Standing Up Against The New McCarthyism And Ending The Iraq War

Paul Waldman writes a good piece about Rush Limbaugh saga. I especially like his connecting Rush' New McCarthyism techniques to the Republican Party New McCarthyism on Iraq:

Think about how much time and effort they expend on convincing Americans that progressives and Democrats are “anti-military,” “hate the troops,” and even “hate America.” So any progressive veteran who criticizes Bush administration policies represents a profound threat to all the arguments they have made. It becomes particularly thorny when nearly the entire current leadership of the conservative movement — not only media figures like Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly, but also political figures including President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and many others — were of draft age during the Vietnam war but managed to stay out of harm's way.

But Democrats and their allies like Move On do not win this battle by aping this strategy, as Move On wrongly did; this battle is won by Democrats standing up against these McCarthyite tactics and, more importantly, standing up to Bush on Iraq. That means not funding the Iraq debacle after a date certain. More.

In essence, the Republican message on national security is that Democrats are wimps. And Democrats like Carl Levin (D-MI), who write things like this, confirm the GOP message:

I voted against going to war in Iraq; I have consistently challenged the administration's conduct of the war; and I have long fought to change our policy there. But I cannot vote to stop funding the troops while they are in harm's way, conducting dangerous missions such as those recently begun north of Baghdad.

When Republicans portray Democrats as wimps, people like Carl Levin confirm that view with their mealy mouthedness. And pundits like Jon Alter reinforce this view:

It isn't easy to make the case for capitulation and gamesmanship when human lives are at stake, but I'm going to try. That's because many Americans—especially on the left—don't understand why Democrats in Congress had no choice but to proceed the way they have this week on the war in Iraq.

Last May I wrote in response to Alter:

I'm going to concentrate only on the politics of the situation here, let's leave the human lives at stake aside. Ahhhhhh. Just writing that sentence tells us what is wrong with this thinking. The POLITICS won't let us leave that aside. For this is the essential Democratic problem, they are viewed as standing for nothing. For having no principles. As Ruy Texeira and John Halpin put it:

The thesis of this report is straightforward. Progressives need to fight for what they believe in — and put the common good at the center of a new progressive vision — as an essential strategy for political growth and majority building. This is no longer a wishful sentiment by out-of-power activists, but a political and electoral imperative for all concerned progressives. . . . [T]he underlying problem driving progressives' on-going woes nationally [is] a majority of Americans do not believe progressives or Democrats stand for anything.

Alter's thinking is a reflection of this.

This is why pushing back on Limbaugh is important, but not as important as not funding the Iraq Debacle. 


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  1. but the message he parrots REQUIRES push-back.  i almost think addressing his comments specifically legitimizes him in a way i wouldnt…but answering the claims of being ‘soft’, ‘unpatriotic’ and ‘phony’ if you oppose the occupation is necessary…

    however, its my opinion that lack of spine and push-back on the actual occupation arent due to the fear of being perceived as weak or unpatriotic…i think its fear of being blamed for any post-occupation fallout….escalation of civil war, genocide,  iranian interference, etc.

    which wouldnt be as big an issue if people were allowed to know how bad things are there now….because you know that if the dems force withdrawal the msm will be all over any post-occupation violence in an attempt to vindicate the warmongers’ position.

  2. Zero tolerance for cowards and sellouts.

    Those who sell out to the Bush administration on a routine basis should be primaried out.

  3. that democrats need to make clear that having the loudest and most militarily aggressive “strategy” is not proof of “strength.” particularly when it undermines our national security.

    here’s a handy collection of links, from an earlier dk diary:

    The Terrorism Index

    Foreign Policy and the Center for American Progress conducted a survey on national security issues. They call it The Terrorism Index:

    Surveying more than 100 of America’s top foreign-policy experts-Republicans and Democrats alike-the FOREIGN POLICY/Center for American Progress Terrorism Index is the only comprehensive, nonpartisan effort to mine the highest echelons of the nation’s foreign-policy establishment for its assessment of how the United States is fighting the war on terror.

    How bad is the Bush Adminstration?

    Nearly every foreign policy of the U.S. government-from domestic surveillance activities and the detention of terrorist suspects at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to U.S. energy policies and efforts in the Middle East peace process-was sharply criticized by the experts. More than 6 in 10 experts, for instance, believe U.S. energy policies are negatively affecting the country’s national security. The experts were similarly critical of the CIA’s rendition of terrorist suspects to countries known to torture prisoners and the Pentagon’s policy of trying detainees before military tribunals.

    No effort of the U.S. government was more harshly criticized, however, than the war in Iraq. In fact, that conflict appears to be the root cause of the experts’ pessimism about the state of national security. Nearly all-92 percent-of the index’s experts said the war in Iraq negatively affects U.S. national security, an increase of 5 percentage points from a year ago. Negative perceptions of the war in Iraq are shared across the political spectrum, with 84 percent of those who describe themselves as conservative taking a dim view of the war’s impact. More than half of the experts now oppose the White House’s decision to “surge” additional troops into Baghdad, a remarkable 22 percentage-point increase from just six months ago. Almost 7 in 10 now support a drawdown and redeployment of U.S. forces out of Iraq.


    More than half say the surge is having a negative impact on U.S. national security, up 22 percentage points from just six months ago. This sentiment was shared across party lines, with 64 percent of conservative experts saying the surge is having either a negative impact or no impact at all.

    They rate the handling of the war as a 2.9 on a scale of 10.


    Only 12 percent believe that terrorist attacks would occur in the United States as a direct result of a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq.

    The Bush Administration’s incompetence and negligence allowed the September 11 terrorist attacks to happen

    Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger and the National Security Council’s counterterrorism chief, Richard Clarke warned Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney and Stephen Hadley in January 2001 that: “You’re going to spend more time during your four years on terrorism generally and al-Qaida specifically than any issue.” They were ignored.

    Clarke later testified that “the administration did not consider terrorism an urgent priority before the September 11, 2001, attacks, despite his repeated warnings about Osama bin Laden’s terror network.

    Although Predator drones spotted bin Laden at least three times in 2000, Bush did not fly them over Afghanistan for the first eight months of his presidency.

    The Bush Administration ignored the two and a half year Hart-Rudman U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century’s warnings about terrorism, choosing, instead, to conduct their own study.

    Neither Bush nor Cheney made good on an announced plan to study the consequences of a domestic attack.

    Obsessed with missile defense, the Bush Administration thought it was wrong to even focus on Osama bin Laden.

    Throughout the summer of 2001, Tenet, Clarke, and several other officials were running around with their “hair on fire,” warning that al-Qaida was about to unleash a monumental attack.

    In July, 2001, CIA Director George Tenet warned Rice “that ‘the system was blinking red,’ meaning that there could be ‘multiple, simultaneous’ al-Qaeda attacks on U.S. interests in the coming weeks or months.

    On August 6, 2001, Bush received a Presidential Daily Brief titled “Bin Laden determined to strike in US.”

    Bush’s response to his CIA briefer was: “All right. You’ve covered your ass, now.”

    Meanwhile, Don Rumsfeld was vetoing a request to divert $800 million from missile defense into counterterrorism.

    Not to be outdone, just a day before the attacks, Attorney General John Ashcroft turned down “F.B.I. requests for $58 million for 149 new counterterrorism field agents, 200 intelligence analysts and 54 additional translators.”; instead, he “proposed cuts in 14 programs. One proposed $65 million cut was for a program that gives state and local counterterrorism grants for equipment, including radios and decontamination suits and training to localities for counterterrorism preparedness.”

    The Bush Administration’s incompetence and negligence allowed Al Qaeda and the Taliban to get away with it, and because of that, both groups are now growing stronger and more dangerous.

    Bush Administration incompetence allowed bin Laden to get away, when he could have been caught or killed, at the battle of Tora Bora.

    The failure to defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban is now complete.

    The Taliban in Afghanistan are growing stronger.

    They’re also growing stronger in nuclear armed Pakistan, threatening to overrun the government.

    Al Qaeda has also regrouped, and is growing stronger in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    A recent assessment by the National Counterterrorism Center, was even titled “‘Al-Qaida Better Positioned to Strike the West.”

    The failure is so complete that both Afghanistan and Pakistan are now having to negotiate reconciliation with the Taliban


    655,000 Iraqis killed, at least 3669 American and 293 allied military personnel killed, at least 27,000 American military personnel wounded, and some 8,000,000 Iraqis in need of emergency aid.

    The war is damaging our image around the world.

    According to a Global Market Insite report, it’s damaging our businesses.

    It’s spawning a new generation of terrorists.

    And terrorism is on the rise, all around the world.

    The administration stopped the military from attacking Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, before the start of the Iraq War.

    A year later, he founded “Al Qaeda in Iraq” and pledged allegiance to bin Laden.

    Our detention camps in Iraq are breeding grounds for new terrorists.

    Bush’s overhaul of security at federal buildings may be making federal employees less secure.

    “The most successful international team ever assembled to probe suspected WMD activities is shutting down this week, thanks to U.S. and British insistence. The team (the U.N. commission initially acronymed UNSCOM and then UNMOVIC) spent 16 years uncovering and destroying Saddam Hussein’s chemical, biological and missile weapons programs. The U.S. invasion of Iraq proved that the U.N.’s intel-overruled by the Bush administration-had indeed been correct: Saddam no longer had WMD. But late last month, the U.S. and British governments pushed through the U.N. Security Council a vote to halt funding for UNMOVIC.”

    The Pentagon has lost track of 190,000 assault weapons given to Iraqi security forces.

    A British commander in southern Afghanistan even asked U.S forces to leave the area, because the high level of civilian casualties is understandably alienating the locals.

    A new Cold War?

    “Missile Defense” has provoked Russia into ceasing to comply with a treaty on conventional arms.

    It’s also provoking Russia to re-target its missiles at Europe.

    Destroying our military

    As of the beginning of 2006, Stop-Loss policy had prevented at least 50,000 troops from leaving the military when their service was scheduled to end.

    Multiple deployments are adding to the troops’ stress.

    Nearly two-thirds of polled veterans from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars consider the military over-extended.

    Troops stationed in Germany are increasingly going AWOL rather than be cannon fodder for Bush’s insanity.

    The army had to revise updwards its understated desertion rate.

    West Point graduates are leaving the military at the highest rate in three decades, as repeated tours of Iraq drive out some of the army’s best young officers.

    Both Republican and Democratic governors warned Bush that using National Guard troops for his escalation was overburdening units already stretched to their limits.

    Two army brigades had to forgo their desert training to accomodate Bush’s escalation schedule.

    Deployed single parents are having to fight to retain custody of their children.

    In April of this year, tours of duty were extended from 12 to 15 months.

    Republicans killed Senator Webb’s attempt to give troops more down time between deployments

    A 2006 study showed that eighty percent of marines killed from upper body wounds would have survived, if they’d had adequate body armor.

    Troops have been having to improvise their own vehicle armor, because the military hasn’t been providing the real thing.

    Even as the escalation began, thousands of Army Humvees still lacked FRAG Kit 5 armor protection.

    The Veterans Administration knew as early as 2004 that there were serious problems with the conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center- and did nothing.

    The Department of Defense also knew about the problems long before public exposure and the resulting outcry forced them to actually do something about it.

    Veterans are receiving fewer medical disability benefits now than before the war.

    Up to twenty percent of Iraq Vets may be suffering Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

    A Pentagon task force concluded that the available medical care for those troops suffering psychological problems is “woefully inadequate.”

    Wounded soldiers classified as medically unfit for battle were being reclassified as fit, so they could be sent back into battle.

    These reclassifications were done to provide enough manpower for Bush’s escalation.

    Even soldiers with acute Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder were being sent back to Iraq.

    “Soldiers who have served — or are serving — in Iraq are killing themselves at higher percentages than in any other war where such figures have been tracked.”

    The army has the highest suicide rate in 26 years.

  4. …using the “McCarthyism” frame to handle this.

    Like with most of the most awful things in history, what made McCarthyism particularly pernicious was that it was government-enabled and enforced.  Suspected communists (including my grandfather), had to testify under oath and had their careers derailed by act of government.

    The difference between that and a bunch of ideologically like-minded individuals slandering people is profound.  And we belittle the future threats by not recognizing that difference.  Rush Limbaugh has no power of his own.  HUAC had loads.

    • sometv on October 6, 2007 at 21:39

    to do something, sent a letter to my senators and congresswoman:


    I understand the decorum placed upon elected leaders commits them to a certain constitution of language in public conversation.  But when the very nature of that constitution of behavior is threatened, it’s existence placed in grave danger, these constrictions need to be lifted.

    Presently the United States is being directed by the worst presidential administration in the history of the country.  As this goes unacknowledged and unspoken by the members of the senate and house, due to the “respect for the office of the president,” the country teeters towards the dissolution of its fundamental premises as outlined in its constitution and bill of rights.  I ask you at this point of time to forgo that “respect for the office of the president” and acknowledge the damage the present administration has caused to this country.  I ask that every public remark you make is prefaced with an acknowledgment of this damage, and each private conversation you have is begun in the same manner.  I ask that you have the conversation I am having with you with all of the leaders of the Democratic Party.  And I especially ask that these words are passed along to the Democratic presidential candidates.

    Language is a very powerful tool when used, and an effective weapon when it is allowed to be heard.  It would be nice to hear this vocabulary used by the Democrats as loudly as the Republicans use theirs, and it would be nice to see the Democratic vocabulary as effective as the words used by Republicans.


    Have not heard back yet, will post when I do.

    • LT on October 6, 2007 at 21:58

    He lives in a gated community and speaks to zombies in not-gated communites who have mentally gated themselves from the realites of the world. Dragging him by his rat tail out of the basement and having people showing him to the other world is good for everybody.

    And – there is no way to argue with you about what’s more important.

  5. on this….I find myself going a little Angry Rakkasan though and allow me to get sort of squishy and say that I want more cure applied to the MacCarthyism tactics and then watch as the all over inflammation goes down.  P.S. I’m emotionally prepared for you to tell me how this notion is really stupid now 😉

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