Monday, March 19, 2007

You Can't Assume Normalcy

I saw an interesting rant on a lefty blog the other day, which made a point I'd like to apply to our discussion.

Here are bits and pieces of thereisnospoon, talking about the debate over "the surge." Language is a little stronger than I usually use, it includes the appropriate and accurate use of a well-known colloquialism, so I'm not going to net-nanny this.
In case you missed it, the Kuwait News Agency (whatever that is) reported last week that U.S. troop deaths were down by 60%. The Kuwait News Agency gave that story directly and exclusively to rightwing hack Matt Drudge; from there it has become the GOP talking point du jour, appearing everywhere from The Economist to a wide variety of stupid right wing blogs. They are arguing, in other words, that the surge is working because U.S. deaths in Iraq are supposedly down--and that Democrats should get in line behind the brilliant Commander-in-Chief.

And what, pray tell, has been the Democratic and Progressive response? That the surge isn't working, because U.S. troop deaths aren't really down, and that Drudge and the Kuwait News Agency are lying. And, as usual, the truth is on our side, while the lies are on theirs. The Drudge/Kuwait News lies are nicely debunked by Will Bunch at Attytood, and even by Kossacks quaoar and R o o k: the Kuwait News Agency is misrepresenting data by only taking a segment of U.S. troop deaths, and claiming it's talking about the whole country.

The problem is that this response--while necessary--is absolutely stupid, and sets the debate squarely on terms favorable to the GOP. We do need, of course, to debunk lies where we see them--but to stop there and assume that we have therefore won the debate is the height of folly. By accepting the GOP's framing on this issue, we have already lost the debate about the surge (new Out-of-Iraq opinion polls notwithstanding)--regardless of which lies we may or may not debunk. The entire debate on the subject is bullshit.
The entire debate is bullshit because the success or failure of any "surge" or "escalation" of U.S. forces in Iraq does NOT hinge on the increase or decrease of U.S. deaths in Iraq. It would seem that all sides--Progressive, Democrat, Republican, and Chiliastic Authoritarian Nutcase--have forgotten the very first reason that we ostensibly still have troops in Iraq in the first place: to stabilize Iraq as a sovereign, democratic nation and to get Iraqis to stop killing one another. That is, after all, the reason proffered by weak-kneed Democrats and lying Republicans for the continued presence of U.S. troops. My Left Wing

In Montgomery County, we sometimes succumb to this attraction. We sometimes act as if there really were a debate over the details of the sex education curriculum, as if we could win the argument by debating whether this wording is optimal, that fact is accurate, or these points are made strongly enough.

You can't win that one. That's just not what it's about.

Oh, the school district has an obligation to tune up the classes, to make them as good as possible, and as citizens if we choose to get involved in the process we will have the opportunity to consider whether this source is valid, this survey is accurate, this advice is timely. And actually, MCPS is doing a great job of tuning out the noise and doing this hard work.

But the Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum are not attacking the details of the curriculum. They wouldn't think it was better if MCPS changed some wording, or changed the focus here or there. The CRC isn't trying to make it better, they're trying to destroy it.

Step back and look at the techniques they use. The legal attacks, the letters to families, the robo-calls, the exaggerations and lies. This isn't about improving public education in Montgomery County -- hardly any of them even have kids in the public schools here. No, it started honestly enough, as a bald attempt to replace the entire school board with extremists. Their original web site,, was not named randomly. This was -- and is -- an attempted takeover by a tiny minority who think they can seize control of the school district by incessant repetition of knee-jerk talking-points.

In some ways, the battle is about who decides. Does the school district, with input from the community, develop classroom materials, or do they give that authority to a self-appointed band of bigots who will not accept anything less than absolute adherence to their unacceptable beliefs? You know what my opinion is on that: if they want to belly-up and join in the process, they're as welcome as anyone. But a dozen or so fanatics in a county of a million people do not make demands, they don't insist, and the rest of us are not obligated to play along with them.

They don't feel they need to follow the process. They don't feel they need to tell the truth. Their mission is so incredibly more important than any processes or silly truths that they must accomplish it, no matter what. God Himself demands it, and the rest of us are simply unqualified to see His wishes.

No, sorry, I am in favor of a civil debate. I am in favor of moving the thermostat back and forth between the conservative end and the liberal end of the dial, depending on what the facts are, and what people are comfortable with. But everybody shouldn't have to freeze because a handful of nuts think it's too hot in here.

I will continue to keep pointing out the lies and the deceit, so people who live here can see just how our county is being attacked by these unscrupulous whiners. But we must be careful not to think that's what this is about.

This debate is about protecting our civil processes from being taken over by extremists who do not have our community's best interests in mind.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

All Three Parents Cheer for UNLV's Joe Darger

If any of you polygamists out there are looking for a team to support (or another team, I should say, as you've never really limited yourself to just one anything, have you?) in the NCAA tournament, might I recommend the UNLV Runnin' Rebs?

Joe Darger, a 6'7" shooter, has 18 siblings (with ages ranging from 2 to 40), a mother, a father, and another woman whom his father married. CBS loves to get the crowd shots of proud parents during tournament games. I can't wait to see how they handle Joe's three parents. Billy Packer will need the telestrator to explain that one to the home viewer.

After spending the morning at a baptism (I bet they go to three or four of those a week), fifteen of Joe's family members made the trip to Vegas to see the last game of UNLV's regular season. His parents bought Joe an off-campus house, because they didn't want him to live in a dorm with the plentiful amount of tempting ladyfolk wondering around.

By all accounts in this New York Times article, they're very sweet people. Polygamy is odd to me, but I try not to judge, because if two UNLV cheerleaders came to me tomorrow and asked me to marry both of them, I'm not sure I'd say no. The Dargers might be a non-traditional family, but it's a family nonetheless. Ultimately, I suppose that's what counts.

March 19, 2007 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Dargers might be a non-traditional family

On the contrary, the Dargers are a very traditional family. Polygamy is an ancient and traditional form of marriage found throughout the Bible.

March 23, 2007 8:09 AM  

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