Eye of Newt; Toe of Frog

Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the House. November ...

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Exactly 16 years ago, Newt Gingrich released his “Contract With America.” It made an instant connection with voters, and six weeks later the Republicans swept to a 54-seat pickup in the House and majority status. The contract contained these provisions:

On the first day of their majority in the House, the Republicans promised to pass eight major reforms:

  1. Require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply to Congress;
  2. Select a major, independent auditing firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of Congress for waste, fraud or abuse;
  3. Cut the number of House committees, and cut committee staff by one-third;
  4. Limit the terms of all committee chairs;
  5. Ban the casting of proxy votes in committee;
  6. Require committee meetings to be open to the public;
  7. Require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a tax increase;
  8. Guarantee an honest accounting of the Federal Budget by implementing zero base-line budgeting.
How things have changed in just a decade and a half! Within the past month that very same Newt Gingrich has:
  1. Compared the Muslims building their community center in Manhattan to Nazis at Auschwitz
  2. Claimed that President Obama is  an “outsider” channeling his  father’s “Kenyan anti-colonialism”
  3. Trumpeted the need for a federal law to ban the institution of Sharia law in America
Like him or not, Gingrich has generally been recognized as the “idea guy” within the Republican party, one of their few deep thinkers and serious  policy wonks. So does Newt really believe this kind of stuff  is what a politician needs to say in order to win votes from today’s GOP?
If so, it makes one wonder what their new “Contract” will look like when it is released on Thursday.
No, it’s not about Christine O’Donnell whipping up a little treat for her friends. It’s about the cry now echoing across the land… “Holy crap, what’s up with Newt?”

About filistro

Filistro is a Canadian writer and prairie dog who maintains burrows on both sides of the 49th parallel. Like all prairie dogs, she is keenly interested in politics and language. (Prairie dogs have been known to build organized towns the size of Maryland, and are the only furry mammal with a documented language.)
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41 Responses to Eye of Newt; Toe of Frog

  1. filistro says:

    I should add, of course, there were many other provisions in the “Contract With America” that were intended to be phased in more gradually than the ones I’ve listed. But all of them were relatively sober, thoughtful proposals related to fiscal and legislative policy.As I said… how drastically Newt and the GOP have changed since then!

  2. filistro says:

    LOL… I wrote the above blog post about 5 or 6 hours ago, but it appears that darn Bill Maher has been channeling ME again. I just heard him discussing Newt on Hardball, and he said pretty much what I did (though he was, of course, much more politically incorrect…:-)Maher… “This guy’s their THINKER? Their reader and intellectual? Well, I guess in a land of midgets, a pygmy casts a tall shadow…”

  3. Realist says:

    Wow. I look at that list of 8 promises, and I’m amazed at how few were enacted.Their promise, though, was to bring them to the floor to vote on them, not to pass them or get them enacted. The more cynical of us (which would include me) would suggest that not even promising that they’d pass the House made them intellectually dishonest.

  4. Jeff says:

    @filistro:You say about Gingrich that he:1.) Compared the Muslims building their community center in Manhattan to Nazis at Auschwitz2.) Claimed that President Obama is an “outsider” channeling his father’s “Kenyan anti-colonialism”3.) Trumpeted the need for a federal law to ban the institution of Sharia law in America.=====Concerning #1: I believe his analogy was to a proposed (Christian) convent near Auschwitz. He pointed out that the nuns — like the Moslems in NYC — had a legal right to do so, but that when it was deemed insensitive by Holocaust survivors, etc., that the plans were abandoned. If you have a citation to the contrary, I’d like to see it — one can never stop learning.Concerning #2: I believe he was talking about a Dinesh D’Souza essay that was very provocative. I’ve never been a great fan of armchair psychological analysis, but it was a very interesting essay. Certainly no worse than the repeated trope that “Bush invaded Iraq because his daddy failed….” I’m willing to condemn both — or accept both, as long as we agree that if it’s sauce for the goose, it’s also sauce for the gander. Concerning #3. Sharia is a body of religious law that extends into everyday life. Passing a law against the establishment of Sharia is basically pointless (we do have a Constitution that forbids establishing any religion). He may have been reacting to a recent comment by the Archbishop of Canterbury that the English should reconcile themselves to allowing Sharia to “co-exist” with English laws.Again, this would be a totally symbolic gesture, but then, it’s politics….=============Mind you, please note that I am not agreeing with any of the three points. I am asking for clarification of the first, and commenting on the possible reasons for the other two. Of course, this won’t deflect another tangential rant from Shiloh, but that will just be par for the course.

  5. filistro says:

    Realist wrote:Wow. I look at that list of 8 promises, and I’m amazed at how few were enacted…What strikes me is not only that the GOP made these proposals, but the voting public actually cared about and embraced them.Maybe I’m overly cynical but it seems to me the political discourse has been so dumbed down and over-heated in recent years, nobody would even sit still for this kind of thoughtful policy discussion. They want to hear Newt rant about “the threat of Sharia law in America.”(Ooops, I just threw up a little bit in my mouth when I wrote that…)Somebody please tell me I’m wrong. Tell me voters still care about real, actual stuff that matters to the country. Tell me Newt’s nuts.

  6. Realist says:

    @filistroYou’re wrong. Voters still care about real, actual stuff that matters to the country. Newt’s nuts.I wish I could believe what I just wrote.

  7. Bart DePalma says:

    Newt is running for President and trying to find some campaign themes to differentiate himself from the growing crowd of GOP hopefuls chomping at the bit to get at Obama and appeal to the Tea Party. Maybe Newt might want to actualy attend some meetings and listen rather than pontificate.

  8. shiloh says:

    @RealistTheir promise, though, was to bring them to the floor to vote on them, not to pass them or get them enacted.~~~~~~~~~~Again, Reps are all hat and no cattle in their never ending quest to find the next boogeyman to exploit!ailes/safire/atwater/turdblossom presidential politics 101They know all too well voters are fickle, easily scared, and have the attention span of a peanut!>btw, the term limit Rep fraud er meme was especially amusing …

  9. filistro says:

    Jeff, I’m not going to waste bandwidth explaining to you how Newt’s analogies are offensive, or how there is NO moral equivelance between suggestions of Bush avenging Daddy and Obama “channeling” Barack senior… or how divisive and dangerous it truly is to be frightening ignorant Americans over “Sharia law.”I suspect you’re just being mischievous, anyhow… :-)AS far as shiloh, I do think he’s being a bit unfair to you. I think he’s still confusing you with someone else… we had several “Jeffs” at the old site, and some of them were pretty hard to take. You, on the other hand, strike me as being fair, honest, smart and even reasonable. Well… reasonable for a rightie… ;-)Shiloh is an adorable leprechaun and a true scholar. He is.. and long has been… the heart and soul of this site, and without him we’d be a poorer bunch, indeed. So you’ll just have to get used to him and learn to love him…

  10. texasdem says:

    Completely off-topic: Thanks so much for setting up this site. I’ve been reading 538 forever, and at the NYT, it’s really lost something on the back-and-forth. At any rate, is there some way that I can change the background/text colors on my own screen? It’s really hard for my old eyes to read.

  11. shiloh says:

    Fili, the Jeff issue has been resolved as the current Jeff poster is actually Jeffrey at Nate’s old blog.As already mentioned it will be difficult to decipher who’s who lol if they are posting in the same thread at the same time, but to be sure, they are both of the same ilk ;)And it’s always wise to not waste bandwidth re: an irrational Gingrich apologist!Just sayin’>Indeed, Jeffrey has no use for me 😉 but no biggie as life goes on …

  12. filistro says:

    shiloh… speaking of “ilks”… after long and exhaustive research, I was finally able to find an actual photograph of Bart’s ilk! Cute little sucker, eh?

  13. shrinkers says:

    Actually, Newt’s Contract on America did not merely promise “to bring them to the floor to vote on them, not to pass them or get them enacted.” The actual text reads:On the first day of the 104th Congress, the new Republican majority will immediately pass the following major reforms, aimed at restoring the faith and trust of the American people in their government:See here http://www.nationalcenter.org/ContractwithAmerica.htmlThere were other provisions in the Contract as well (which were promised only to be brought to the floor : “Thereafter, within the first 100 days of the 104th Congress, we shall bring to the House Floor the following bills, each to be given full and open debate, each to be given a clear and fair vote and each to be immediately available this day for public inspection and scrutiny.”)My favorite of these was “The Citizen Legislature Act” which was supposed to limit terms of Senators and Representatives to a total of 12 years (2 terms for Senators, 6 for Reps). It was resounding defeated — by the very people who had signed the “contract” before the election.It was a cynical piece of campaign propaganda. I expect Episode 2 to be no different — but with MORE COWBELL!

  14. Realist says:

    @shrinkersWow…worse than I had remembered. But hey, the second verse is bound to be better than the first, right?

  15. shrinkers says:

    Here is one of the most Draconian provisions of the Contract On America:THE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY ACTDiscourage illegitimacy and teen pregnancy by prohibiting welfare to minor mothers and denying increased AFDC for additional children while on welfare, cut spending for welfare programs, and enact a tough two-years-and-out provision with work requirements to promote individual responsibility.Let’s see how many of America’s [black] children we can throw into poverty. (Does anyone wonder who the recipients of “welfare” in this proposal were envisioned as being?)

  16. shiloh says:

    Actually fili, my image of Bart is more of a pussycat as he is all bark and no bite, like most political posters on the net.Equate it to how peeps personalities change when they get behind the wheel of their cars as the same thing occurs when obsessed wingers like Bart start discussing politics on the net ie all out war! 😉 As again, a teabagger like Bart doesn’t want to govern, but to conquer and rule.Passive/aggressiveness er disingenuous sarcasm takes over in many political discussions especially when you are a sore loser Rep in the minority! used to having mostly Rep presidents in your lifetime.The yin and yang of winners and losers!Indeed, Bart’s a poodle! 🙂 totally harmless, just like Charles, Mule Rider, PK, Jeff, Jeffrey etc.

  17. filistro says:

    @shrinkers.. I expect Episode 2 to be no different — but with MORE COWBELL! I think there will be a number of socially conservative clauses in the new contract to reflect the leanings of the Tea Party. As far as I have been able to determine (somebody correct me if I’m wrong) there were none in 1994 unless you count an initiative to reduce teen pregnancy and illegitimacy, and I wouldn’t consider that “socially conservative”… just sensible.

  18. filistro says:

    shiloh… that’s not a picture of Bart! Bart is actually quite cute (in a rugged, right-wing, Me-Tarzan You-Jane kind of way…. :-)That’s just Bart’s pet ilk. I’ll bet it’s a real babe magnet when he takes it out for walkies.

  19. Mr. Universe says:

    I spent some time last night looking for new backgrounds and colours but couldn’t find anything I liked or get it to work when I did. I’ll try again later tonight.Mr. U

  20. shiloh says:

    Fili, whatever lol as I’m sure Bart is enjoying all the attention 😉 as he is the teabagger energizer bunny!

  21. filistro says:

    Jeez, I’m trying hard to get away from here for a while before I become terminally addicted, but I just have to pause for am moment and point out that shrinkers and I have finally disagreed on something. It’s a first! I LIKED the Contract’s “initiative to end teen pregnancy and illegitimacy.” I think Clinton’s accompanying welfare reforms actually helped to reduce the bloated welfare rolls and did a big service for the country.

  22. Mr. Universe says:

    @TexasdemI spent some time last night looking for new backgrounds and colours but couldn’t find anything I liked or get it to work when I did. I’ll try again later tonight.Mr. U

  23. Realist says:

    Welfare reform may or may not have had much impact. It’s kind of like unemployment insurance. When jobs are plentiful, as they were in the mid- to late-90s, welfare rolls (and unemployment insurance claims) drop.It’s fine to have employment requirements attached to welfare…as long as there are jobs out there. You want to kick people off now because they haven’t gotten jobs? In this economy?

  24. shrinkers says:

    filistro –If we agreed on everything, people would think we were the same person. Except you have to be a lot prettier.Besides, ask any Japanese artist — it is the imperfection that makes the work perfect.

  25. Monotreme says:

    There’s a crack in everything. That’s where the light comes in.http://vimeo.com/6591817

  26. Meredith says:

    @Bart Newt is running for President and trying to find some campaign themes to differentiate himself from the growing crowd of GOP hopefuls chomping at the bit to get at Obama and appeal to the Tea Party. Maybe Newt might want to actualy attend some meetings and listen rather than pontificate.I’m having trouble parsing this. Are you saying that he’s trying to differentiate himself from Tea Partiers or that he’s trying to appeal to them? These comments sure sound like he’s trying to appeal to them.

  27. Jeff says:

    @filistro:First, thanks for the kind words… even an irredeemable rightie appreciates them. And Shiloh doesn’t bother me… He’s welcome to his views, and I’ll cheerfully engage him in discussion, but when he crosses the line from debate to childish flame attacks, I’ll (semi)politely let him know. =========Now, concerning your reply. Yes, I can tell you’re offended by Newt comparing building a convent near a death camp to building a mosque near Ground Zero. However, your original post said that Newt compared the GZ mosque to Auschwitz. I don’t think that is factually correct. That would be effectively accusing the Iman of planning mass murder and genocide in Lower Manhattan.I believe he compared the mosque to a proposed convent NEAR Auschwitz. Comparing the builders of the mosque to nuns is not quite the same thing as comparing them to death camp guards. If I am wrong in what I believe he actually said, I would like to know. Otherwise, the record needed to be set straight. It’s one thing to look at what people say and do and conclude you don’t like it — it’s another thing to criticize somebody for something they DIDN’T say. You also say “there is NO moral equivelance between suggestions of Bush avenging Daddy and Obama “channeling” Barack senior…”Why? I’m genuinely curious (and not being mischievous). If there is any point to speculating about the deep, dark, inner motivations for Dubya, then I fail to see why it isn’t equally appropriate to speculate about Obama’s deep, dark, inner motivations. Personally, I’m not sure whether armchair psychoanalysis of somebody you’ve never met is an exercise in absurdity, mental masturbation, or a dehumanizing insult. Yes, it can feel good to read something that explains why a public figure you dislike is the way (s)he is. (hmmm, feels good? Perhaps it is mental masturbation.)But to me there is total “moral equivalence.” Why would it be appropriate to speculate about Dubya being motivated by a Daddy thing, but not appropriate to speculate about Barack being motivated by a Daddy thing?I fail to see the difference.

  28. filistro says:

    @Jeff… If there is any point to speculating about the deep, dark, inner motivations for Dubya, then I fail to see why it isn’t equally appropriate to speculate about Obama’s deep, dark, inner motivations. I think the lack of moral equivelance lies in the reasons for the “speculation.” Questioning Dubya’s motivation for going into Iraq was simply curiosity. Why DID he do it? Nobody really knew. It was such a bizarre, off-the-wall, purposeless decision that everybody wondered about it and tried to piece together the reason. That’s just human nature, to ask “why?” and then say.. “Well, maybe because…” It wasn’t animosity, it was just curiosity.Discussing Obama’s “outsiderness” and his “channeling” of his “anti-colonial Kenyan father” is not a genuine attempt to EXPLAIN anything. It’s a smear, pure and simple. It’s a transparent effort to appeal to the worst in the xenophobic strata of voters by making Obama seem foreign exotic, un-American. It’s DESPICABLE.

  29. shiloh says:

    It is interesting Bush43 became governor of TX and appointed president almost 100% because of daddy’s name and daddy’s political machine. And Bush43’s (3) failed business attempts were funded by Saudi oil investors friendly to daddy and the further irony of the 2000 election being decided in FL where Jeb Bush was governor.Perfect example of the Peter Principle! in action.>Whereas Obama was elected president despite who his father was, and family name, his father having left him at an early age. Obama being a rags to riches story much like Bill Clinton.>Indeed, the dichotomy couldn’t be more striking as Barack Hussein Obama became president in a country that has/had a proclivity to elect president’s w/waspish names like McKinley, Roosevelt, Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, Truman, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton. And a 300/400 history of racial oppression re: it’s African/American “citizens”.>Comparing Bush43 and Obama on just about every level one can think of is an exercise in absurdity! Obama being the first African/American president in America’s history …and Bush43’s granddaddy was Senator Prescott Bush.>Almost unbelievable Obama received (69 million) votes in 2008 America, but, but, but after (8) years of cheney/bush all things were possible, eh.>And the ultimate irony re: religion as Carter was the last true Christian as far as attending church regularly and he was a below-average president whereas Reagan/Bush41/Bush43 were not religious at all, did not attend church and yet the evangelical lemmings flocked to them as though they were all the second coming lol.Political hypocrisy nowadays goes wayyy beyond irony and satire as a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest …

  30. filistro says:

    Meredith… just wanted to comment that your question for Bart in this thread is an excellent one.Unfortunately, while Bart always has a LOT to say, he also has a regrettable tendency to ignore difficult questions.We’ve all sort of gotten used to it, but it’s still frustrating…

  31. Jeff says:

    @filistro:”Questioning Dubya’s motivation for going into Iraq was simply curiosity. Why DID he do it? It was such a bizarre, off-the-wall, purposeless decision.” “Discussing Obama’s “outsiderness” and his “channeling” of his “anti-colonial Kenyan father” is not a genuine attempt to EXPLAIN anything.” =======I think it all depends on where you stand. There were plenty of rational reasons — at the time — for Iraq. STRATFOR did several pieces on the geopolitical rationale. As for WMD — no, they weren’t there, even through everybody THOUGHT they were. For example, Al Gore, as VP, repeated stated that Saddam had WMD as a known fact. The French, the Brits, and apparently, even Saddam, thought Iraq had WMD. Looking back with hindsight, it’s easy to say Iraq was an error made on the basis of bad information, and that the execution was botched. However, I cannot agree that there was was no conceivable rational reason. (Memo to Shiloh et. al — please don’t take this as a re-opener of the Iraq argument… We know each other’s position and there’s no point in beating the dead horse).=======As for the Obama piece, D’Souza also focused on actions that he found inexplicable, and originated his psychological theory. I’m curious whether you’ve read it, or are just operating on what others have said about it.Frankly, I don’t particularly like trying to crawl inside of somebody’s skull to figure out motivations. It’s nothing more than unprovable guesswork or, as I previously stated, mental masturbation. Left and right have very different world-views. I’m honestly perplexed by some of Obama’s actions because I think they’ve been counterproductive — and I thought he was a much, much better politician. By and large, I assume that you understand and support those same actions. And the same applies to Bush (in reverse, of course).To me, the D’Souza piece made perfect, logical sense within the confines of its own logic. But if you study logic, you soon learn that conclusions are dependent on assumptions, and that when your assumptions are unprovable, so are your conclusions.I’m gathering that you feel similarly about the Bush/Daddy theory — that some of his actions are so inexplicable — to you — that they cry out for a creative explanation.In other words, I do think the two are morally equivalent. That being said, I also appreciate your explanation. I think you’re a rational, reasonable person (which makes me astonished that you’re to the left), and reasonably openminded (as demonstrated by your comments on the welfare reform component on the Contract with America).Until now I had believed that the Bush/Daddy trope was based on nothing more than blind hatred and the desire to be offensive. I now see it also can be based on a radically different worldview that makes understanding “the other guy” very difficult.Thanks — I’ve learned something.

  32. Jeff says:

    Insomnia leads me to make one final comment about trying to understand “the other guy’s” motivation. I was once asked in a middle school history class “why study history?”I answered by telling the story about the Duke of Alba, who commanded the Spanish forces in the 16th century Dutch rebellion. Alba’s troops captured a rebellious city, and he gave orders to kill all the Protestants. His commanders asked “but how can we tell — the Catholics and Protestants all look and talk alike.”Alba’s answer was “Then kill them all, God will know His own.”===========Needless to say, that got the kids’ attention!I then told them that according to the standards and moral philosophy of his times, Alba wasn’t being cruel – he was arguably being generous and morally upright. You study history — in part — so that you can learn that people can act in ways that to us are inexplicable, but which to them are logical and sensible. You learn that to different people, in different places and times, “good” and “bad” had very different meanings, that most people are prisoners of their cultures and beliefs, and that very few people actually set out to be evil (although the road to Hell is paved with good intentions…)And when you learn and internalize that, it becomes hard to hate others. And, with luck, you learn that people with very different opinions than yours probably still want to see good and that, at least within the same culture and era, share the same principles and goals. They may be wrong, but they’re probably not deliberately evil.That’s why I don’t “hate” Obama. I dislike his policies and think they are leading to bad and potentially disasterous results. I recognize that he may be right and I may be wrong, but I have to take a stand on issues. But I shouldn’t forget that, politics and political tactics aside, most politicians would like to see a prosperous, peaceful, happy country where people have the opportunity to make the most of their innate talents and abilities.But we don’t have to agree on how to achieve those goals.

  33. shiloh says:

    @JeffreyMemo to Shiloh re: Iraq~~~~~~~~~~Interesting that you continue to mention my name, twice in this thread after my earlier reply: And it will get confusing as there are now (2) Jeff’s posting here, but will probably be ignoring you both, so no biggie!As regards to Iraq, like most political discussion on the net it has been discussed ad nauseam and in the final analysis, having engaged in political discussion since 2003, there is nothing new under the sun as the same subjects come up for discussion and people just end up repeating themselves over and over and over again, depending on their political positions.Knowing that hardly ever anything new and relevant comes up for political discussion re: political theory/history, knowledge is rarely gained from said exchange/conversation as I mostly enjoy the give and take again knowing minds aren’t likely ever gonna change …>And since you mentioned me twice and having to go to the previous thread to reference my post let me comment on one of your opinions that you mentioned here and the previous thread:I think you’re a rational, reasonable person (which makes me astonished that you’re to the left)As for what made me a conservative — I’m often asked that question and I usually answer by saying three things:– Native intelligence– Good parents– A good education.~~~~~~~~~~List of Barack Obama presidential campaign endorsements, 2008Ken Adelman, current member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board; former advisor to President Ronald ReaganKenneth Duberstein, former Chief of Staff (1988–1989) of Ronald ReaganDouglas Kmiec, legal counsel to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and co-chairman of Romney’s Committee for the Courts and the ConstitutionLonggg list of Nobel Laureate scientists …Warren Buffet/Bill GatesSusan Eisenhower and Julie Nixon Eisenhowerand last but not least 😉 50 Cent>Again, repeating myself 🙂 presidential elections have very little to do w/ideology as a vote for president is more of a personal vote for the best C-in-C er one party screws up and is replaced by the other party …LBJ, Vietnam War, race riots, Dems imploding beget Nixon.Nixon, Watergate, Constitutional violations beget Carter.Carter, Iran Hostage Crisis, high inflation/gas prices beget Reagan who got 50.75% of the vote in 1980.Bush41, It’s the economy stupid beget Clinton.cheney/bush, the list is too numerous to mention beget Obama.>and again 75% of political discussion is beating a dead horse as I enjoy the lively conversation.>LBJ’s landslide in ’64 ~ pundits say how will Reps ever recover ~ Nixon elected in ’68 w/43.4%.Nixon’s landslide in ’72 ~ pundits say how will Dems ever recover ~ Carter elected in ’76.The yin and yang as presidential politics is not that complicated …

  34. filistro says:

    Jeff, your post makes me feel happy and anticipatory. I think you and I are going to have a long and enjoyable association, with many conversations like the one above. I can hardly wait. ;-)As for your surprise at my support of welfare reform… I really am quite fiscally conservative. I just dislike “social conservatism”… most of it seems smarmy and self-righteous to me (as well as unpleasantly pushy, which is rude)…and social conservatism seems to be pretty much all the Republican party is about nowadays.And I loathe any whiff of “religion in politics.” I think religion has NO PLACE in politics… and historically when matters of “faith” creep into policy and governance, it never seems to ends well.

  35. shrinkers says:

    @Jeff,I agree with filistro. Your post was thoughtful, eloquent, respectful, and worthy of respect. I never bought the Bush / Daddy theory. This isn’t the place to discuss Iraq, or I’d say more about the topic. Maybe another time.I enjoy rational discussions with people who hold opinions different from mine. I do get into the trenches sometimes, but I much prefer a conversation to s shouting match.Your take on the D’Souza piece is certainly interesting. And your point is well made, that the utility of any application of logic is dependent on the viability of the initial assumptions. I’ve read a lot of the witch-hunting manuals from the Middle Ages. The logic is impeccable. The initial assumptions are dead wrong. The conclusions, therefore, suffer.there’s an important lesson, for all of us. Anyone who values rational discussion and decision-making should be willing to question his or her basic assumptions. “Be willing to” isn’t strong enough. It’s a moral imperative.

  36. Monotreme says:

    @Jeff:Let me add my voice to those who applaud your last two posts. I have a keen memory of the time before OEF. I was working on methods for detecting and mitigating nerve agents. In preparing my grant application, I read a lot of the relevant documents, at least those that were publicly available. I think it’s a fact that the Iraqi “government” owned and used nerve agent (i.e. WMD) on the Kurds. Somehow, they got rid of it between then and the start of OEF.I mention this because it’s germane to your point. No one understood, or understands to this day, exactly what motivated Saddam Hussein to destroy the WMDs he had, then bluff the Allies into thinking he still had them. Truly irrational, inexplicable, Duke of Alba behavior.I have come to realize what I dislike is not “left wing thinking” nor “right wing thinking” but rather no thinking. Inasmuch as the article by D’Souza invites epistemic closure (in common words, invites people to make up their minds with a pat, incorrect set of initial assumptions), then I think it’s trayf.

  37. shrinkers says:

    Monotreme, let me add — I think Hussein saw that he had more clout if he pretended he might have WMDs. Just a guess there, though.However, by the time we invaded, the UN inspectors were saying, quite firmly, that no WMDs existed. They were very clear on this. There were only a couple of weeks eft until they finished their inspections — and Bush ordered them to leave so he could invade instead of allowing their work to be completed.It’s hard to tell at this point, but it almost seems that Bush wanted some doubt to remain, so he could use WMDs as an excuse. But is that venturing into psychology, or political strategy? Where does one draw the line?All we know is this — According to the UN inspectors, Hussein was cooperating with them fully. They had found nothing. They had reason to suspect they would continue to find nothing. They were only a couple of weeks from completing their work. Bush ordered them to leave Iraq (or rather, he warned them to leave, since he was about to invade).So the argument that “all th ebest intelligence indicated there were WMDs — everyone thought there were — it was an honest, if horrible, mistake” seems to be baseless. The people on the ground, who had been tasked with giving a definitive answer, were in the process of giving it. And they were completely ignored.This does invite speculation, does it not? Why were they ignored? Why were they not allowed to finish? Was Bush so anxious to invade that he could not allow the completion of their work? Did he not believe the answers they were giving him? Did he think the UN inspectors were being fooled, or perhaps that they were lying? And if the answer to any of these is Yes, then, Why?But we’ll never know, really, so perhaps it’s pointless. All we do know is, as I said, “But everyone honestly thought the WMDs existed” — that is untrue. That much, we DO know.

  38. Monotreme says:

    @shrinkers:Fair enough, and you’re right.What I meant to say is, about six months out, when Bush et al. must’ve been planning OEF, we all thought there were WMDs.You’re right that by January or February, all the signs were pointing away from the existence of WMDs. However, that’s a different psychological principle, same as throwing good money after bad. Once the collective mind was made up, the die was cast.

  39. shiloh says:

    @filiHot off the presses: The GOP “Pledge to America.”~~~~~~~~~~Since their Contract on America worked so well lol they are now trying to bullshit the voters w/their new gobbledygook!Again, the best thing Reps have going for them is American voters short term and long term memories …

  40. shrinkers says:

    Wow.That document proposes the most destructive and dangerous policies I can imagine.I note they don’t spend a lot of time talking about abortion, same-sex marriage, and the other such issues — just a few dogwhistle hints on the early pages, unless I missed something. But the economic policies proposed are — well, insane.It’s long enough that very few people are actually going to read it. They’ll get their take from MSM.But I see quite a few outright lies in it already. And the rhetoric is so overblown — it’s all Teaper nonsense.What total bullshit.

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