Friday, September 28, 2007

Phony Intellectuals

image credit: U.S. Army

The caption reads:

Lt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III (right), commander, XVIII Airborne Corps, Col. Jeffrey L. Bannister (center), commander, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and Iraqi Brig. Gen. Abdulah plan operations near Baghdad, Sept. 11. The Army is strained by six years of war and needs support, Gen. George W. Casey Jr. told Congress, Sept. 26.

One thing I've learned from looking at the sitemeter for this blog is that not many readers of an article check the links. You could say anything and get away with it as far as some folks are concerned. Of course, most writers use links to buttress their points. In rare cases, though, I think people count on the fact that very few will bother to click those links. I ran into such a thing today.

Defending Rush Limbaugh's indefensible slurs of "phony" soldiers who happen to disagree with him, phony intellectual Michael Goldfarb wrote this:

The folks on the Left are beside themselves today--thinking that by dint of a truncated quote, they will succeed in shutting down Rush Limbaugh and taking him off the air. Before lining up next to the folks from Crooks and Liars, FireDogLake, Media Matters, ThinkProgress, Huffington Post, and the rest, at least read the full transcript. In Limbaugh's comments after the exchange quoted by the left, he makes clear he is referring to people like Jesse MacBeth--a 'phony soldier' the left would understandably like to forget.

What Limbaugh Said

I left the link to Limbaughs' transcript embedded in the quote. Here's the quote from that very link. I've left in a good deal of irrelevant nonsense about WMDs and IEDs to show that this really isn't "truncated":

RUSH: There's a lot more than that that they don't understand. The next guy that calls here I'm going to ask them, "What is the imperative of pulling out? What's in it for the United States to pull out?" I don't think they have an answer for that other than, "When's he going to bring the troops home? Keep the troops safe," whatever.


RUSH: It's not possible intellectually to follow these people.

CALLER: No, it's not. And what's really funny is they never talk to real soldiers. They pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and spout to the media.

RUSH: The phony soldiers.

CALLER: Phony soldiers. If you talk to any real soldier and they're proud to serve, they want to be over in Iraq, they understand their sacrifice and they're willing to sacrifice for the country.

RUSH: They joined to be in Iraq.

CALLER: A lot of people.

RUSH: You know where you're going these days, the last four years, if you sign up. The odds are you're going there or Afghanistan, or somewhere.

CALLER: Exactly, sir. My other comment, my original comment, was a retort to Jill about the fact we didn't find any weapons of mass destruction. Actually, we have found weapons of mass destruction in chemical agents that terrorists have been using against us for a while now. I've done two tours in Iraq, I just got back in June, and there are many instances of insurgents not knowing what they're using in their IEDs. They're using mustard artillery rounds, VX artillery rounds in their IEDs. Because they didn't know what they were using, they didn't do it right, and so it didn't really hurt anybody. But those munitions are over there. It's a huge desert. If they bury it somewhere, we're never going to find it.

How Long Is Too Long for Victory?

Limbaugh's caller is quite clearly referring to the soldiers (plural) who disagree with his opinions about Iraq. Limbaugh echoed that sentiment. He wasn't referring to Jesse Macbeth, who falsely claimed to be an Iraq veteran who had seen atrocities, because there was only one of him. It turns out Macbeth hadn't been anywhere near Iraq. In fact, he never finished his first enlistment. We remember Jesse Macbeth, Michael. We also know what association fallacy is, which seems to be more than Goldfarb's readers are capable of. We know when someone won't argue with the facts, and instead chooses to smear the people he disagrees with.

That, and we can click on those little bits of blue type.

The reason Goldfarb resorts to such guilt by association is that he wants you to forget about all of the soldiers and former soldiers who disagree with Limbaugh and Goldfarb. As a reminder, here are just a few of them, with quotes:

Patrick Murphy, who served in Iraq as a U.S. Army captain before being elected to Congress from Pennsylvania:

Mr. Speaker, an open-ended strategy that ends in more faceless road-side bombs in Baghdad and more street-corner memorials in America, is not one that I will support.

This is what Major General Richard Batiste (Ret.), who commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq, had to say:

The current ‘surge’ in Iraq is too little, too late. The so-called surge really amounts to nothing more than a minor reinforcement, a number which represents all that our military could muster.

Major General Paul D. Eaton (Ret.), who was responsible for reorganizing Iraqi security forces in 2003-2004, wrote this to President Bush:

Respectfully, as your former commander on the ground, your administration did not listen to our best advice. In fact, a number of my fellow Generals were forced out of their jobs, because they did not tell you what you wanted to hear -- most notably General Eric Shinseki, whose foresight regarding troop levels was advice you rejected, at our troops' peril.

In an extraordinary op-ed to the New York Times that was largely ignored by the likes of Goldfarb, seven enlisted men who were still serving in Iraq at the time wrote:

What matters is the experience of the local citizenry and the future of our counterinsurgency. When we take this view, we see that a vast majority of Iraqis feel increasingly insecure and view us as an occupation force that has failed to produce normalcy after four years and is increasingly unlikely to do so as we continue to arm each warring side.

One of those soldiers was wounded before the letter was published, and two others were killed in Iraq in a traffic accident.

They don't sound like phony soldiers to me. They sound like soldiers who disagree with the war they were sent to fight.

UPDATE (Sept. 29): Army of Dude delivers a wonderful satirical smackdown of Rush and the ditto heads.

UPDATE 2 (Sept. 29): Now I'm wishing I'd quoted even more of that Limbaugh transcript. The page was edited today (Sept. 29, 2007 1:45:45PM according to Firefox, and the byline now says Sept. 29, 2007, even though this conversation happened on Sept. 26), and all of a sudden we're being invited by wingnuts to view the transcript. There's a long speech by Limbaugh at the end, where he mentions Jesse Macbeth. I sure don't remember that from before. Seems to me it went on for some time about some other thing. Note how that section doesn't look like the rest of the transcript. It's at the bottom, by the way.

Even by this revised transcript, Limbaugh is clearly exaggerating, because he only names Macbeth, but claims multiple cases of "the left" lionizing fake soldiers. This guy is so full of shit that he can't even make up a logically consistent lie.

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