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Bush: Invest, live normal lives, we’re not at war.
Posted by: McQ on Monday, September 11, 2006

Below it is quote from a Paul Gigot interview with President Bush which appeared in the Wall Street Journal today. Obviously it caught my eye and I paraphrase it in the title:
Five years after 9/11, I ask the president if he is surprised that—and can explain why—both Iraq and his larger antiterror policies have become so politically polarized. "Well, first of all, I do believe there's a difference between the political rhetoric out of Washington and what the citizens feel," he says.

"But this is a different kind of war. In the past, there was troop movements, or, you know, people could report the sinking of a ship. This is a war that requires intelligence and interrogation within the law from people who know what's happening. . . . Victories you can't see. But the enemy is able to create death and carnage that tends to define the action.

"And I think most Americans understand we're vulnerable. But my hope was after 9/11, most Americans wouldn't walk around saying, 'My goodness, we're at war. Therefore let us don't live a normal life. Let us don't invest.' " Mr. Bush calls it an "interesting contradiction" that he wants "people to understand the stakes of failure" in this conflict. But on the other hand, he also wants "the country to be able to grow, invest, save, expand, educate, raise their children." This is another way of saying how hard it is for a democracy to maintain support for a war without a tangible, ominous enemy such as the Soviet Union or Imperial Japan.
Note the line I emphasized. I can't imagine why George Bush wouldn't want "most Americans" to walk around saying we are at war. While I understand his point, it's just wrong. You simply can't have it both ways. You can't wage war, talk about war or govern as a war president and pretend you're not at war or hope the people don't think they're at war.

Can you imagine FDR making a similar statement after Pearl Harbor?

If indeed that is what he believes, and I have no reason to doubt that, then the long silences and lack of explanation as to what we've been doing make at least some sense. But he's still wrong.

You can't really be concerned with "the stakes of failure" if you're not willing to declare fully what we must engage in to ensure our success. Failure means losing the 'war', and it is hard for people to recognize the consequence if you're denying the activity, or hoping they don't recognize it for what it really is.

Bush is right to identify this sort of warfare as much more difficult because most of it is waged behind the scenes. But that makes it more imperative, not less, that people understand we are at war and the stakes are very high.

Because it is a different sort of war than we've ever fought before, people can still "grow, invest, save, expand, educate, raise their children." They can still lead relatively "normal lives".

But you cannot expect people to take a war seriously when it is your desire that they believe we are not at war in order to spur (or maintain) those activities. And if you do, then it is you who are setting up the "interesting contradiction", not anyone else. And it could also be argued that it is you who are abetting polarization.

If we are indeed engaged in a Global War on Terror or a Global War on Islamofascism or whatever we want to call the war, it is vitally important that people understand and buy into the war as a war. And it is the job of the president to constantly point out we are at war, explain what we're doing to win the war and ask Americans to be cognizant of the war and the possibility of sacrifices to come that may be required to win the war.

But if we're not at war, or you really don't want anyone saying "my goodness we're at war", then you and others should quit bitching about lack of support.
 
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It might help make more sense if you wouldn’t cut off your hightlighing mid-statement, and remember that the actual thing he was saying he didn’t want people thinking was "My goodness, we’re at war. Therefore let us don’t live a normal life. Let us don’t invest."

The "therefore" he warns against is his point, not a desire that nobody think we’re at war. Hasn’t he repeatedly talked about being at war, in any number of speeches?

All he says he wants people to not do, is say "we’re at war THEREFORE... [things I interpret as essentially symptoms of panic or paralysis]". Making it sound like he wants nobody to think there’s a war on at all doesn’t seem supportable, given what he actually said, minus bolding that just stops a third of the way into what he’s saying.

(And he’s also quite right that this war neither requires nor could politically support Total Mobilization like your example of World War 2.)
 
Written By: Sigivald
URL: http://
It’s a pretty paternalistic attitude if you think about it. "Don’t worry about all that nasty terrorist stuff. Just do your homework, play baseball, go to the prom, have fun and let Daddy take care of it." In some ways, it’s not so different than how the Bush Administration has handled most issues.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
It might help make more sense if you wouldn’t cut off your hightlighing mid-statement, and remember that the actual thing he was saying he didn’t want people thinking was "My goodness, we’re at war. Therefore let us don’t live a normal life. Let us don’t invest."
Or in other words, don’t think we’re at war, because war is not a "normal" state, etc., etc.

The whole quote is there, Sig ... and it says exactly what I point out. He essentially didn’t want anyone thinking we’re at war if it would disrupt the felling of normalcy and the activities associated with normalcy.

It’s a dumb statement.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Except for the very few who have volunteered to be in the Armed Forces (and some who may have been "press-ganged" into extended tours,) most of us have not been asked to sacrifice much of anything.

Oh, I know, we, and our childrens, childrens, children, will carry the debt of this war for some time. But, that is hardly the sacrifice the "greatest generation" were asked to bear during WW II.

Most of us know "we are at war."

Most of us are not living as if "we are at war."

We are conducting ourselves as "business as usual." Except for some interruptions with regard to transportation security, we have not had much change at all in our patterns of behavior.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://
I certainly understand his point Matt. Nice general sentiments. Essentially, "don’t be scared, act normally, don’t change anything".

But he said he didn’t want Americans to feel they were at war because, apparently, he values normalcy over committing to war and all that is commensurate with that.

I simply find that to be the wrong way to be thinking and the wrong thing to say. There is nothing "normal" about this country and world since 9/11. 9/10 is dead.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
McQ- I think your specific quibble here is more an instance of him not phrasing his thought properly or completely (I’m in agreement with sigivald) He also wanted to make sure to emphasize that we live a normal life (ie: buy stuff) because the economy had already taken a wallop.

He’s pointed out that we’re in a war, a long one with evil enemies many many times.

But probably not as often or as forcefully as he should’ve. Of course, if you actually still have to point out that we’re in a war to people after 9/11 ....well, those are idiots who never would’ve gotten the message anyway.

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
He’s pointed out that we’re in a war, a long one with evil enemies many many times.
I understand that, shark, but his statement speaks of a return to normal when there could be no return to normal. That came down with the towers. We were at war that instant. And hoping your fellow countrymen wouldn’t "think" that is just silly. And it is indeed contradictory given the fact that he’s pointed out many times that ’we’re at war’.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
There is a charitable way to interpret the statement: "Don’t panic and crash the economy; we need the economy to fight." And it yet remains one of our greatest advantages. Yeah, they may have some oil, but we’ve got economic depth I doubt they can even begin to understand.

Is that what he meant? I don’t really know. But it is at least a way of reading it that is true.
 
Written By: Jeremy Bowers
URL: http://www.jerf.org/iri
“Incompetent” is the word most used when increasing numbers of Americans are asked to describe President Bush. This Pew Research finding is not surprising considering Bush’s leadership failures.

He has been unable to motivate his administration or anyone else to get things done. Even when he tries to sluff his responsibility onto others, be it business, local government or foreign lands, he fails in using the bully pulpit to inspire others to make things happen.

This failure at the helm stands in contrast to other presidents that have with few words inspired others to undertake even arduous personal tasks of minimal import to the nation. To wit, back in 1963 President John F. Kennedy jocularly suggested that his chubby press secretary, Pierre Salinger, demonstrate the physical fitness of the White House staff by walking fifty miles in twenty hours.

By Monday following JFK’s offhand remark, thousands of Americans picked up the challenge and were off and walking. When European television showed images of these marchers, a walking craze swept Europe and on as far as Japan. To this day there is an annual Kennedy March in Sittard, Netherlands.

In a more serious matter in later times, lest we forget President Ronald Reagan’s motivating words to one of this nation’s most intractable enemies: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” And he did.

Of course, those were the days of men who successfully changed the tenor of their times; in these, Bush apologists fudge the times in diminution of the man’s inadequacies.

From rebuilding Baghdad to New Orleans, to fixing Social Security to the borders, no mission ever accomplished, no high-water mark along which George W. Bush leaves footprints.
 
Written By: Sam Osborne
URL: http://
By Monday following JFK’s offhand remark, thousands of Americans picked up the challenge and were off and walking.
Yeah. How long did that last?
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Good Grief, McQ, we were at war during the Cold War were we not? Life was fairly normal during that entire 40 odd year time.

For that matter, what national sacrifice was demanded during the Korean War? Viet Nam?

 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
no mission ever accomplished
The Taliban are still in control of Afghanistan? Saddam is still in control of Iraq? Everywhere other than New Orleans failing to rebuild?

No mission, huh? Check your facts.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
I think I know what he is trying to say, but Bush is such a goddamn malapropist; he can never articulate his thoughts with the right words. I think it has to do with the different nature of the threat. That we dont need to wall ourselves up in bomb shelters, or something, I’m not sure... I kinda feel like the commenter above, Jeremy Bowers!

here is another funny example.
 
Written By: Jimmy the Dhimmi
URL: http://www.warning1938alert.ytmnd.com
Good Grief, McQ, we were at war during the Cold War were we not? Life was fairly normal during that entire 40 odd year time.
Maybe its just me Mark, but I don’t want citizens walking away from the twin towers collapsing, the Pentagon getting hit and citizens causing a plane to crash before it could hit the White House and saying, "Nah, we’re not at war. No biggie. Everything is normal."

That’s why this is all fading after 5 years for heaven sake. We’re no longer mad, we no longer want these pieces of crap dead, stomped on and burned to a cinder. We should still be fighting mad.

Instead we want to pretend everything is normal and peachy keen. Then he wonders why he gets so much static about FISA and Guantanemo, etc and why everything is so polarized.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Maybe its just me Mark, but I don’t want citizens walking away from the twin towers collapsing, the Pentagon getting hit and citizens causing a plane to crash before it could hit the White House and saying, "Nah, we’re not at war. No biggie. Everything is normal."
Fair enough.

I want the citizens to think "We can stomp you f*cks into the ground without even trying very hard." Which I guess is nice, since we aren’t trying very hard. (As a nation. I’m positive that thousands of soldiers, marines and airmen would flip me the bird after reading "aren’t trying very hard".)
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
We ARE in a Confrontation, as Mark Flacy points, a la the COLD WAR. We are NOT at War. A War would demand 10% mobilization of the US population and 50% of GNP be devoted to Defense Production. That ISN’T required today.

Again McQ one of your points is well-taken, the President could be better spoken, but if your larger point is that we ARE AT WAR, I think you’re wrong the President is right.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
In the war we’re in now.. to give up acting "normal" in those things like investing, education, saving, doing business, enjoying the happinesses that America has come to symbolize.. would be to allow the terrorists to win. As long as we continue to take the offensive against them militarily, while continuing to be "America" at home... they won’t win. That’s all he’s saying. Why don’t you get that? Maybe you don’t want to get it.
 
Written By: Ron
URL: http://
I think we should put this important issue to the Ultimate Arbiter.
MK, are we at war or not?
Note that I did not phrase the question: "MK, is President Bush correct in this instance or not?" We already know that the position of the Ultimate Arbiter is that Bush is always wrong.
 
Written By: Notherbob2
URL: http://
McQ GREAT POST. My neighbor has a bomb shelter because the people who built the house (60’s) believed the cold war was a true threat. Just because the cold war ended without a mushroom cloud doesn’t mean we were not at war against a formidable foe that needed to be defeated. While I don’t think the cold war is a good analogy people still understood it was a true threat. Being PC about the reality of terrorism has hurt the fight.
 
Written By: coaster
URL: http://
In the war we’re in now.. to give up acting "normal" in those things like investing, education, saving, doing business, enjoying the happinesses that America has come to symbolize.
I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t Ron, my point is we should attempt that while understanding we are at war. And that means something.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
"when it is your desire that they believe we are not at war"

Where did he say that?


"It’s a dumb statement."

To be blunt, it’s a dumb interpretation.

"he values normalcy over committing to war and all that is commensurate with that."

So what is commensurate with being at war? Should we be holding prayer vigils every day? Gathering scrap iron nd aluminum to help the war effort? Maybe in your neighborhood people have formed neighborhood watch groups to catch terrorists, but in my neighborhood, people are living a normal, almost 9/10 life.

" Maybe its just me Mark,"

I think so.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
...attempt that while understanding we are at war. And that means something
Well then McQ best get yourself elected President, because the CURRENT President disagrees. This is semantic/definitional/axiomatic argument in that case. Obviously you think war means something that the President does not. I would submit that he might use the term confrontation, ideologic struggle, but not war. What happened in Afghnistan was a war, what happened in Iraq was a war, what happens in Iran MAY be a war. The struggle between Islamo-Fascism and the US is NOT a war...in that sense. "War" may involve formal declarations or AUMF’s and will involve large-scale overt military actions, a traditional view of "war." Are you saying we are at "War" in that sense? Who shall we declare war upon, now?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Glenn Reynolds just posted a directive Of course, I complied. I double-down, damned DARE the liberals who comment here to read it. Yes, it contains partisan material that is definitely not in the Liberal Narrative, but that is not its point. Almost all of the partisan material listed are facts, not opinions, and anyone, regardless of persuasion, should be able to handle facts (exception: MK). I would love to see a comparable listing of facts from the left side, provided the lister did not reframe the question as a platform for the repetition of not pertinent LN talking points.
”INSTAPUNK HAS THOUGHTS on responsibility and the war on terror.
Read ’em.”
 
Written By: Notherbob2
URL: http://
Maybe its just me Mark, but I don’t want citizens walking away from the twin towers collapsing, the Pentagon getting hit and citizens causing a plane to crash before it could hit the White House and saying, "Nah, we’re not at war. No biggie. Everything is normal."
As I noted above, anyone who watched the events of 9/11, of Spain, of London and could walk away saying "nah, we’re not at war, everything is normal" is someone who could never get the point no matter how many times it’s made.

Even today, we get the Mikey Moore wing of the Dem party (which is the majority) saying things like "there is no terrorist threat" or "the threat is overexaggerated" or we get a Mona or Glasnost cruising by trying to tell us terror is no big deal because it’s not "an extential threat" - but try telling that to the 3,000 who did have their existance ended by that threat.

I understand that it’s Bush’s duty to try to reach as many as he can and make his case as forcefully as he can, but it gets to a level where the people are so f*cking stupid, or stubborn, or partisian that no level of forcefulness, spoon-feeding or dumbing down will make a difference.

 
Written By: Shark
URL: http://
To be blunt, it’s a dumb interpretation.
Funny, though, how everyone has to rush in and explain what he really meant, isn’t it? Or how in this sense or that sense, it doesn’t mean what it normally means.

Yup, more and more it seems that words don’t mean things ... at least not to the partisan.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I guess I’m just a libby Democrat, though I never knew it before, having voted for many Republicans.
You’re arguing about whether or not we’re at war and whether or not we should just go shopping. While you’re off creating and producing and keeping the economy humming, our government is engaged in such activities as torture. Perhaps it’s things like that Bush doesn’t want us to worry about while he’s off taking care of us.
So, is it a war between beheaders and torturers?
Do you even care what this war is about and what it is that we we’re defending?
Do any of you even care, as long as you’re off doing your own thing?
After reading these posts, I appreciate very much that money makes the world go around, but it seems to going around an empty hole. In which case, Al-Aueda has won!
 
Written By: Laime
URL: http://
Well lefties, nevermind. I got a pretty good response from Kieth Olbermann here. It seems that it is all President Bush’s fault.
 
Written By: Notherbob2
URL: http://
it is vitally important that people understand and buy into the war as a war.
That would involve being at war with somebody. Having a "war" against an object or a concept is longstanding normal politics - War on Drugs, War on Poverty, War on AIDS - just a way of keynoting a moral crusade by the state. Liberal opposition can look at this (Global War on Terror or a Global War on Islamofascism or whatever) and say it’s another one of them things.


The big difference from all these quasi-wars (except possibly the War on Drugs) is that this war consists of opposing a group of people who are motivated, intelligent and resoureful. If it is handled as a part time pursuit then they will mount somethingelse beyond 911 to demonstrate their capabilities.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Yup, more and more it seems that words don’t mean things ... at least not to the partisan.
Or President Bush is a sh*tty public speaker.

Don’t tell me that you’re gonna argue about that one!?
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
I want to be asked to sacrifice, since I can’t personally put my hands around a terrorist neck and choke him to death. I am angry, not fearful. I want to feel I have more to do than just bitch. I’m too old to volunteer.
 
Written By: VRB
URL: http://
I agree with both McQ and Joe.

I agree with McQ, because McQ is speaking to the inherent tension in the Republican message: at some times - as a rallying call to lambast liberals - they fill the air with apocalyptic cries of how the nation is at war: on the other hand, GWB has failed to successfully mobilize either society or the government to that view of daily crisis that is war. He hasn’t even run his own government that way.

On the other hand, I think it was inevitable that America cooled off, because, as Joe states, we’re not really at war. We are engaged in a long-term struggle that deserves as much seriousness as war, but we are not at war. When we are at war - in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example - the nation’s attitude swings round to something more like what the nationalists and trolls on here would appreciate.

On the other hand, I applaud GWB for the fact that, since actual war is the best way to polarize and militant-ize our society, he’s has refrained from starting one every time his poll numbers drop, or John McCain stands up to one of his power grabs.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
To put it in a little less more partisan terms - it may not be about what the government does, but about what the population experiences.

If you want to see radicalization of society, look at Lebanon right now, after extensive bombing and tanks on its territory. Or, look at Israeli society, with rockets landing on its heads daily. All reports from both places are that the locals are pretty angry.

On the other hand, Al-Quieda does not touch the daily lives of US citizens, as much as it might like to.

Thus...the country forgets, like any organism reconstitutes itself when truama does not continue. You can’t run a war on memories, though a lot of totalitarian governments try to.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Sam Osbourne:
From rebuilding Baghdad to New Orleans, to fixing Social Security to the borders, no mission ever accomplished, no high-water mark along which George W. Bush leaves footprints.
I remember the great World War II accomplishments: rebuilding Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki...

Those were the days when America accomplished things, my friends. Like when we rebuilt Kosovo.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
"when it is your desire that they believe we are not at war"

"But he said he didn’t want Americans to feel they were at war"

So what is the source for these words, and what do these words mean to a non-partisan?

 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Holy Mary, Mother of God... Glasnost and I agree, on something. Huuu’uuum this is an interesting twist of life...
On the other hand, I applaud GWB for the fact that, since actual war is the best way to polarize and militant-ize our society, he’s has refrained from starting one every time his poll numbers drop, or John McCain stands up to one of his power grabs.

Be careful Glasnost or McCain will some kind of bill of attainder against you.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Ok, as we unfortunately have a President who can mangle a thought when he gives speech or an interview, and we have an audience of which some are incapable of employing even simple logic an comprehension to understand his points (especially in this quote), here’s what the President intended to say:

"But my hope was after 9/11, most Americans wouldn’t walk around saying, My goodness, since we’re at war, we shouldn’t attempt to live a normal life. We shouldn’t invest."

Any logical and minimally charitable reading of the quote would come to the conclusion that the President was NOT saying thet we’re not at war, but his concern that the existence of the war would not so impact Americans’ behavior a to hurt our economy and impair our opportunity to succeed in winning the war.

Sigivald got this right at the start.
 
Written By: CalDevil
URL: http://
Or President Bush is a sh*tty public speaker.
I think that about sums it up. My wife really liked his 9/11 speech last night, though.
 
Written By: BrianOfAtlanta
URL: http://
McQ... the many posts from all different directions in this thread indicate one thing... our productive lives are going on as they should, which is mostly good.. and in spite of daily evidence emanating from everywhere... many people refuse to acknowledge that we really are in a war. They express that in their refusal to support the Gov efforts to fight the war, in their absolutely indefensible conspiracy theories and in their "divisiveness for divisiveness sake" attitudes.
Whether you like to hear Bush, or anyone say it or not... We are in a war, and it is a war that we cannot afford to lose, because it won’t be over with a treaty and "coming home".. that type of war is ancient history.
 
Written By: Ron
URL: http://
Whether you like to hear Bush, or anyone say it or not... We are in a war, and it is a war that we cannot afford to lose, because it won’t be over with a treaty and "coming home".. that type of war is ancient history.
Ron, I think the point is I do want him to say it. But he wasn’t saying it above.

And while it may have been him being him (as many have pointed out, a crappy speaker), its the attitude to which I object.

"You guys go on and lead your lives, invest, be normal, and we’ll take care of the war over here."

You can’t win any war that way. It requires a commitment by the people of the country and that commitment to see it through despite the hardship or suffering isn’t "normal" and isn’t dependent on normal things in life.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I don’t know if selective hearing is part of the problem, but I have heard Bush, and many others state emphatically that we are in a war, that the war is not an easy win, and that it will most definitely require a strong dedication to victory and sacrifice. I have heard those points many, many more times than the one statement (or concept contained)which is the focus of this thread. Any leadership role is a balancing act. Our leaders today have to balance the seriousness of the war against our lives which the war is trying to protect. Telling people to continue your lives, is key to the desired victory.. we need a strong and vibrant economy in order to continue to fight the war which has been described even by it’s detractors as "a necessary evil". I almost feel as though many of you are being Clintonian in your argument..i.e.. "what is the meaning of ’is’ ? We all, thank God, are not attorneys, nor should we live our lives pretending we are.
 
Written By: Ron
URL: http://
" but I have heard Bush, and many others state emphatically that we are in a war...,"

Yeah, me too, but evidently he has to say it every time he opens his mouth or it doesn’t count, sort of like Muslims saying "peace be unto him" every time they mention Mohammed. It’s becoming a religious thing, and we must all be appropriately pious.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Timactual.. I’m not sure I (nor you) understand what you’re saying. Bush knows we’re at war. Unfortunately, many others, including a good portion of the mainstream media don’t believe it. I believe we have two wars going on, the Global War on Terror, and the Schism War in the USA between people who are so deadset against Bush or anyone supporting him that they will not acknowledge the GWOT. In that situation, it is necessary to emphasize the fact that our country (and most of the free world) is in a shooting war for survival, or will it take more 9-11s, more Cole attacks, more Beirut Barracks to occur before people determine that on their own?
 
Written By: Ron
URL: http://
"But this is a different kind of war"

This is the lead sentence in the second paragraph of the excerpt. I do not have a degree in Linguistics or Semantics, but it seems pretty clear to me that he said we are at war. He did not say we were not at war, he did not say that he doesn’t want Americans to feel they are at war. What do you people want? What words should he say in every speech, press conference, etc? This is nit-picking at its worst. One sentence taken out of context; not only the context of one unscripted interview, of which we are only given excerpts and the interviewers interpretation, but also the context of five years of speeches, press conferences, etc. You want perfection, get religion.

And guess what, life goes on. Even during WWII people got drunk, got laid, told jokes, had parties, etc. IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO THINK AND SPEAK AT LENGTH OF THE WAR EVERY WAKING MOMENT.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
You are right, for you and me... you are absolutely correct. We do not have to "think and speak at length of the war every waking moment." Our elected officials, in particular the President of the United States, the person responsible for our foreign affairs, and sworn to insure the defense of our country... is not you and me. He IS HIRED BY YOU AND ME TO DO A JOB. If he (or someday possibly "she") feels that it is necessary to talk about war, or to talk about the economy, or to talk about immigration, FINE...it is their job to do so. I, for one, think that the war against terror is one of the most important things going on in the world, and our country today.. it bears being talked about. You don’t think you want to listen, you have the right to change the channel or go read a book, that’s what I do when I don’t want to see or hear what happens to be on.
 
Written By: Ron
URL: http://

 
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