Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

My weekend

This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution and I am attending this conference on it over the weekend at Indiana University. I’m looking forward to it. The Hungarians stood alone in 1956 and they failed. After the revolution was crushed a Soviet general was quoted as saying something to this effect: "We will not leave Hungary until crayfish learn to whistle." Well, it turned out that crayfish could be taught and free Hungary is no longer alone. And the Soviet general--and the thing that gave him his title--is dead. And I’m reading Mansfield’s Manliness.

Discussions - 17 Comments

Peter, it’s almost as if you are living in a different timeline.

A universe where the US does not imprison without trial and blatantly torture in the teeth of international condemnation.

Where the highest officals of the land are not serial liars on subjects as wide ranging as disaster relief and commercial transactions.

You don’t think it’s kind of ironic to be lauding the "spirit" of the hungarians, while the US becomes the worlds new Soviet Union?

Hmmmm ...?

To Brian Coughlan: This will be my last direct word to you: You should be ashamed of yourself.

To Brian Coughlan: This will be my last direct word to you: You should be ashamed of yourself.

I’m genuinely sorry to upset you, personally that is. Of course the anniversary of the Hungarian uprising should be celebrated. I’m not disputing that at all.

It’s just that this site, the polite olde worlde chats and civilised exchanges seem so removed from the awful reality stalking and destroying your republic.

Of course the very fact of civil discourse is the attraction, even your dismissal of me was civil and polite.

Ah well, we will keep on trying to make the case for getting our real America back.

I understand that there is a Hungarian Revolution memorial here in Denver. I was thinking about a place to take young Isaac this weekend (supposed to be in the 60’s again), we might run there and see.


Here is a link to a map of the memorial.


If you really see no difference between the Soviet Union and modern-day America, then you have no clue about the realities of history or current affairs. Truly, if you are that removed from reality, your opinions on just about everything are irrelevant.

Since when is it your America anyway? I thought you were Irish and living in Sweden, yet you seem to continually make little slips that suggest otherwise. I rather expect you are just some Deaniac living in America trying to look terribly unbiased with your view from distant Europe.

Regardless, your opinions on America’s activities in the world and at home are meaningless if your worldview is as disjointed as it appears.

I thought you were Irish and living in Sweden, yet you seem to continually make little slips that suggest otherwise.

That is a damnable, slur, a damnable slur!

While your paranoia is not surprising, it is misplaced:-)

I see many differences between "modern day america" and the Soviet Union. However, that is not what concerns me. It’s the disturbing similarities that are the issue. Similarities that are at odds with everything that America professes to be. You may be incapable of seeing it, but billions around the world are not as blind.

Gulags, arrest without trial, warrantless wiretapping, boundless executive power and an apathetic populace.

It’s a freaking nightmare alright, but it is recognisably "modern day America".

When I say I want "our America" back, thats exactly what I mean. The america that lands men on the moon, promotes human rights around the world, the America that inspires.

This jackbooted thug that you defend is not that America, it is a shoddy, sub standard, cheap chinese knock off. Away with it!

Bring me the real thing.

Simply Put, Brian you repeat propoganda, and false propoganda at that: "Gulags, arrest without trial, warrantless wiretapping, boundless executive power and an apathetic populace." If that’s all you offer, and it seems it is, then Peter is correct.

Steve are you living on the same planet?

This is not propoganda, it is fact.

Guantanamo exists. Do you dispute this?

People have been imprisoned in Guantanamo, without trial, in some cases for over 4 years, Do you dispute that?

Ex prisoners, current prisoners claim torture, US officers admit at least to practices that most civilised people consider torture.

For goodness sake man, there are photos and videos, from abu graib hundreds of them. That German guy who was abducted, not to mention more east africans than you can shake a stick at.

Your president has admitted to wiretapping in the US, and his attorney general has tried to defend it!

Honestly, I’m sorry, you’ve lost me. Propaganda? Thats when you pay people money (or coerce them) to make up and print positive stuff, so that you look good. Thats propaganda, what Rumsfeld is doing/isn’t doing/might still be doing in Iraq.

Man, you may think your response a witty put down, but WAKE UP. Not even most americans swallow that tripe anymore, and certainly, the other 97% of the worlds citizens just shake their heads in disbelief.

It is really like you are living in a parallel universe. Well guess what friend, reality has intruded, and your bubble is shrinking. May it burst, and soon.

Brian, this site is called "No Left Turns." You are in the habit not only of making left turns, but of making four left turns in a row.

It ends you up exactly where you started.

Get lost.

Gee Dave, I never noticed that ... NOT.

Ahm jus’ sheddin’ a lil’ light in the darkness is all ... lettin’ mah light out from unner is bushel.

Besides, didn’t yo momma tell you not to be mean?

Unless Sweden has magically been transported to the Maryland suburbs of DC, Brian Coughlan (if that is his real name) is about as Swedish as Peter Schramm is.

Jester .... y’all aint payin’ attenshun.

I’m Irish, but I live in Sweden.

Call to confirm if you dare ... 0046 322 45220 ...but remember, we are 6 hours behind the east coast.

I’m a bonafide pissed of ...... um EU’r?

I see many differences between "modern day america" and the Soviet Union. However, that is not what concerns me. It’s the disturbing similarities that are the issue. Similarities that are at odds with everything that America professes to be. You may be incapable of seeing it, but billions around the world are not as blind.

Yes, yes. I know. You believe that the entire world hates America now. It’s a classic rhetorical tool to claim that everyone agrees with your own position and those who disagree are flailing about in a teeny, tiny minority. Whatever. There are many people outside America that understand what President Bush is trying to do and respect him for it. Furthermore, if you truly live in Sweden, I have very little use for your opinions of what America is like when you do not live here and only hear about our actions through your media.

I myself do not agree with everything that Bush has done or the way in which he has done it. But I’m not so foolish as to think that he is "evil" as you have claimed or that he is fascist or power-hungry or any of the other tripe you and the far left bandy about.

As for your claims that there are similarities between modern-day America and the Soviet Union, I sure wish you would point them out. Let’s see, you think Guantanamo is equivalent to the Soviet gulags? 400-500 prisoners, not citizens of America, captured on the battlefield, in most cases actively fighting American soldiers equates to the Soviet gulags? Gulags that consisted of over 400 prisons holding millions of prisoners and requiring forced labor that often worked the prisoners to death. Prisoners that were, by and large, simply political opponents to the ruling political party in Russia, not foreign combatants. It is likely that millions died in the gulags. Even the staunchest opponents of the Bush administration would be unlikely to claim more than 50 deaths at Guantanamo. These are similar? Do you even take yourself seriously?

Arrest without trial? We’re talking about terrorists and enemy soldiers here. Do American soldiers get trials when they are captured by the enemy? You make it sound as if America is wandering around the world, picking up random people and imprisoning them in Guantanamo without explanation. This isn’t the case and you know it. But implying that it is so enables you to appear to have the moral high ground. Let’s deal in reality instead.

Warrantless wiretapping? Only on selected international calls and only when there is strong suspicion of terrorist activity. I fail to see the problem here. Furthermore, the issue is being adjudicated and debated in the public forum. Do you think Lenin and Stalin would have allowed the issue to be debated publicly in the Soviet Union? I rather think anyone expressing opposition to such a policy in the USSR would have found themselves on the wrong side of a firing squad. Yet you see similarities. Right.

Boundless executive power? Where exactly is this power? Bush can barely get any of his domestic agenda through a Congress that is dominated by his own party. This is "boundless executive power"?! Was there even a legislative power in Soviet Russia? Uh, no.

Oh, and an apathetic populace. Right. Because from Sweden, you can see that Americans are simply sheep, blindly following the Dear Leader, huh? In reality, a place you should visit sometime, there is a lot of political debate every day in America. Bush won a very close election against an opponent that opposed him on almost every issue. Many Americans loudly express both support and disagreement with the President and his policies. Our populace is hardly apathetic. But of course you wouldn’t know that being in Sweden.

Hmmm, Domo, ... on the one hand you claim I can’t possibly know what americans think, yet you claim YOU know what the rest of the world think.

Ya can’t have it both ways.

We live in a connected world. I’ve got a pretty good idea what americans think. A shrinking miniority still have not grasped that your government is off the rails. You appear to be trying to appear to straddle the fence, while being firmly in the "we are the good guys" camp.

See how much you can tell just from reading stuff?

I know what Swedes and Irish people think. I work with Brits, Francophones and Germans, read Swedish, German and English speaking news and blogs. So I’ve got a pretty good idea what the broader world thinks.

Certainly one comes across the occasional weak, luke warm defence of Bush, but this represents a vanishingly small minority in the wider world.

I agree with the substance of most of what you have posted, as regards the crimes of the Bush administration, but not your interpretation. You set it all up on a sliding scale of atrocity and find examples as extreme as possible to compare. What is the point of that? Sure we’re bad, but we are not THAT bad?

You well know that it’s the principle of the thing, that massive infractions start with the acceptance by the broader public of small outrages.

I’m just intervening in the life cycle of atrocity as early on as possible:-)

Is it wrong to defend your country against agression? NO.

Is it wrong to invade the country of your choice killing 30,000 in the process, traumatising millions more and calling it liberation? YES, and billions more than the paltry lukewarm support at home, agree with me on this one.

Is it wrong to arrest and try criminals. HECK NO.

Is it wrong to arrest people and hold them indefinetly? YES. Do I know anything about the these people, other than that they have been held for 4 years? Nope, but neither do you, because the entire sorry episode is shrouded in secrecy. National Security docha know. How weak is that? You claim they are terrorists because that is what you have been TOLD. You don’t know anything about these people, because it’s all secret.

Let me finish with a little story. My Mom and Dad met in South Africa, he was working in the mines there in the 50’s. They got married and I spent about 12 years living there from the mid 70’s to the late 80’s. I grew up being told that Nelson Mandela was a terrorist.

But you know, that was a crock then, and it’s a crock now. This is the same nonsense played out on a bigger stage. I’m immune because I’ve had the disease.

AS to why he is doing it? Because he thinks it’s the right thing to do, and doesn’t give a rats ass what anybody else thinks. That, right there is the core attitude I object to.

I reject the idea that this man (or any man), can arrest, imprison and "force feed" anyone, forever, anywhere on the planet just because HE thinks it’s a good idea. Screw THAT.

You are the sucker here, supporting and facilitating a criminal regime. I’ve been there and done that, and when you wake up to it, you do feel like an idiot. I was 19, what on earth is your excuse?

coughlan, since we are in the mode of submitting website addresses here is one..

A sample....

"The United States is finding the same results with the Iranian nuclear negotiations. Europe wanted multilateralism — they got it, and they won humiliation from the Iranians, with the possibility of nuclear weapons apparently now resting in the hands of the Russians, who sold the mullahs much of their nuclear hardware in the first place. Ever so slowly, after the French riots, the bombings in London and Madrid, and the Danish cartoons, the Europeans are learning that for all their anti-American triangulating, nice talk to the Iranians, and money given to Palestinian terrorists, they have won only contempt from the Middle East."

"The result? They are coming back around to the United States, in a way that would be impossible had we sent dozens of envoys to London and Paris begging to restore the old Atlantic partnership. Gerhard Schroeder, after all, not George Bush, is now a paid lackey for a post-Soviet state-owned oil company, and Jacques Chirac is blathering in his dotage about using French nukes. The legacy of that sad pair of bystanders is only appeasement, cheap anti-Americanism, and oil deals with Saddam, while the United States has altered the very dynamic of the Middle East."-V.Hanson

You may want to check the doors of the echo chamber you live in.

while the United States has altered the very dynamic of the Middle East."-V.Hanson

At what cost, and with what end in sight?

The US and EU together converted Spain, Greece and Portugal to free markets and democracy, while the Soviet Union was still a major force in the world. It was done peacefully, culminating with those countries joining the EU. No invasions, not tens of thousands killed.

My point? War is barbaric, and corrodes those engaged in it whatever side they are on. It should always be a last resort, a real last resort, because the outcomes are always uncertain. If anyone is learning lessons now it’s the United States.

C’mon guys this isn’t hard stuff to refute. Greeted as liberators, last throes, WMD, plenty of troops? Ring any bells?

The list of cockups in this war is very, very long, starting with launching it at all.

Hanson makes some good points about Schroeder and Chiraq, all noted, will in advance of you bringing it up. When the French were nuclear testing in pacific, where were you? I was outside the French embassy in Dublin giving them hell.

Given their positions and relative power though, these guys (S & C) are small potatoes. Bush is president of the most powerful country in the world, and he is a violent warmonger, responsible for actual deaths. Now, you may not accept the violent war monger, but the deaths? It’s indisputable. So clearly if I object to that "kind of thing" thats were my focus should be, and exactly where it is.

So what now for the Iranians? A US nuclear strike? Are you really ready to incinerate hundreds of thousands of people, just because you are scared of what might happen?

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