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Thursday, July 08, 2004

Battle Patriotism - Challenger - Second Rebuttal

As much fun as it would likely be for the audience (and surely the two of us as well, if we're being honest) if Rosemary and I allowed this jabfest to remain on its current course and escalate into a full-scale hair-pulling cat-fight, I'm simply can't waste the kilobytes. My list of talking points is far too long as is!

Out of the gate, I believe it worth noting that I was comparing myself to the schoolmarm, in the opening of my Tuesday rebuttal. I can be a little snipey for grins, but I wouldn't just outright insult like that -- honest.

Now, let's get right to business. The Iron Blogger has misinterpreted or misdirected several statements of mine; whether in confusion or strategy is not for me to guess, but I still need to make them clear for the record.

1. The IB said, "[PG's] position is that patriotism is indefinable, she's essentially arguing that no debate is possible."

Not at all. My position is that patriotism does have a clinical definition but that its execution is individual and personal. I never said anything like "debate is impossible." The Chairman asked what patriotism is, and I took a position that, whatever it may be, it is definitely cannot be what the Bush Administration and its mouthpieces claim it is when they use the concept to obfuscate their actions to the American people.

I said "we cannot credibly judge or sanction the level of patriotism in an individual." I can have the opinion that Rosemary is unpatriotic, and she can have the opinion that I am unpatriotic... and either opinion, plus a token, will get us on the subway... and neither of us is wrong or right. There is no catholic criterion, therefore the Iron Blogger can't be in possession of it.

I call on the Iron Blogger to stipulate in her Closing Statement that there will never be a time when we can all agree on what it means to be or feel patriotic.

2. The IB said, "The challenger is upset that I gave her little to rebut. Perhaps there isn't much to rebut in a winning argument."

Well, that's one way of looking at it. Another is that my opponent hasn't offered us much in Battle Patriotism, beyond, "Here's the dictionary definition, and I think patriotism is good, and there's some hippie out in California who is a crazy hippie." This was not a prima facie case after her Opening Argument, and it is still not a prima facie case after the First Rebuttals -- even with the addition of "A college senior is at least 21. That's totally different from a teenager! Stalinists! Fantasy demons! Circus clown! Nazi stormtrooper! Saddam Hussein! KKK! Communist! Moonbat! Hey, what's that in the sky?"

3. The IB said, "The challenger suggests that there's documented evidence of violence toward people who are insufficiently patriotic but none of her links show any such violence, just one link about a mosque being vandalized."

First, I didn't actually say that. I said, "One might argue that using anti-American sentiment to incite a group to violence against those perceived as pro-America could be considered treason... but it'd sure be a stretch, especially considering the ridiculously higher incidence of the reverse in action," which is a vastly different statement.

Second, where I'm from, breaking into a building, spraypainting "Sand Niggers" on the walls, and stealing religious artifacts is considered violence. And from the same article about the mosque:
"Incidents targeting mosques and Islamic centers have occurred across America, particularly since the 9/11 terror attacks. In August of last year, investigators determined that a blaze at the Islamic Center of Savannah in Savannah, Ga., was an act of arson. In 2002, a pick-up truck was driven into the front of the Islamic Center of Tallahassee, Fla. Similar attacks have occurred in a number of other states, including Texas, Washington and Ohio."


If there is a remarkably different standard in Rosemary's location for the definition of violence in other states, I'd be happy to entertain a discussion about how the aforementioned might not be considered violent.

Third, I suspect Rosemary did not read the other links. If she had, she would have known that Jehovah's Witnesses were routinely beaten and persecuted for refusing to pledge allegiance to the U.S. flag (it is forbidden by their religious tenets) in the 1930's and 1940's. This is not one isolated vague half-reference from one website, either. Here are more links for anyone else who didn't know about that particular persecution in the name of patriotism. How is this not violence?:
"Jehovah's Witnesses meetings were besieged, windows were smashed and their meeting halls were set ablaze. In Oregon, the governor called out the militia to quell a mob. The United States Attorney General, saying that Jehovah's Witnesses 'have been repeatedly set upon and beaten,' made a nationwide radio appeal to the American people to stop the violence."
~ Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul E. Pfeifer


The Iron Blogger obviously had one of two trains of thought: she knows that "violence toward people who are insufficiently patriotic" does happen, but merely wanted to point out what she considered a paucity of links -- or she truly doesn't believe that violence is perpetrated toward people who are insufficiently patriotic. (Rosemary, please let me know which of these two is the case and I will rectify it either way in my Closing.)

4. The IB said, "Dictionary definitions are not 'fruit of the poison tree.' That's a Non-Sequitur." It can't be a non sequitur if I never said any such thing. I have no truck with the dictionary. I said that IB's opinion-based mores made her personal definitions unusable. Since I'd already established that an interpretation of "patriotism" based solely on personal opinion is flawed, subsequently using that tainted interpretation to then define "treasonous" is just about a textbook case of the legal concept of "fruit of the poisonous tree."

5. The IB said, "[Iran-Contra] is hardly a clear-cut example of treason." Only, I never said it was a clear-cut anything. In fact, I was careful to qualify my statement with no superlatives, and said "many considered the Iran-Contra affair an open act of treason."

Then, while dillying with Iran-Contra, Rosemary completely ignored my reference to the Plame-Wilson affair. If there has been a more insidious act of high treason since Aldrich Ames, I can't think of it... and yet it was bypassed by the Iron Blogger completely. Sometimes silence speaks volumes.

I feel that the only right thing my opponent can do here is to stipulate to my second point in re "treasonous" and "traitorous"... or quit messing around with Rebecca the Teenaged Socialist, and let's get down to Valerie Plame -- some real live treason, documented in places other than one neocon blog, and committed by George W. Bush's people:
"The latest salvo was launched this week when a group of respected former CIA officials, led by decorated analyst Larry C. Johnson, sent a letter to [Dennis Hastert] demanding that Congress hold the White House accountable for deliberately revealing the identity of [Plame]. Johnson, who also served as deputy director for the State Department's Office of Counter Terrorism, says the administration's political tactics are clear. 'With this White House, I see an outright pattern of bullying,' he told Salon in an interview Thursday. 'We've seen it across different agencies, a pattern of going after anybody who's a critic. When people raise legitimate issues that may not be consistent with existing administration policy, those people are attacked and their character is impugned.'"

"'When you expose clandestine human intelligence sources,' he fumes, 'you aid and abet terrorists.' Johnson speaks out not as a partisan opponent to the president, but as a registered Republican who has given money to Bush in the past."


Interestingly, the Iron Blogger sourced Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs... but Charles himself calls a man who "disclosed confidential details about his country�s military programme" a "Traitor By Any Definition."

6. The IB says, "[PG] talks about documented evidence of violence by the right and gives us no evidence of violence by the right." If anyone can show me where I talked even obliquely about violence "by the right", I'll bake them cookies.

To use Rosemary's own words, "It's rather irresponsible to accuse a [wo]man of saying something [s]he never said." Especially when that something is attributing violence to an entire ideological group.

Whether or not there is a Freudian slip to be noted in the fact that I talked about pro-American violence incited toward those who are perceived as anti-American... and Rosemary interpreted that as violence "by the right"... well, that's really not for me to ponder.

7. The IB says, "I said that there is a way to express your dissent in a patriotic manner, [PG] disagrees with me." I'm offering another batch of cookies to anyone who can point out where I disagreed with that statement. It's not that this tiny point is a hole in the dam of the entire argument or anything -- it's just another glaring example of a place where my opponent took a few of the major words I might have used ("dissent, patriotic," etc.) and rearranged them in a sentence that has no connection at all with my posts. It's like refrigerator magnet poetry, only with far darker implications.

8. Rosemary gets very, very hung up on the sourcing I chose to back up my assertion that "the only incontrovertible display of anti-Americanism is when representatives of the State challenge the 'patriotism' of a dissenting citizen". I linked CNN quoting Dick Cheney, yet she says I give "not a single example" -- not once but twice! repeating herself with "No actual link proving our 'elected officials' have committed the offense you speak of"...

Now, for my part, I think that CNN, publishing one of their regular contributors, who was a former host of Crossfire and well-respected in the American political community, and is talking about the Vice President of the United States, is a nice legitimate link.

Sure, Bill Press aligns liberal, but when you compare it to my opponent's sourcing pattern -- she who has relied almost completely on Republican/conservative/pro-Bush private blogs (this LT Smash person must be quite the blogger), and the dictionary/Wikipedia -- I think my one li'l ol' CNN link is practically authoritative.

In the event that it is not CNN with whom Rosemary quibbles, but the idea that Vice President Cheney Himself was misrepresented, let's disregard Bill Press and look at just the words from Cheney's own mouth on May 21, 2002:

"Such commentary is thoroughly irresponsible and totally unworthy of national leaders in a time of war."

This is actually the crux of my entire argument: for the Vice President of the United States of America to refuse to answer questions posed by the public about the actions of our very own government, and insult the querent in the process, is the total opposite of patriotism. He does not have to actually literally use the word "patriotism" in order to question someone's patriotism.

And yet, the Iron Blogger interpreted his sentence as "[Cheney] criticized people for irresponsible and divisive rhetoric." Either she is patently ignoring Cheney's intended point in order to gloss over the audacity, or I am misunderstanding, and my opponent can clarify by answering the following:

Rosemary, how do you interpret "Such commentary is thoroughly irresponsible and totally unworthy of national leaders in a time of war"? Is it truly "divisive", as you said? Who is being divided? What part of inquiring about the administration's intelligence knowledge prior to September 11 is "rhetoric"? The phrase "divisive rhetoric" is usually used regarding partisan message. Can you help me understand how inquiries about September 11 are de facto partisan?

Was Dick Cheney or was he not saying that we shouldn't question our government? He either was or wasn't. If inquiring about the administration's intelligence knowledge prior to September 11 is legitimately "irresponsible," then can you help me understand the purpose of the Federal 9-11 Commission? Can you show me instances where the commission refused to provide information to victims' family members on the basis that doing so would be "irresponsible" under Dick Cheney's reasoning (since it is still a time of war, after all)?

I'm happy to listen, because what I care most about walking away from my stint as Iron Blog Challenger with is understanding.

To close with the bit of the IB's 1R that I found the silliest:

In comparing my intelligence to that of her 6-year-old (and finding mine lacking), the Iron Blogger says:

"He asked me why people swear. My reply was simple: when people are angry it's too hard to think. They turn lazy and stupid. They are unable to express themselves thoughtfully. Basically, they already have a limited vocabulary and the anger stresses them to a breaking point. They can no longer think clearly. My son understood that why can't the Challenger?

"If you can't express your dissent in a civil manner not only are you unpatriotic, but you are also lazy and stupid."


So, my opponent is saying that people who use profanity in anger are unpatriotic, lazy and stupid.

If I'm not mistaken, the Iron Blogger just called the President of the United States unpatriotic, which is unpatriotic. Why does she hate America?
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