Get a grip, Hugh!
Editor (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com)
RE: A trait most unbecoming Canadians by Hugh Segal (Institute for Research on Public Policy, Aug 22/04
No telling what the esteemed Mr. Segal was smoking or sipping when he wrote this, but as a friend, you ought to advise him to let things like this sit overnight and reread them (carefully!) before hitting the send button - unfortunately it has now been printed in the paper with the highest daily circulation in the country, if I recall my stats correctly. Heck, as a "friend" you ought not to have printed such obvious nonsense before having a chat with the man - but that's all water under the bridge now! How mortifying! Mr. Segal accuses others, in what can only be called a condescending way, of condescending to George Bush, and evidently identifies with that less-than-shining intellect - for, it is sad to say, reasons he has made obvious in this Grade 10 (D-) piece. Being "condescending" to those of greater intellect, and pontificating utter nonsense full of juvenile "reasoning" and pointing to "facts" in defence of such wrongheaded "reasoning" that those you are speaking to know to be nonsense, is usually way embarrassing.
All in all, however, this is rather an exemplaric piece showing various "fallacies of reasoning", and thus worthy of some short comments. For instance, it is largely based on "straw dog" rhetoric - that is, accusing others of saying something they did not say at all, but which is a weak sort of argument and easy to demolish, and then demolishing it, and declaring yourself a clever fellow for taking care of THAT opponent haha! And after the straw dogs have fled, Mr. Segal turns to outright bluster - making shaky sorts of arguments at best, but making them forthrightly and then backing them up with "facts" that most thinking, more "worldly" people know to be not true at all (actually quite a common technique of the "neocons", who rarely have anything like two solid facts to rub together to support their "ideas", but excel at shouting down the opposition) - another embarrassing thing to be caught out on, especially in a widely read newspaper!
"Yes, you see, I know for a fact that if you dye your hair blond, why all of your children will have blond hair too! This type of "acquired inheritance" was well proven by a Russian chap named Lamark, don't you know? heh heh!! I'm such a clever lad!" - well, what is an actually educated person to do when presented with such stuff, except smile embarrassedly and vow silently to never invite THIS chap for dinner again - I expect Mr. Segal will find fewer invitations in his box following this defence of Mr. Bush. But he should look on the bright side - he didn't much seem to care for his dining companions anyway, and he'll have more time to surf around the net and start learning how the world actually works. If he's interested.
Anyway. Let us parse a few of Mr. Segal's words - good practice for those finding their way around the kind of stuff found all too frequently in the Canadian "media". He begins by saying that his esteemed dinner companions would not vote for George Bush were they living in America because they find him a rather intellectually challenged sort - and castigates them for being "smug", pointing out that Tony Blair is a rather sharper knife - without actually explaining what on earth Tony Blair has to do with voting (or not voting, as the case may be) for George Bush, or Mr. Bush's intellectual capacities (or lack thereof, as the case may be).
One assumes that he must feel this is a valid connection because Blair supported Bush's little excursion into Iraq last year - but wait a second now - at first he was angry, he said, at his co-diners because they apparently said that George Bush is stupid and wouldn't vote for him on that basis (paraphrasing, but I'll defend my thesaurus any day if Mr. Segal takes exception to my choice of words - I think I could probably come up with a few quotes, as well...), not because he invaded Iraq - isn't that it??? Here - he says it himself, in his own words - "...The bias clearly conveyed is that frankly, the president of the United States is not all that bright, nor well-read, nor worldly...." - there, not a word about not voting for George because he invaded Iraq, or anything like that, just the "not bright, well-read or worldly" bit (and quite frankly, it's hard to imagine many credible people challenging those assertions). Hmmmm. This is sort of the "shifting goalposts PLUS straw dogs" idea or something - I don't like George because he's not too bright - but that is silly of me because his friend Tony is quite a clever chap? I guess I must not be too bright myself - I don't really get the connection here.
But let's soldier on! There are many more pickings here for the lazy deconstructionist! (Even George would like this job, as you don't have to be particularly clever to pick out the inconsistencies Mr. Segal spreads so "liberally" around - haha small joke there)
At one point our Mr. Segal accuses his dinner companions of shifting ground when he presents them with his powerful arguments, such as the clever "but Tony is pretty smart" gambit described above - but they couldn't possibly shift as fast as our Hugh on this little Aliconian ramble which should surely be relegated to the nearest rabbit hole - he likely realizes that his ground is not only soft, but about to open up under him if he doesn't get himself off somewhere else pretty quick - even straw teeth could rip his "arguments" apart and still have an appetite for something a little firmer to dig into. Pretty sad, when you think of it - when you make up the words for both sides of the "argument", and still have trouble keeping ahead of your "opponents"!
Actually it's not the fact that Bush is stupid that bothers one - there's a lot of people out there who would never consider applying for MENSA, not so worldly or well read, but many of them are very nice folk nonetheless, and I wouldn't have any great objection to many such folk as a "leader", as long as I felt them to be morally sound, and well-intentioned, and smart enough at least to have some good honest advisors around them. Bush, however, seems to be of the "I'm so stupid I don't even realise that everyone else out there is a LOT smarter than me and sees through my lies, and I am furthermore so freaking stupid and arrogant that I think I'm smarter than they are!!!" gang (the neocon ranks seem to have quite a few of this particular abhorrent sub-species), and is not at all shy about showing it - but when you're the president of the United States of America, and undertaking monstrously destructive policies all over the world, and at least part of the reason you're doing this is that you're too freaking stupid to know any better - people get on to it fast. If he was just flippin burgers down at the local greasy spoon - which is about all he could aspire to, as far as can be determined, if he came from some sort of middle-class family and had to make his way on his own intelligence and smarts and work habits in general - and was just "aw shucks"-in the boys after work with his various fantasies about how the world works - well, he'd probably be more widely liked, or at least tolerated - I've known plenty of his type in the beer-rooms of my youth, and they could be amusing at times - but bombing the hell out of other countries, and killing tens of thousands of people, and lying brazenly about your reasons for doing so, is not amusing, not at all. When he's being the figurehead for some of the most destructive policies ever carried out by the US government, and wandering around spouting great wisdoms like "They hate us because of our freedom!" and evidently believing it, or that "god" told him he had a mission to drive the infidels from Iraq, or bomb them, or whatever idiotic thing he said - well, it isn't very funny at all, and behaving that stupidly and ignorantly and arrogantly does NOT make people like you - and when they are asked why, they are as likely as not to answer that they don't much like your stupidity, as that quality of your character sort of dominates the impression of those around you who are forced to watch you, although there may well be many other reasons as well.
For myself, I don't like George Bush at all either, but it isn't directly because of his stupidity - it's because he has sold his wretched soul to the PNAC (he's evidently been selling whatever there is of that shriveled thing to the highest bidder for most of his life), and is their willing front man as they undertake their invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and wherever else they plan on going - Iran looks to be next, by their talk. But to come to a single dominant reason, I don't like George Bush because he lies, and lies, and lies in the service of evil men with evil goals - and brazenly lies again and tries to rewrite history to deny he ever even MADE the worst of his lies! - and he KNOWS that we know he lies, and doesn't care! He looks right into that television camera over and over and over, and lies and lies and lies. And I have a GREAT dislike for people like that, people who lie a lot, people who try to do me wrong with their lies. For a Canadian comparison, the name Mulroney just SPRINGS to mind for some reason (the name Harris isn't far behind), someone Mr. Segal is well familiar with. Do we remember the famous appellation attached to that man? That's right - Lyin Brian. He wasn't very popular with Canadians either - although few would accuse him of the same degree of stupidity as George Bush must live with forever. But his intelligence did not save him from the dislike of Canadians, when he showed that his moral values, as are those of Bush, were on a level with the very worst parts of humanity.
It's not only the lies and other moral shortcomings of these people either - it's the fact that they are destroying our country with this kind of behaviour. Not only are we poorer financially as they loot our national treasuries and sell off our assets to their wealthy friends and turn hundreds of billions of tax dollars over to their rich "investor" friends through things like the national debt scam, but the character traits of the political and business leaders of a country spread throughout the society, and we are very much a LESS kind, LESS gentle, LESS caring, LESS civil society with these kind of people at the helm, people who promote lies and greed and selfishness and corruption and violence and "F*** the poor and helpless" and "ME FIRST" attitudes - we are squeezed, and see our politicians behaving like lowlifes, and as we lose our communities and security and infrastructure we start to get bitter and ugly inside ourselves, we start to drive more aggressively, we stop smiling at our neighbours in the corner store, our hearts start shrivelling up too, we start resenting anyone who is poor and looking down on anyone "below" us, we stop sharing, we start saying things like "get rid of the damn (pick some powerless minority) and the country will be fine", we start locking our doors at night even in small towns, we start thinking about privatising health care - if poor people can't afford it tough why should I pay for them? - and on and on and on, as the "leaders" lead us into a not brave, not new world, but backwards to a much poorer world.
But back to Segal's column. Has this man no idea of history? Does he read nothing but the National Prevaricator? Is he as stupid as the man he defends, or simply lying in the service of the Canadian branch of the PNAC propagandists (that'd be your CCCE)? It's not entirely clear - but it does not entirely matter either - he speaks such obvious, arrant nonsense.
He seems to believe the Bush lie repeated so often that Hussein did not cooperate with the weapons inspectors, when the reverse is KNOWN to be the truth - it's well documented that Hussein was 95%+ disarmed by the fall of 2002, and the UN inspectors were going where they wished, and NONE of the inspectors were reporting even the possibility of the fabled "WMD"!
He goes on to say that this failure to find the WMD is no big problem - IF Hussein had of had them, he might have done bad stuff! - and the logical progression of that is not something we really want to be setting as policy, I don't think - an aggressor can accuse ANYONE of bad stuff, and invade them - if the reasons later prove to be false, or outright lies - heck, we can just say we THOUGHT they were going to do bad stuff, and that made it all right - so get over it!!! Man, the Germans at Nuremberg would have loved this line of reasoning. Mr. Segal refers to the Russians NOT finding atomic weapons after defeating Germany in 1945, and being happy because the darn ol Germans surely would have used them - as if he is making a clever point! Well, isn't it equally valid, then, to say it sure is fortunate Mr. Segal didn't have a gun the night of this dinner party, for his anger makes it evident he would have shot all his dinner companions - ergo he's a horrible murderer (in his heart!) and we better pre-emptively get him locked up!!!
Mr. Segal talks about intelligence, again exposing his lack of knowledge (not to mention singular lack of such quality himself, as he continually demonstrates throughout) - he says one can "safely assume" (!!) the Americans had no prior knowledge of Pearl Harbour - but it has been proven quite conclusively that Roosevelt did indeed have prior knowledge of the planned Japanese bombing (had, indeed, more or less forced their attack by cutting off Japanese oil supplies from the Philippines) - and sent the best American ships out to sea and let the Japanese attack proceed in order to galvanize the reluctant American public into war!!! Not a "conspiracy theory" but a fact!!!!
He also puts forth the astounding idea that US "intelligence" "missed"!!!! the forthcoming Iraq attack of Kuwait!!!!! - words fail, they really do! - it has again been proven beyond doubt that the US, far from "missing" the attack on Kuwait, effectively approved it beforehand!!! - after which, of course, they used it as the excuse they were looking for to invade Iraq.
Enough, enough. One eventually tires of fish in a barrel, the punch-drunk boxer to dazed to even realise he is unable to defend himself, his best shots are but shadow shots, and would have trouble even knocking over a shadow. Let us proceed to Mr. Segal's closing remarks, and bring it to a finale.
"...Nothing so condemns Canadians to global irrelevance than this snide capacity to look down on people with whom we disagree...." - more utter blindness on Mr. Segal's part - the truth is, Canada is condemned to global irrelevance as long as we do as we have been doing since the traitor Mulroney (and his handlers) decided that the only course for Canada to follow was as a US lapdog - most of the civilized world does not LIKE the US, or agree with what it is doing in the world or has been for some time - and thus they do not much care for (nor trust) little poodle-like sycophants of the US like Segal and others think is the best we can do here in Canada - Blair will never live down his "lap-dog" appellation that he has sported since he followed Bush to Iraq, making up his own lies to add to Bush's - Segal evidently has little use for Chretien, but it was Chretien's refusal to follow the US into Iraq that will be his most important legacy, overshadowing the many problems and scandals with his government - a legacy which will not cast a very bright light, of course, if Martin goes ahead as it seems to be planning and changes course, and signs the so-called "missile defence treaty" - which has little to do with "defence" and a great deal more to do with American imperialism.
The Star notes that Segal is a "former Conservative party strategist" - odd it doesn't also note that Canadians rejected those policies with the biggest defeat ever handed to a sitting government in Canadian history in 1993. Old ideas never die, I guess, as the old saying goes. But Canadians didn't want them in 93, and they don't want them now - which may have something to do with Mr. Segal's poor experiences at dinner parties.
Mr. Segal closes by noting, somewhat condescendingly, that "one" ought to be careful with whom one dines. One could put that the other way around equally - others, too, obviously ought be careful whom they invite for dinner. Neanderthals might be interesting in museums, but they do not usually contribute much worthwhile to a modern dinner conversation where people are discussing ways to get along together, rather than how to build bigger clubs and apply them to more heads, as the Bush-followers seem to be doing. We should leave Mr. Segal and his pro-Bush, pro PNAC ideas well out in the cold, where they belong, far from the tables of civilized peoples everywhere.