Monday, December 07, 2009

A Holiday Research Question

Has anyone ever actually objected to you saying "Merry Christmas?" Have you ever actually seen anyone object?

I'd really like to know.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

My Christmas Present to the Wingnuts

Latest Newspaper Column:

I really do like writing this column, most of the time. But there are some annoyances.

Like, for instance, the snarky e-mails I get demanding to know why I haven't written about this or that supposed atrocity some supposed liberal has supposedly committed. "Why don't you write," they sneer, "about that thing that Alec Baldwin/Michael Moore/wingnut bogeyman du jour said or did? Huh? Huh?"

These annoy me for a number of reasons. For one thing, they most often turn out to be total fiction. Mainly, though, I'm annoyed by the implication that, because I'm not writing about something that has someone else's knickers in a wad, I'm some kind of partisan shill. Nothing could be further from the truth. Shills get paid much better than I do.

But, this being the season of loving and giving, I am going to give some of you what you most desire. I'm going to say something critical about Michael Moore and some of my fellow liberals.

Moore recently published an open letter to President Obama on his Web site, claiming that the president was betraying his supporters by ordering more U.S. Troops to Afghanistan.

"If you go to West Point tomorrow night," Moore wrote, "and tell us you are increasing, rather than withdrawing, the troops in Afghanistan, you are the new war president. Pure and simple. And with that you will do the worst possible thing you could do -- destroy the hopes and dreams so many millions have placed in you."

And it wasn't just Moore. After Obama's West Point speech, the cry went up across the liberal blogosphere: "We are betraaaaayed!"

It wasn't coming from everyone (and anyone who thinks "liberals" all believe one thing should try actually reading the arguments that erupt on some left-leaning blogs sometime). But there were a significant number of comments like this one: "Mr. President, we elected you to end these wars, not continue them!"

It wasn't just liberals either. Some fellow who claimed to be an ex-Marine bravely accosted my wife and teenage daughter at a gas station over the holiday and began haranguing them about the Obama sticker on the car, saying, "How about all the broken promises, huh? He promised to bring all the troops home. How about that, huh?"

Uh, folks, I don't know whom you were seeing up there on the podium in the 2008 election, but the guy I voted for said this on the campaign trail:

-- "I will finally have a comprehensive strategy to finish the job in Afghanistan, with more troops." (Sept. 26, 2008.)

-- "We have seen Afghanistan worsen, deteriorate. We need more troops there. We need more resources there. ... I think we need more troops. I've been saying that for over a year now." (Sept. 9, 2008.)

-- "This is a war that we have to win. I will send at least two additional combat brigades to Afghanistan ... We need more troops, more helicopters, more satellites, more Predator drones in the Afghan border region." (July 15, 2008.)

So I have to say, I'm more than a little bemused by the people who are crying out that they've been sold a bill of goods by a Barack Obama that exists only in their heads. You can certainly raise concerns about the wisdom of escalating the war, but please stop trying to rewrite history. Leave that for the wingnuts, who were for troop surges before they were against them.

My opinion on the commitment of more troops? I think it's something that should have been done years ago, instead of invading a country that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. And I'm happy to see that the troop escalation also includes an escalation in the number of civilian economic and development experts going to that unhappy country.

That, more than anything else, gives me hope that this one will turn out differently from Vietnam. I do know that we can't just walk away like we did after the Russians pulled out, and leave Afghanistan to the mercy of religion-maddened hillbillies like the Taliban and nuts like Al-Qaeda.

In times like these, I feel like that guy in the old song: "Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am."