Credit Where Credit’s Due

Alex Knapp

Alex Knapp writes about pretty much everything under the sun, including politics, art, religion, philosophy, sports, music, culture, and science.

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65 Responses

  1. b-psycho says:

    Simple, direct statement of the point that things are currently being done in our name that if done to us would have us blowing stuff up in retaliation too…excellent.

    Somehow the dramatic tone, which should make it cheesy, sells it even better.  “WOLVERINES!!!…oh fish, that invading army is US?!?”Report

  2. Not a bad concept– try to think about things from someone else’s perspective– but ow, my eyes and ears.

    Not every word needs to pop up on the screen. And that voiceover guy starting absolutely losing it as it went along.

    It’s worth noting that the ad lies about Pres. Obama. He said in the campaign that he wanted to wind down our occupation in Iraq and focus on Afghanistan. It’s perfectly reasonable to say that was a bad idea, and that Americans were wrong to vote for him, but it’s false to say that he “changed his mind” once in office. On Iraq & Afghanistan, he did what he said he was going to do.Report

  3. North says:

    Very clever ad for sure.Report

  4. Rufus F. says:

    Well, if we can trust anyone to be concerned about what sorts of things are being done in their name, it’s Ron Paul.Report

  5. Tod Kelly says:

    This strikes me as the kind of ad that will ring so very true to the people who already believe this, and make those that don’t dig in their heels even more.Report

  6. BlaiseP says:

    Complete bullshit from top to bottom.

    Imagine America had been taken over by a religious sect and stoned women for adultery.   I really should write up a rejoinder to this Crock o’ Merde.Report

    • BradP in reply to BlaiseP says:

      Imagine America had been taken over by a religious sect and stoned women for adultery.   I really should write up a rejoinder to this Crock o’ Merde.

      It does use “somewhere in the middle of Texas” as its repeated example.Report

    • BradP in reply to BlaiseP says:

      How about this:

      Imagine Mexico launched predator drone strikes on Pheonix public facilities in response to the activities of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s department.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to BradP says:

        We don’t have to imagine such a scenario.   Mexican drug lords, you know, the people who actually run Mexico, are sending their gangitos north to shoot folks at point blank range.Report

        • Kolohe in reply to BlaiseP says:

          But not white people (for the most part)Report

          • BlaiseP in reply to Kolohe says:

            Oh I dunno.   Tell that to the family of US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry,.Report

            • Kolohe in reply to BlaiseP says:

              Flogging Terry’s death for political gain is a very right wing thing; I’m surprised you brought that up.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Kolohe says:

                What, me?  Conservative?   The guy’s dead and buried.   He was an American, he was white and he was shot in the back.    I wouldn’t care if he was a Martian.   Well, he was from Michigan, which is pretty close.

                I am so goddamn sick and tired of all this Wishful Thinking about how things would be Ever So Much Better if only we followed some protectionist simpleton down the road a few miles.   I am presented with some Imaginary Scenario where Mexico is flying drones strikes into this country.    I respond with the reality:  that trouble is already coming over the Mexican border.   And now, mirabile dictu, you’re Very Surprised I brought up Agent Brian Terry’s murder.

                That’s the problem with these Imaginary Scenarios like Wicked Ol’ Chinese Troops on the streets of Dallas.   China has no wish to destroy its greatest debtor, we’re a good customer and the ties which bind us might be a bit constraining at times that might be all for the good when the sum of vectors has been computed.

                Facts don’t take sides.   I see no particularly good reason to pretend open conflict between the cronies of the manifestly corrupt Mexican government cannot be compared to the cronies of the manifestly corrupt Pakistani regime.Report

              • Kolohe in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Which is also odd, because that’s *exactly* what this ad does.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Kolohe says:

                We can safely ignore all these Hypothetical Horrors.   The world is chock full of real horrors, enough to keep our minds constantly occupied.   Ron Paul is saying nothing new here:  a hundred Wishful Thinkers have said it all before, going back to Jefferson and his Avoiding Foreign Entanglements.   Reality bites.

                “Sing tirra-la, sing tirra-lay
                The Wuggly Ump is far away.”Report

              • Nob Akimoto in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Is this the Jefferson of the Barbary Wars and the Louisiana Purchase?Report

              • Kolohe in reply to BlaiseP says:

                And this is why the Neo-cons will continue to hold sway within the Republican party, only being held at bay and out of power by how the varying flows and ebbs of the economy share timing with Presidential election cycles.Report

              • Nob Akimoto in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Also of the Embargo Act…huge huge expansion of federal power…Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Heh, Nob.  Yep, the very same.   So much for all this fine talk about Foreign Entanglements.   Napoleon needed some money for cannon and Jefferson happily stepped in to buy the Spanish dominions in North America at fire sale prices.    Didn’t hurt that Napoleon’s brother in law was running Spain at the time either.

                All these cretinous hobbits who think America ought to stay home and mind its business and look askance at the Striders at the Prancing Pony have no idea what awaits them in the dark.Report

              • Kolohe in reply to BlaiseP says:

                What  exactly *did* King Aragorn do with Mordor after the Tower fell?Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Seems to me the point of the story wasn’t the fall of Mordor but the disgrace of the Shire and its cleansing.   The fall of Isengard would lead to Sharkey travelling far afield to find the Shire unprotected from those aforementioned Rangers who were otherwise occupied at Minas Tirith.Report

              • Kolohe in reply to BlaiseP says:

                It would seem to me then that this comes around to the Paulish, Paleo view (which just to clarify again, is not really my view) – sending your best boys to the far corners of the earth leaves the homeland vulnerable to an incursion from a destabilized southern neighbor.

                (but, I wouldn’t want to be within a hundred leagues of Samwise Gamgee if some Sackville-Baggins said Rose had a fat ass.)Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Tolkien was clear enough on the subject of the Shire and its provincial bumpkins.    Nobody really did them any favors by protecting them from the reality of evil.   Even Gandalf erred by hoping to hide the Ring of Power in this idyllic little backwater.   It could not last.

                LOTR is a tale of failure and the passing away of greatness.   Every time Frodo is tempted by the Ring, he succumbs.  The camera pans up from its tight shot of the round door at Bag End into an ever-enlarging vista pointing east.    From atop the Black Tower, Sauron’s eye roams to and fro, ultimately distracted from the Ring by the feints and taunts of the sons of enemies long-defeated.

                Our boys who fought in the Hindu Kush died avenging an enemy we did not have to make.   America has no view of the long-term future, no sense of its obligations to the Pashtun men I knew who bravely fought the Russians on our behalf.   Perhaps this is a function of our mode of government:  at least every eight years a new crew is in charge.   My earnest prayer for Afghanistan is really a prayer for ourselves, that we will not forget those men or the those Afghans who fought beside us as we have done with many who fought alongside us in other wars, notably the Hmong in Laos.Report

        • BradP in reply to BlaiseP says:

          Gotta say that doesn’t sound anything remotely like the scenario I asked you to imagine.  Is your imaginer broke?Report

    • Kolohe in reply to BlaiseP says:

      I mean, yeah, it’s missing a lot of subtlety and nuance (troops in Afghanistan are different than troops in Germany are different than troops in Japan are different than troops in other parts of Japan), but in terms of moving the current typical non-Huntsman foreign policy conservation, I welcome the input.Report

    • E.D. Kain in reply to BlaiseP says:

      BlaiseP – if America had been taken over by American dictators or theocrats I still wouldn’t want Chinese troops to come and liberate us. How you can be so bright and say such unbelievably bizarre things is beyond me.Report

      • Tom Van Dyke in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        That’s an extremely promising line of inquiry, Erik.  I’m trying to think of an historical counterexample and I can’t, where one nation was “liberated” by military boots on their ground from another nation, and was eternally grateful.

        The South Koreans, even with the horror across the DMZ as an instant reminder, remain ingrates.  The French, for a brief while after we freed them from Hitler, but then they just went back to being French again.

        Dunno how Kosovo is shaking out.  Don’t hear much one way or the other. Should already have built a statue of Bill Clinton by now, though.  Ingrates.



        • Katherine in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          The French helped liberate you from the British, and even had the courtesy to pull out their forces at the end of the war and let America sort out the chaotic situation under the Articles of Confederation by itself rather than sticking around to impose a stable and secure government by gun barrel, and yet you deride them.


      • BlaiseP in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        Heh.  I love the word Liberation.   It’s always used by invaders to justify their actions, as if the folks whose country is being invaded were just begging for help from outside.

        No, war is never a process of liberation.   It’s a process of eviction.   Our invasion of Afghanistan — well, let me give you a case in point.   Early on in the war, an SF team had set up shop in a village, doing their best to keep the boat from rocking.   They knew the Taliban was watching them but they didn’t want to annoy the villagers.   Along comes a unit from 82 ABN, fresh out of Iraq:  they read the same intel and went through that burg like a dose of salts, doing house to house searches, kicking in doors and the like, completely destroying all the goodwill that SF unit had built up over time.   The SF team had to stop them.

        I suppose I do sound bizarre.  To crooked eyes, truth wears a wry face.   I don’t sugarcoat the facts or pretend that ideas trump those facts.   There’s only one reality to war:   it’s what happens when politicians stop doing their jobs.   It is the natural state of mankind to oppress his fellow man and only the rule of law stops him from doing so.   Spare me any of your finger-wagging, this I do know, having seen these people crowded into the miserable refugee camps at Jalozai and in Kabul, setting up the first women’s clinic in the country, the Taliban are the enemy of the ordinary people of Afghanistan and we are well within our rights to annihilate them, not for what they do to us but for what they do to their own.   Bizarre.   You kill me, dude.   Be not merely good, E.D..  Be good for something.   Standing up for the rights of man, and women, in the face of pitiless religious tyranny is no evil.   That evil came knocking at our door, right downtown, and we are entirely within our rights, yea even obligation, to rout it out from the face of the earth.Report

  7. Katherine says:


    Just kidding, this is awesome.  Is that actually authorized by the campaign (it doesn’t have the “I approve this message” thing at the end) or it is just made by Paul supporters?  Either way, pretty cool, if a bit repetitive.

    Anyone else a tad confused that a conservative is running a campaign with the tagline (and has published a book with the name of) “Revolution”?  Burke would not approve.Report

  8. Katherine says:

    Seriously, empathy for people in foreign countries is something severely lacking among most of the politicians and talking heads in America.  (<i>Sympathy</i>, purported or real, among liberal hawks is more common, giving rise to the “humanitarian interventionism”/RTP arguments, which fail to take into account the idea that people may hate a tyrannical leader, yet also hate being invaded and occupied by a foreign nation with its own goals and purposes).

    Looking at things from the perspective of other countries is essential to having a sensible foreign policy and understanding why other nations, people and leaders make the choices they do, yet remarkably few people in government and the media seem to understand that, and even those who likely do understand it (such as Obama and Clinton, both of whom I have every reason to believe are intelligent and knowledgable on foreign policy) fail to act in a manner consistent with that understanding.  One of my favourite things about Larison’s blog is his dedication to pointing out that actions interpreted as “hostile” by American politicians and talking heads are often just foreign nations following rational self-interest in areas where their interests do not coincide with America’s.Report

    • Kim in reply to Katherine says:

      Iran seems to a good degree to be rational. Maliki– not so much.

      Why did we put a crazy guy in charge again??Report

      • Kolohe in reply to Kim says:

        Iran’s problem is that it’s internal divisions are every bit as bad as Iraq’s and in some cases worse.

        Iran has had the ‘advantage’ of continuity of power with only two different guys in the grand poobah seat since the revolution, and enough delegations of power to other factions in a (very) modestly dynamic process to mollify some dissent and prevent the system from growing completely sclerotic.

        But contra BlaiseP, I would think the merchant class should have been sick and tired of some of this stuff long ago, Iran’s economy has been underperforming for years.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to Kim says:

        When Gulf War One ended, you know, the rah-rah one, where our heroic troops marched down Main Street and yellow ribbons and patriotic bunting was hung about like so many demented teenagers TPing the neighbor’s house… Bush the Wiser kinda leaned on Emir Sabah of Kuwait.   Sabah, he said, we’ve come a long way to save your bacon, excuse the truly unfortunate metaphor, Your Highness, but we’d sorta like to see some Democracy in Kuwait, all things considered.   Whaddaya say, ol’ Emir, ol’ pal?

        So he did!  The Emir arranged to have his Council of Elders elected instead of appointed.

        Guess what came of it.    A bunch of Highly Conservative Bearded Wonders got elected.   Kuwait’s even more religiously repressive than ever.

        Egypt, ditto.

        So wonder not to see some maniac like Maliki in charge of Iraq or anywhere else.   The general reaction to Liberation and Free ‘Leckshuns is a profound swing toward Conservatives who promise a return to normalcy and the Faith of our Fathers, etc.Report

        • Kim in reply to BlaiseP says:

          shit. wrong guy, I meant the guy in Afghanistan.

          And I mean literally crazy, Blaise, not just stupid policies. (Not that bush’s major depression & drug use doesn’t count as somewhat crazy, it’s just more manageable.)Report

          • BlaiseP in reply to Kim says:

            Okay, here’s my insufficient take on Karzai.

            You remember that bit of Oh Brother Where Art Thou, when Ulysses Everett McGill says in exasperation:  “Well, ain’t this place a geographical oddity. Two weeks from everywhere!”   That’s Afghanistan.  A huge country, as big as France.

            I was in the Kabul area in 2002.   There’s an ancient mud brick wall around Kabul, been there since the fifth century to keep invaders out.   It never worked but it is a working definition of Afghanistan:  there’s Kabul and everything outside the wall.   They might as well be different worlds.

            Karzai is a macher, a fixer-upper who placates the various factions.   All his power is derived from his enemies.   Not his friends, folks, his enemies.  As long as most of the country lives in fear of Karzai’s numerous enemies, he stays in power.    There’s no such thing as friendship in Afghanistan, there are only allies.   As long as he can capitalize on the many small groups who grudgingly are willing to side with him for the moment, this fractious lump can hold Kabul and the main cities of the north.   The south of Afghanistan, well, it’s two weeks from anywhere and nobody controls it, yet anyway.

            See, when the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, united for long enough to drive the powers-that-were out of Kabul, they broke apart and damned near wrecked Kabul in internecine warfare.   People aren’t so much afraid of the Taliban coming to power, but what will immediately follow the ouster of Karzai.    They’ll just do it all over again and everyone knows it, even the Taliban.

            Small wonder Karzai’s going crazy.   He’s running an un-government.   It’s inside-out.   We didn’t help matters at the start when Zalmay Khalilzad cut off Karzai’s balls in front of his friends.  To America’s credit, this has stopped.   Now Karzai says all sorts of terrible things about us and we just shine it on, knowing he must say these things if he’s to maintain his fragile coalition.   He’s growing a pair.Report

            • Kolohe in reply to BlaiseP says:

              That’s a reasonably good take.  And why we should get out of there now.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Kolohe says:

                Ecch, yes and no.  Now I’ll tell you ought to leave Afghanistan, is those useless Indian troublemakers.   They’ve opened like a dozen “embassies” in Afghanistan, hundreds of spies along the Hindu Kush, with their grubby little index fingers pushed up Pakistan’s fundament and it’s high time we gave those Deshis the Bum’s Rush.   They’re  a needless provocation.   As Karzai grows ever-angrier with the Pakistanis, India has been cuddling up to him.

                That said, we shouldn’t have anyone outside the Kabul Wall who can’t speak Pashto or Dari.   That would cut things down to an appropriate contingent.   At least they’d be remotely useful.


              • Kolohe in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Indian presence is far smaller than Chinese presence (at least it was two years ago) and the only thing Indian spies in Afghanistan would find out is the sheer magnitude and rank evilness of ISI perfidy.   Which is stuff everyone already knows.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Kolohe says:

                Considering the Haqqani clan was once in the exclusive employ of the CIA, maybe we might have kept that contract open for later use.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Kolohe says:

                As for the Indians in Afghanistan, they are nothing but turds in the punch bowl.   Get them out before they spark up another round of fighting.   The Chinese built Pakistan a big port on the coast nobody wants to use because the road north is so lawless.Report

            • Nob Akimoto in reply to BlaiseP says:

              Now granted, this isn’t to excuse the use of drone warfare, but what precisely do the anti-interventionists hope will happen in Afghanistan the moment the coalition pulls out? Sunshine and rainbows?

              There’ll be a giant human cost, whatever winds up happening. Karzai is the Mayor of Kabul, but so have historically most Afghan kings. The question is really whether there’s someone to protect the mayor.

              Is it worth US blood and treasure? Probably not.

              Will getting out and stopping predator strikes cut down on killing and make things peaceful and conductive to free trade in Afghanistan? Most certainly not.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

                Different areas, different objectives.   We should probably stay in Kabul for the indefinite future.   He who controls Kabul road controls Afghanistan’s north.

                The far north is probably secure enough now.   It used to be controlled by Ahmed Shah Massoud, a wise man, possessed of a fund of wisdom and tolerance, a far better man than Karzai.   Osama bin Ladin had him murdered as a gift to his Taliban hosts.   Had Shah Massoud Shir Panjshir lived, the story of our invasion of Afghanistan would have gone quite differently.

                The far west will become a buffer zone with Iran.   There’s a good deal of trade back and forth over the border, Iran has no designs on Afghanistan, it speaks Dari, essentially Persian.   Iran might resent us flying drones out of Afghanistan but then again, they’re gaining influence among the Dari speakers, mostly Shiites, who are coming under attack in other parts of Afghanistan.   I don’t see a big problem with Iran exerting its influence to the west, it’s been going on for centuries.

                Pakistan’s future is in some doubt.   They’ve got more Pashtun problems than we do in Afghanistan.   They’ve also got Sindhi problems, other tribes are getting restive too.   The Urdu speakers are making a dog’s dinner of their internal politics, the current regime is toast.  I wouldn’t give it a year before something big happens over in Islamabad.    The Chinese are developing a case of the ass with Pakistan:  it seems those anti-Pakistan Taliban are harboring Uighur rebels among them.   They’ve been there for many years, intermarrying with the northern Pashtun.  The Uighur brought their Communist ways with them.  They practice collective farming and exhibit a mastery of technology the backward Pashtun haven’t quite embraced.

                The south of Afghanistan is anyone’s guess.  More bad options than good present themselves down there.Report

              • Kolohe in reply to BlaiseP says:

                You know the when we talked about Massoud before, you did not express admiration for him in such glowing terms.


                Shiite=Hazara, the heirs of Genghis Khan, is the key correlation.  Most all the educated classes speak Dari, and those in the north who are not native speakers of it use it as a lingua franca.


              • BlaiseP in reply to Kolohe says:

                My opinion of him has changed.   He was a warlord and a great dealer in heroin in his time but he was also a feminist.   I remember him far differently, back when he led what we once called the Panjshir drug lords.

                For what it’s worth, you were right, back then.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Kolohe says:

                … and I was wrong.Report

        • Mark Thompson in reply to BlaiseP says:

          Not that this disproved your point (it doesn’t and isn’t meant to) but it should be noted that Kuwait is still far less repressive than its neighbor to the South. I know of Kuwaiti men who have to work more or less full time in Saudi Arabia who have to leave their wives at home because they aren’t willing to deal with the extreme repressiveness of Saudi Arabia and it’s religious police.Report

          • BlaiseP in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            Yeah, KSA is pretty awful.   The muttawa’in are just the worst.   KSA can only do so much about them.   The House of Saud used them as enforcers when they drove off the Hashemites from Riyadh and then had to whack the Ottomans a few times.   The House of Saud is in a bear trap of its own making.Report

    • Nob Akimoto in reply to Katherine says:

      It’s not that foreign policy decision makers don’t understand that other states have their own security interests, it’s that they (legitimately or illegitimately depending on the case) feel that there are issues that might trump those security interests.

      Larison tends to get a bit myopic to the point of absurdity on his emphasis on sovereignty, to the point where he makes claims about keeping neutral in large conflicts which border on the insane.Report

      • Katherine in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        The issue I was alluding to isn’t American decisions-makers who weigh America’s interests against the interests of other countries.

        It’s when people (some in the media, some in Congress) take something like Turkey maintaining civil relations with Iran and cast it as a reflections of Turkey’s level of friendliness or hostility towards America, or as a sign of latent Islamism, rather than as the reasonable choice of a state that would prefer to be on cordial terms with all its neighbours.  Or view Russia’s dislike of the US setting up a missile defence system in Poland as aggressiveness and hostility to the US, rather than as the Russians just not liking implicit threats.  Numerous Republican regarding Obama’s policy of trying to be decent – or at minimum, polite – to foreign nations as a failure because it hasn’t made those nations cast aside their own interests and do whatever America wants.

        In general, the sort of it’s-all-about-us attitude of politicians and talking heads who like to talk about foreign policy, but not to think about it.Report

  9. dexter says:

    It would be such a wonderful thing to make a president the same way one makes a Mr. Potatohead.  I like this thing about that one and that thing about this one.  I like RP’s idea about taming the milatary/industrial complex, but I can not vote for someone who also wants to end the EPA and all those pesky environmental regulations

    I have wondered more than once what would happen if a bunch of anybody else showed up in the South and started telling us how to treat our women.  Rednecks have many flaws, but they usually hit what they are aiming to hit.Report

  10. Nob Akimoto says:

    Do we really have to “imagine” this?

    I mean given the militarization of a lot of police, it doesn’t have to be Russian or Chinese occupiers…

    The US already does this with certain local law enforcement.

    Like oh, Maricopa County.Report

  11. ThatPirateGuy says:

    So good thing we did actually end the war in Iraq. This ad is obsolete.


  12. Rob in CT says:

    It’s great, but for the lie in it that lies about Obama.  Obama went ahead with his espoused policy and the pre-existing (Bush-era) agreement to pull out of Iraq, and his policy in Afghanistan, while misguided at this time, is exactly what he promised as a candidate.

    There are examples of Obama promising something and then doing the opposite (oh, I know them well!), but that’s not one of ’em.

    Other than that, good stuff.  But in order for this to resonate, people have to be willing to believe that the people of Iraq and Afghanistan are basically like Texans (great choice, IMO!), which a large # of Americans will reject, somehow.Report

  13. Plinko says:

    There was a minute there I wasn’t sure if the ad was going to go down the drug war or foreign military adventures route, I suppose they could cut a slightly different back half if they wanted to.

    Goes on about twice as long as it needs to make its point, though. An ad of all words and ominous noise needs to be punchier.Report

  14. dhex says:

    like plinko i wasn’t sure if they were going to drug war it or war-war it. it is too long and the narrator should probably do a third take but it’s nice to see the whole “your enemies don’t hate you because of your freedom because that is stone cold stupid” bit.Report

  15. E.D. Kain says:

    I’m mad that you beat me to this, Alex, but it is quite brilliant. Fading to the word LOVE there at the end, and then twisting that around to the Revolution logo…all just very slick and well done. I need to write something up about the cleverness of Ron Paul’s campaign people who are obviously just amazingly talented. If only he’d gotten these guys onboard instead of Rockwell et alia years ago.Report

  16. Ryan Bonneville says:

    In addition to the fact that this is a pretty punchy political argument, it’s also just an outstanding piece of pop art. Beautifully done.Report