Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Holiday Weekend Short Takes

Back from a weekend break, and time to play a Labor Day Weekend bit of catchup!

Hyman Likes His Issues Simple

Hyman goes after British Member of Parliament George Galloway as a means of mocking the views of “the Angry Left,” of which he suggests Galloway is representative.

Calling him an “apologist for Saddam Hussein” among other things, Hyman suggests that Galloway’s recent comments about the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict show that he’s a “nutcase.”

Some problems with Hyman’s characterization of Galloway: first, Galloway was speaking out against Saddam Hussein back when our current Secretary of Defense was literally shaking hands with him. Galloway did question the sanctions against Iraq, not because he supported Hussein, but because he felt they were causing pointless misery for innocent Iraqis (a conclusion that is backed up with plenty of evidence).

As for Israel, Galloway said that America’s supplying of long range weaponry to Israel complicates our call for other countries in the region to give up such weapons themselves. He also said that in many people’s eyes, Israel itself is a terrorist state. Finally, he stated that Hezbollah was not a terrorist organization.

While no one can argue that Hezbollah contains within it terrorists, Galloway is right that it can’t simply be written off as a terrorist organization. After all, it has many seats in Lebanon’s parliament, thanks to the very elections that the Bush administration has championed as a sign of freedom in the Mideast. It also provides a network of social services in the country.

And it’s simply a fact that supplying Israel with weapons (and tacitly condoning its construction of nuclear weapons) complicates any argument we make for disarming other countries in the region. It doesn’t mean we’re wrong; but Galloway is right in pointing out the difficulty.

And one cannot argue seriously that Israel is *not* seen as a terrorist state by most people in the Mideast. Again, one doesn’t need to think that it is to recognize the validity of Galloway’s point. Given Israel’s history of not abiding by U.N. orders, of using assassination as a political tool, the kidnapping and holding without trial of thousands of Palestinians, it’s not hard to see why many in the region find the U.S.’s distinction between Israel and terrorist states as sophistry.

The problem with Galloway from Hyman’s perspective isn’t his over-the-top rhetoric (which he certainly uses) or sometimes extreme positions (which he certainly takes), but the fact that he points out the complicated nature of the Mideast issue and asks us to look at it from points of view other than our own. For most of us, that’s considered basic critical thinking. For Hyman, it makes someone a “nutcase.”

More Mailbag Cowardice.

This past Saturday,
Hyman again participated in a round of self-congratulation by reading several letters complimenting him for his take on the “Angry Left.” Once again, Hyman studiously avoided any reasonable email to the contrary. One would think that if the Left was so doggone angry and out of touch, he could deftly take even a rational argument apart with no problems, thus exposing them even further.

Gosh, I wonder why he doesn’t do that?

Yet Another Straw Man.

Hyman repeats the straw man argument that’s become the default tactic of the right in defending Bush’s N.S.A. wiretapping plot, framing it in terms of whether or not one favors “listening in on terrorists” or not. Of course, that’s not the issue. Everyone favors eavesdropping on terrorists; what they don’t agree with is the unchecked monitoring of any and all phone calls in a search for possible terrorist calls.

Hyman cites a
recent Harris Poll, claiming that the N.S.A. plot is a non-issue, given that 60% approve of it. What Hyman doesn’t tell you is that the same poll also noted that less than half of the respondents felt they were well informed about the issue. The poll also showed overwhelming desire for the president to seek Congressional support for any move that might involve jeopardizing people’s rights (e.g., intercepting phone calls, monitoring bank records, etc.).

More to the point, while conservatives have touted polls that suggested support for the N.S.A. eavesdropping, when the question specifically mentioned the issue of warrants, most
respondents in several polls said they opposed eavesdropping on phone calls without getting a warrant.

The most egregious rhetorical move Hyman makes in this commentary, though, is when he says:

Terrorism continues to worry Americans. The question is: Do most Americans
support fighting terrorist fanatics to end terrorism or do they favor the cut,
run and hide tactics favored by the Angry Left? Harris never asked that specific

Oh, but many polls *have* asked, Mark. True, they actually asked the question in a neutral and accurate way rather than using empty G.O.P. talking points like “cut and run,” but in fact most Americans want to reduce U.S. troop levels or remove all troops within a year. Most Americans favor putting in a timetable to guide the withdrawal of troops. And by the way, overwhelming majorities of Americans disapprove of the way George Bush is handling Iraq, think the war was a mistake, and believe the war has made us less safe, not more safe, from terrorist attacks.

Of course, I’m sure from your point of view, 2/3 of the citizenry “hates America,” right, Mark?

Hyman Lies and Blames the Victims

Hyman defends the indefensible by lying and attacking. Rather than admitting what’s now been well documented, Hyman defends the Bush response to Hurricane Katrina by attacking Louisiana Governor Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Nagin. Oh, and the people of New Orleans themselves, saying that “New Orleans citizens and cops stole new cars from dealerships and they looted wide screen TVs and $200 sneakers.”

Classy, Mark. Real classy. Trying to blame Blanco and Nagin for the disastrous response to Katrina has become a parlor game for those on the radical right, and while there are certainly things both could have and should have done differently, most of the claims made by partisan conservatives
have been debunked. Hyman repeats the canard that Blanco didn’t actually request aid from the federal government, just money. Too bad Blanco’s letter to Bush is in the public domain and shows her requesting plenty of help, including debris removal.

Thanks to the lies of Hyman,
not to mention officials in the Bush administration, another casualty of Hurricane Katrina was the truth.

And those are the Catch-Up Counterpoints.


At 12:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for reviewing all the "Hyman Highlights". Good God, from your report, it seems that he is really going down the extremist route with his dumb rhetoric.

How does this serve any positive purpose? It only raises the blood pressure of reasonable and unreasonable people.

What a disservice. I miss the bad ol' 50's, where common courtesy to one another was a greater priority than endlessly "scoring points".

ick ick ick.


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