The more atrocities committed against the West, the more the West tries to defend itself; and the more it does so, the more hysteria among Muslims rises that they are under attack, and the more they are thus incited to hatred and to terrorism.

The circle is completed by British fellow-travellers who promulgate the same morally inverted thinking, and thus help further to incite both Muslim extremism and Western defeatism. After the London bombings, this gave rise to the widely expressed view that the major problem was not Islamic terrorism but Islamophobia.

It is impossible to overstate the importance - not just to Britain but to the global struggle against Islamist extremism - of properly understanding and publicly challenging this moral, intellectual and philosophical inversion, which translates aggressor into victim and vice versa. For it has destabilised debate by allowing Muslims to argue that British and American foreign policy is unfair and aggressive towards the Muslim world.

So profound is the fear of being branded a bigot among British liberals that the obvious examples of illogicality, untruths and paranoia in such discourse have never been challenged.

The British Establishment also ignores this because it is in a state of denial. With few exceptions politicians, Whitehall officials, senior police and intelligence officers and academic experts have failed to grasp that the problem to be confronted is not just the assembly of bombs and poison factories but what is going on inside people's heads that drives them to such acts.

Transfixed instead by the artificial division it has erected between those who actively espouse violence and those who do not, the British Establishment rejects the idea that the hatred of Jews, Israel, America and the West that suffuses the utterances of the Muslim Brotherhood forms an ideological conveyor belt to terrorism. The result of this institutionalised denial has been that the Government has settled upon a disastrously misguided strategy. Believing that Islamist terrorism is merely about grievances, it thinks it can appease Islamist rage by pandering to extremism and inviting Muslim Brotherhood radicals into the heart of the British Establishment as advisers.

In Britain, hundreds of thousands of Muslims lead law-abiding lives and merely want to prosper and raise their families in peace. But truly moderate Muslims are finding that, through such appeasement, the host community is cutting the ground from under their feet and delivering them into the hands of the extremists. This is a deliberate policy of riding the Islamist tiger. But those who ride a tiger may get eaten.

As Phillips' essay suggests, the West simply does not understand what is driving the Islamists. We think that if we can just work out a solution to the Palestinian problem they'll be mollified, or if we can meliorate Arab poverty they'll be grateful to us. What Western liberals don't understand is that the only thing that is going to satisfy the Islamists is that we either convert to Islam or, one way or another, we disappear. They are at war with our civilization and it is a war to be fought, in their minds, until either they prevail or they're all dead. The sooner we awake to this grim reality the better chance our children have of not having a knife cutting at their throats.