Backtalk July 30, 2004

Do We Want a War Criminal as President?

Being a left-wing reader of your site can be an interesting experience. I alternate between spasms of absolute joy and absolute outrage – I so passionately agree and disagree with you on a variety of issues, I never know what to expect. It’s never boring reading your column.

As to your latest column on the ABB [“anyone but Bush”] crowd – I can only say AMEN! I only wish you would’ve given at least a little paragraph to those of us on the Left who deeply, deeply despise the Democrats. I am so completely disgusted by the moral bankruptcy of liberals and their vicious campaign against Ralph Nader and those of us who voted for him in 2000. I don’t think it’s fair for you to refer wholesale to “the antiwar Left” – that’s a very broad group of people and there are a lot of people on the Left out here who reject the ABB argument.

One online publication enrages me in particular: Salon. I use it as an example because it is so indicative of the total moral collapse and moral degeneracy of liberals in this country.

Salon is nothing more than an appendage to and journalistic prostitute of the Democratic Party. Scratch that – at least prostitutes get paid for their service. Salon shills for the Dems for free. Salon NEVER EVER passes up the opportunity to smear Ralph Nader, regularly publishing articles attacking him for various financial improprieties while remaining totally silent about the institutional and far, far greater financial corruption of the Democratic Party. Salon and liberals of its ilk rail against GOP activists around the country working to get Nader on the ballot – never stopping for one moment to morally examine their own approval of Democratic Party attempts to prevent Nader and anyone else access to the electoral system in this country. Salon liberals APPROVE of the collusion between the two big parties to exclude third party candidates from the debates. Salon liberals APPROVE of corrupt Democratic Party machinations around the country to defeat more progressive candidates both within and outside their own parties.

Furthermore, the record of Salon liberal writers in the run-up to the Iraq war is absolutely reprehensible. Salon published fawning interviews with pro-war liberals like Christopher Hitchens and Paul Berman, and attacked the antiwar Left for “supporting” Saddam Hussein. Salon covered antiwar demonstrations with dismissive contempt, caricaturing demonstrators as clueless and irrelevant. Meanwhile, Salon continuously publishes flattering articles about Kerry and Bill Clinton.

Predictably, Salon’s record on Israel-Palestine is mired in racist liberal Zionism. Salon never misses a chance to write a sensationalistic piece about some Arab/ Muslim activist, attacking him for being “anti-Semitic” while failing to publish any Palestinian and Arab voices. …

As Alex Cockburn never tires of pointing out, the Republicans were far more tolerant of Perot and his Reform Party than the Dems have been of their dissidents. I do not understand how ABB liberals expect to endear me to their cause when for four I’ve been told that I am at fault for everything that has happened since Bush came into office because I dared to vote for Ralph Nader.

I’m sick of their Stalinist tactics. So I’ve decided to vote for whoever looks good to me on the ballot here in NY state. It won’t be the miserable John Kerry.

~ Sandra Nicholas, Brooklyn, NY

Justin Raimondo replies:

It’s never boring reading your column” – now THAT is the ultimate compliment. Many thanks.

Who are you voting for? Or not? Inquiring minds want to know.


Justin Raimondo replies:

I haven’t decided. But, in any case, I’m under no illusion that the act of voting will somehow magically provide me with a solution to the enormous problem of how to preserve our old republic and save the peace of the world.

Justin Raimondo’s relationship with the truth has always been casual at best, but his characterization of the Nader speech in San Francisco last week was truly pure fantasy. To assert that Nader’s mention of “corporate socialism” was met with an “uncomprehending silence” that “underscores how clueless much of the Left is to what’s really going on in this country,” and that that phrase and the subsequent exclamation by one person left the audience “stunned,” is nothing short of ridiculous.

First of all, I was in the audience myself, and I can only wonder: exactly how did Justin diagnose this silence as “uncomprehending,” as opposed to simply “polite”? When did the “uncomprehending” silence begin, exactly – given that there’d already been silence for a minute or so since the last round of applause, and given that the next round of applause started shortly thereafter?

Second, and more importantly, to assert that the Left is unaware of or uninterested in corporate socialism is to reveal either extraordinary ignorance or extreme dishonesty – and since I give Justin credit for not being so utterly ignorant of progressive views, it must be the latter. Progressives are intimately aware of and opposed to corporate socialism in particular and corporate exceptionalism in general; we discuss it, write books about it (the short, superb Take the Rich Off Welfare is a signal example), organize to oppose it in all its forms, and so on. In fact that’s precisely why one progressive in the audience was moved to shout out loud at that point in Nader’s speech – one of only two or three such exclamations during the speech, I might add. (And if you wonder why I think that guy was a progressive, I was sitting about four seats away from him and could read the stickers on his bag; they didn’t leave much doubt.)

The only justification I can imagine for Justin’s bizarre and dishonest portrayal of this event is that he’s somehow managed to come to the realization that it’s wrong for corporations to receive preferential treatment, but he simply can’t stand the fact that this is a core tenet of the Left and progressives – and so he feels compelled to portray himself and the shouter as the sole possessors of this wisdom in the entire crowd of mostly progressives, and the facts be damned.

But that would be giving him too much of the benefit of the doubt. Living in San Francisco has offered me several chances to witness just how maliciously Justin distorts and misrepresents those events that he and I both attend – believe me, this is not the most egregious example by a long shot – and so when I saw him leaving this event I didn’t wonder if he’d twist the truth this time around, but only how. I thought I’d do other readers the service of letting them know about this as well, lest they mistake his oh-so-conveniently colored renditions for reality.

~ John Caruso, San Francisco, CA

Justin Raimondo replies:

I would say the silence surrounding Nader’s “corporate socialism” remark was deafening precisely because it was bracketed by applause, and I would further suggest that the very phrase “corporate socialism” is one that most (not all) self-described “progressives” would find offensive. Socialism, to them, is a GOOD thing: to link it to a BAD thing (in their view, that is) is … incomprehensible. It would be especially so to the members of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) so prominent on the stage, several of whom I recognized, and who apparently provided the security team at the rally

Yes, I’m sure glad we have John Caruso here in San Francisco to make sure that my reporting conforms to his preconceived leftist notions and eidetic memory. Next time, why not conduct a preemptive strike, and correct my misrepresentations before they see print? I’ll be sure to take notes.

I am confused at where the third party wants us to go. They cannot come up with a candidate, at least anyone any of us has heard of as of July 26th, yet Raimondo accuses one side of utter warmongering and the other of selling out. Its positively astounding the place where there is nowhere to turn. What the hell would Raimondo recommend? A NO vote? A blank ballot which is a pro-Bush ballot? Given an election year, besides blathering on about how everyone is just wrong, have Libertarians come up with a solution? No. They can’t get their collective sh*t together either, SO, what would Raimondo on his pulpit recommend? We don’t vote at all? If you down on two sides you’d better have a third solution, and I’d like to know what that is, or basically you’re just talking sh*t about everyone for the sake of being able to. Placing people in a corner “your damned if you do and damned if you don’t” may be journalistic play but it strains credibility in the long haul.

As an anti-war activist I am not happy about Kerry, but what exactly can I do? Easy for Raimondo to talk trash about both sides.

Curious, just what is the option?

~ Sonja O.

Justin Raimondo replies:

The option is disabusing yourself of the notion that an election is going to get us out of the terrible situation we find ourselves in, and building a grassroots antiwar movement that doesn’t depend on somebody or other winning the White House.

In answer to Mr. Raimondo’s question about whether we want a war criminal for president, I have to ask: which war criminal are you talking about – Bush, who started this crap in Iraq or Kerry, who behaved as many young and confused Americans did when they were placed in Vietnam? Bush pushed for war under the pretense of lies and with the support of religious fanatics, a Straussian cult of power, and his super wealthy base. The war still goes on, but he has yet to admit any mistakes, because all is going according to plan, as Mr. Raimondo has said in numerous articles. Nothing could be more criminal than leadership that arrogantly kills innocent lives and lies about it. Kerry, however, after becoming entangled in Vietnam, which he patriotically volunteered for (owing, in no small part, to youthful idealism and belief in the goodness of America), recognized the vileness of that enterprise and became a leader in the antiwar movement. At least we know that Kerry can change his mind and come to his senses. There is no indication that Bush ever does, and a vote for Bush (or Nader, same thing) is a vote for more and more war!

I count myself as one of the antiwar left, and I am not the least confused. Bush has got to go. We know where that highway leads to – more war. In contrast, Kerry will get us out of Iraq. As circumstances show the untenability of staying there, I am sure Kerry will make the right decision. Why? Because after voting Bush out, he knows that he will be next. The antiwar left is not dumb, like you think they are – and Kerry knows that he screw with us at his peril. All politicians want to get reelected, and, if elected come November, he will know that he will not be able to count on the antiwar vote if we are still at war four years later – unless, of course, the Republicans serve up something like Giuliani, an unlikely result.

And besides, there is more at stake here than issues of war and peace. That is the real reason you, an idealistic libertarian, are so hell bent against a Kerry Presidency, isn’t it? You are afraid of domestic policies that go against your libertarian ideology. Come out clean, Mr. Raimondo. I have had enough of your sorry, hysterical ramblings.

Bush, the most obvious and guilty war criminal must go. American will be just fine without him. And this won’t be the first time America survived with a war criminal as president. After all, it survived two terms of Andrew Jackson, who slaughtered more Indians than you can shake a stick at.

Now that I have shaken a stick at you, I dare you to reply. I won’t be holding my breath, though, because you have nothing reasonable left to say.

~ Kenneth D. Smith, Ph.D.

Justin Raimondo replies:

If you really believe Kerry will get us out of Iraq, then you are doing the right thing by voting for him. However, there is no evidence, none whatsoever, that this is true, and I imagine that, before this election season is finished, you will have abandoned that particular illusion. As for counting on the need for Kerry to be reelected to motivate him to withdraw, I wouldn’t count on it: after all, the same arguments that you are making in your letter will no doubt apply four years from now. And doubtless you will make them.

Yes, Kerry “changed his mind” about the Vietnam war: but why doesn’t he seem to remember this? You would think that he would remember the last time he saw the light, but perhaps his memory of that time has dimmed. In any case, his memory will be jogged, soon enough, if, by some chance, he does manage to win: because he’ll be in the same position as Lyndon Baines Johnson was, and, in my view, will embark on the same course: not withdrawal, but escalation.

In Justin Raimondo’s article entitled, “Do We Want A War Criminal as President?,” he correctly describes the difficulties in voting for either Kerry or Bush this fall. But Michael Peroutka of the Constitution Party, a bona-fide anti-war, anti-Draft paleo-conservative is subsequently dismissed by Raimondo in the following paragraph from the article:

The antiwar Right is even more confused, given their electoral choices this year. Anti-interventionist conservatives and libertarians face an even bleaker prospect: without even the luxury of having a major party opponent of the Warmonger-in-Chief, the Anybody But Bush League of the Right has a plethora of bad options. They can choose one of the right-wing splinter parties on the ballot this time around, all of which are opposed to the Iraq war: unfortunately, the Libertarian candidate, in the unlikely event that he wins, could possibly be arrested for tax evasion before taking office. That leaves the Constitution Party candidate, what’s-his-name, who would probably have me arrested for just a few of the activities around my house this weekend. Which is not necessarily, in my view, a complete nonstarter, because – oh well, we won’t go there. Suffice to say that, in any case, the right-wing ABB’ers are in a right quandary.

What, pray tell is Mr. Raimondo referring to? And personally, I don’t think the Anybody But Bush Right Wing is in any sort of quandary at all. The clear choice for us is, in fact, Michael Peroutka, without equivocation or apology. The full page ad for Michael Peroutka running in Pat Buchanan’s August 2nd The American Conservative tells the story. It is Peroutka and no one else for the Real Right this November.

~ Mark Dankof

I personally can’t stand John Kerry but I have to take issue with your comment re his service in Vietnam. Perhaps you think that if you were to be drafted and sent to a combat zone, you wouldn’t kill anyone? That’s what happens in a war – kill or be killed. If you are not willing to do so then you can gladly leave this country where people do it so you can write ridiculous paranoid articles like this.

~ Lisa P.

Eric Garris (webmaster) replies:

Being forced to kill doesn’t make it less of a crime. If I stick a gun in your hands and tell you to kill an innocent person or I will kill you, it still makes you a murderer.

But Kerry was not drafted, he volunteered, and he used his influence to get into the Phoenix program (which killed thousands of civilians).

I was drafted in 1971, but I chose to resist rather than to go and kill innocents. I would have gone to jail rather than commit murder. My refusal to kill doesn’t make me any less of an American, and I have no intention of leaving my country.

Iran’s Next

Excellent piece, suggesting that disarmament is merely the first phase of war. I have been saying for quite some time that the worst thing Iran can do is disarm, as this would probably ensure they are next.

Iran is caught in a trap. Supposedly, their arms would provide a pretext for invasion. But why should anybody care whether or not Iran has arms, unless they wish to invade? So, if Iran does disarm, then that makes Iran a much more vulnerable target and, still, open to invasion.

~ Mark Anderson,

The US Stumbles Over North Korea, Taiwan

In Sascha Matuszak’s article, “The US Stumbles Over North Korea, Taiwan,” it says: “Hong Kong’s Basic Law has proven inadequate in protecting the democratic freedoms Hong Kong enjoyed under British rule.”

She [sic. Mr. Matuszak is male] is not the only one who makes such a sweeping statement. This idea seems to be a trend and I do not see the logic. I was born in Hong Kong, and none of the governors were elected by us, and they were all appointed by the king or queen of Great Britain. None of the people in the government was elected by the people, except a few during the rule of the last governor. Our language was not allowed to be official either – every official document or speech must have been in English, not in our mother tongue. We were not allowed to demonstrate either.

All these things we can do now, yet the propaganda is very successful: “Hong Kong’s Basic Law has proven inadequate in protecting the democratic freedoms Hong Kong enjoyed under British rule.”

~ Lai Yin

US Must Stay Out of Sudan

Your inclusion of Rep. Ron Paul’s statement on Sudan implies that the United States should take no interest in what is happening there. He does not argue that what is happening in Sudan is not genocide; he only says that the US should not get involved. While I am hesitant to advocate unilateral action, I certainly think that the US can and should take some leadership on this issue if there is any chance that such leadership could save lives in Darfur.

While the war in Iraq was obviously a farce with no true humanitarian aims, the United States nevertheless is obligated to act, if only by supported Security Council actions, in the face of genocide in Darfur. Apparently Rep. Paul and the editors at feel that global powers have no obligation to prevent genocide. My view is that should the international community act against such genocide, it would be one of the few examples of a worthwhile use of force.

~ Clayton Whitt

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