The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Friday, January 07, 2005

JOHN HAWKINS' 40 MOST OBNOXIOUS QUOTES LIST -- GRADED
A 2-PART SERIES
PART 2


(For Part 1, either scroll down or click here)

Once again, we'll be using a letter-grade system, with an A being a quote that is universally obnoxious, and an F being a quote that either isn't obnoxious, is fundamentally true, or reveals partisan hackery from Mr Hawkins.

Once more, here's the link (pops). Onward!

#20-1

#20: Walter Cronkite, talking about Karl Rove.
Eh? This just sounds to me like he's saying that the Bin Laden tape which surfaced right before the election would be politically helpful to Bush's reelection campaign. There were plenty of Bush allies saying that at the time; calling it nothing short of "a gift". This just seems like a fancy way of putting it, as if to say "this will be so helpful to them, it's a wonder Karl Rove didn't put him up to it". If Hawkins and his ilk think Walter was serious, then they're being idiotically obtuse.
TFM Grade: D

#19: Ken Layne's little rant.
I'd never seen that one before. Frankly, I was very amused by it. While it does provoke thought, and puts forward a compelling theory as to why many Americans vote against both their economic interests and their not-getting-blown-up-by-insurgents interests, it is very, very shrill.
TFM Grade: B+

#18: Ted Kennedy.
We'll ask Alberto "Memo" Gonzales and Don "Copper Green" Rumsfeld about this one.
TFM Grade: D+

#17: Bill Moyers.
I wonder where he got that idea... Could it be...

TFM Grade: C-

#16: Lawrence O'Donnell.
It's no "you go to war with the army you have", of course. But John? Troops follow orders, and orders come from above. That's how this whole civilian-controlled Army thing works. My theory: Hawkins wanted to use something from O'Donnell's shouting match with John O'Neill, but couldn't find a good enough quote, so he settled on this one which, even if it's obnoxious, doesn't deserve to be this high up. That said, the 2nd half the quote is problematic, and similar to Sully's "do what they are told" quote.
TFM Grade: B

#15: Alan Keyes.
I'm not exactly sure how someone "votes to behave" in a specific way. This would get an A, but Keyes is so darn entertaining that I just can't tag him as wholly obnoxious.
TFM Grade: A-

#14: Michael Berg, father of Nick Berg, beheaded by insurgents.
News flash! News flash! Hot off the presses: Father says something erratic about son's untimely death. More at eleven! Anyway... Remember how folks in the GOP leadership were saying things like "you can support the troops without supporting the President" back during the Kosovo operation? One wonders what their ilk said when their children died in that war... what? No Americans died? Anyway...
TFM Grade: D

#13: Diana Kerry.
Hawkins is compelled to re-explain why the quote is obnoxious. That's a bad sign for this one.
TFM Grade: D+

#12: Lew Rockwell.
Okay! An actual dumb quote! Not as much the opinion part as the procedural part. It just sounds like thoughtless knee-jerk moral relativism to me. The only concrete thing we've accomplished in this war is that we put an asshole in jail, and he will be held accountable for his crimes. Now, I wouldn't mind if, say, we weren't so cuddly with people like Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan, but that's something we can work on. In the meantime, I'm feeling charitable, so let's give this one a good grade.
TFM Grade: A

#11: John Leguizamo.
With the exception of his role in Moulin Rouge, as an actor John Leguizamo has made a career out of being painfully obnoxious, I'll grant you that. However, this was just a joke. Jeez.
TFM Grade: C

#10: Cameron Diaz.
It's clear that she's addressing th-- wait, Cameron Diaz?!? THIS is how far down the chain Hawkins has gone to pad his list? Fine, whatever. That said, unless you're militantly anti-choice, I don't see anything out of the ordinary here, this is standard, if blunt, pro-choice boilerplate. Rape is, indeed, the unwanted intrusion of one's body.
TFM Grade: C

#9: Linda Ronstadt. Again.
This one reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where Jerry's personal assistant tells him that the pilot of the airplane he's taking back to NY from Ithaca is attending his show. While I sympathize with her -- judgment and guilt are quite the mindfucks -- just be a pro, alright? Picture everybody naked if you have to. (Hmm bad idea given the average age of her current fan-base)
TFM Grade: B+

#8: Some UC Berkeley lecturer.
If he had stuck to the word "uprising" instead of "intifada", Hawkins wouldn't have much of a leg to stand on. Of course, it was at an anti-war rally, so no, I don't think he was supporting domestic terrorist acts. However, yes, this is another stupid one.
TFM Grade: A-

#7: St Petersburg Democratic Club fund-raising ad.
Yeah, we're better than this. Hawkins gets his second A.
TFM Grade: A

#6: Amy Richards.
It's called pro-choice vs not pro-choice. Deal with it. If these righties really cared about the great abortion genocide, they'd proritize improving the economy above Bush's dogmatic pushes for more and more tax cuts, thus addressing the #1 reason abortions occur in America: inability to afford raising (and yes, carrying) a child. Remember, abortion rates in America have gone UP, not down, since Dubya took office.
TFM Grade: D

#5: Ted Rall.
Dude, bad form. Keep your (metaphorical) guns trained upward. Rall could've talked specifically about the Lynch case, and some others, in the context of the fabrication of heroism by the administration to boost support for the war. But his big sweeping statement is terribly unfair to our servicemen and women. Their dedication to national service is to be commended, and those who would seek to use it corruptly are the ones subject to blame.
TFM Grade: A-

#4: Michael Feingold of the Village Voice.
I just read the theatre review from which the quote originated. If I had to guess--and yes, I'm guessing--he was going for some sort of wry humor that probably would've come out better out loud than on ink and paper. The over-the-top statement ends up pretty clunky, and not particularly tasteful.
TFM Grade: A-

Another pretty good streak... can he keep it going???

#3: James Wolcott on hurricanes.
A couple years ago I wrote a song that included the metaphor of a space shuttle re-entry... just a month and a half before the Columbia disaster. It is tragic what nature has wrought in southeastern Asia (unless, of course, you are Tom DeLay), so Wolcott's comment is now tarred with some sad irony. However 1) to play devil's advocate, he was talking about American hurricanes (which doesn't help too much), and 2) his point about our treatment of the environment is valid.
TFM Grade: B-

#2: Kos on the mercenaries.
Of course, the quote comes from a child of a guerrilla war, and a veteran of the US Armed Forces, who has a well-developed opinion of mercenaries, people who made the Army's job harder with their lack of discipline and their attitude. I don't know, I wasn't all that impressed by the mock outrage brigade when he said the quote. Though if Hawkins is serious about countering the denigration of mercenaries, he might want to talk to Microsoft and LucasArts, as they are putting out a game for the X-Box called "Mercenary: Playground of Destruction".
TFM Grade: C

Finally, the #1 quote:

Michael Moore.

Let's reprint this one in its entirety:
"The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not 'insurgents' or 'terrorists' or 'The Enemy.' They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow -- and they will win."
Conservatives run into problems when they attack Michael Moore, so I'd like to clear something up for them in the process of analyzing the selection of this particular quote.

Michael Moore is a polemicist, a propagandist, and at times a stretcher of the truth, whose desire to "get" those he views as wrongdoers causes him to go further than is either necessary or suggested (Consider his editing of the Willie Horton ad in BFC and the local newspaper story on the 2000 vote count in F911).

The problem? Moore's most vocal detractors spend most of their time accusing him of something he doesn't do: hate America. This is currently -- and incorrectly -- the centerpiece of the right's critique of Moore. Hell, they even made a movie titled "Michael Moore Hates America". To them I ask: why exactly does Moore keep going back to Flint in his movies? Perhaps because he wants, you know, the best for all the Americans -- middle Americans, HEARTLAND Americans -- who live in Flint and other cities like it.

Frankly, you didn't hear these guys accusing Michael Moore of anti-Americanism when he made The Big One, a movie just as scathing as any other of his. And don't say he wasn't on the radar screen; Roger & Me was about a decade old, and he had a best-selling book under his belt as well (and yes, he has more than that under his belt, save your jokes). He's just as brutal in his assault on American corporations in that movie as he is in any of his others. So why do they lay off that one? One hint: It's the same reason he wasn't accused of treason for his criticism, at the time, of the Kosovo intervention. Who are the hacks now?

Anyway, on to the quote in question.

Possible rationales for why the quote is obnoxious are:

1) "They will win", as in the US Army will not be able to defeat the insurgency. Perhaps, at most, it's pessimistic to look at the current insurgency and our current levels of troop deployment, compare both to their counterparts from the Vietnam war, and say that our goals in Iraq are doomed. Our ever-growing estimates of the size of the insurgency don't exactly paint our government as being all that optimistic either. This is not obnoxious. Hell, if you think a cause is doomed to failure, and you come out and say it in the interest of saving lives (many of them American), that's about as far from obnoxiousness as you can get.

2) It shows that Moore is rooting for the insurgency. BZZT! Wrong! The quote has nothing to do with Moore's allegiance in the war. It has to do with his objective position on the war: Occupying a large, fractured middle eastern country at a time when we're combatting terrorists who want us to invade and occupy a mideast country to prove their point is an awful idea. Sure, he's got a lot more to say, but that's one of his primary points of opposition. But the funniest of the three rationales is the third one...

3) By associating the Iraq insugents with the American revolution ("Minutemen"), Moore is validating their cause. I'm sure the word "minutemen" struck many people who read the quote, certainly those with views similar to those of Hawkins. The idea to this reasoning is, of course, that Moore is assigning the insurgency a credibility and idealism comparable to that of the American rebels, and by extension the founding fathers. Amercian revolutionaries were freedom-loving idealists, while they're just terrorists. Well . . . there was that whole slavery thing . . . and that women-not-voting thing . . . and that decimation-of-the-Native-Americans thing. America has made wonderful strides on so many fronts since its inception. But let's stop bullshitting ourselves; it's okay for early white Americans to not be gods. We'll live.

Moore's point is simple: He offers a counterhypothesis that reevaluates the role of the insurgency in Iraqi society as a whole, that they are more than just "terrorists" and "dead-enders" as our government says. This is not obnoxious.

Someone else said essentially the same thing in 2004. And it was someone far removed from Moore. Who was it? David Brooks. From a May column:
America went into Iraq with what, in retrospect, seems like a childish fantasy. America was going to topple Saddam, establish democracy and hand the country back to grateful Iraqis. America expected to be universally admired when it was all over.

America didn't understand the tragic irony that its power is also its weakness. As long as the US seemed so mighty, others, even those it was aiming to help, were bound to revolt. They would do so for their own self-respect. In taking out Saddam, America robbed the Iraqis of the honour of liberating themselves. The fact that they had no means to do so is beside the point.

Now, looking ahead, America faces another irony. To earn their own freedom, the Iraqis need a victory. And since it is too late for the Iraqis to have a victory over Saddam, it is imperative that they have a victory over the US. If the future textbooks of a free Iraq get written, the toppling of Saddam will be vaguely mentioned in one clause in one sentence. But the heroic Iraqi resistance against the American occupation will be lavishly described, page after page.

For America to succeed in Iraq, America has to lose.
How obnoxious! (:

Brooks then argues that the upcoming elections will provide a good enough forum for defiance by the Iraqi people that they will regain the dignity denied to them by our overthrowing Saddam. I sure hope this is the case. I'm concerned that Shi'ites will have problems with our proposal to have quotas of Sunnis in the Iraqi bureaucracy, and that the elections won't get off the ground in enough of the country to be viewed as legitimate. So yeah, given how many corners we've supposedly turned since spring 2003, I'm . . . pessimistic. I hope that's not obnoxious of me.

TFM Grade: F

John Hawkins' GPA for 20-1: 2.42 hey, a little better

John Hawkins' Cumulative GPA: 2.29

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