Thursday, June 15, 2006

House Resolution 861: Iraq and Terrorism

Today, the House of Representatives debated House Resolution 861.

Sometimes, I wish that I was a member of Congress, and had the freedom to stand before the Democrats and Republicans where I can give them an honest assessment of their conduct.

From the Congressional Record: June 15, 2006


There are days when I am pleased to be an Independent. I can say the things that I actually hold to be true.

Today, I rise to urge you to pull this resolution.

Do you still beat your wife?

Yes or no.

We will not allow you to give any other answer. We will not allow you to clarify the question. You must answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to this question.

This is a classic example of the informal fallacy of ‘complex question’ -- a form of rhetoric where you demand that somebody answer question phrased in such a way that any answer can be distorted or twisted.

Do you still beat your wife?

If the person answers 'yes,' you say that he is beating his wife. What a despicable person he is that he would do this to another person.

If the person answers 'no,' you say that this means that there was a time in which he did beat his wife. How could he stop doing something that he never did? What a despicable person he is that he did this to another person.

What does he answer if he has never beaten his spouse? He is told that he must answer the question, but he is given no opportunity to give an honest answer.

To my Republican colleagues, it is clear that this is what you intend to accomplish with this resolution.

"Do you support war on Iraq and the rest of the war on terrorism?"

How is somebody supposed to answer this question if he believes that the war in Iraq has nothing to do with the war on terrorism? How is he supposed to answer if he believes that the Bush Administration used 9-11 and a pack of lies to manipulate Americans into supporting a blatant act of aggression?

If he answers, "Yes," you will say that he supports the Bush Administration’s war invasion – that he supports Bush Administration's policy of deceiving the American people into supporting a war they never would have supported if they had been told the truth. You will use that to turn them into co-conspirators.

If he answers, "No," you will have your spin doctors portray this as a vote against fighting the terrorists. You are prepared to make it sound as if they are willing to let Osama Bin Laden go and forgive the terrorists for what they did to this country.

You built this resolution to be the foundation for a campaign of lies and deceit.

Many of you claim that you worship a God that forbids you from bearing false witness against another. If this is true, then how you expect to escape judgment for setting up a campaign of lies and deceit? Maybe you think that your God does not care if you lie – His commandments only apply to others.

You decided not to allow any amendments.

Why is that?

People who plan to use a complex question in a campaign of deception cannot allow the people they ask to modify the question. You cannot allow them to say something like, “I have never beat my wife.” You cannot allow any answer but “yes” or “no” to the question you asked.

This is not an accident. This is an intentional and deliberate plan to begin constructing a campaign of lies with this resolution. Such a campaign of deception and “bearing false witness” that you plan to build on this foundation will not stand if you allowed amendments.

You know that these charges are true. Think back to the back-room meetings you had with fellow Republicans when you worked out this strategy. I will bet good money that the conversation was rich with examples of people saying things like, "This is a perfect strategy, because no matter what the Democrat does we can twist his words, distort their meaning, and bear false witness against them in order to gain an advantage."

You are liars, plain and simple. Why somebody thought to put people of such low moral character in charge of this country is beyond my comprehension.

As for my Democratic associates -- at least those who belong to the so-called "Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party," those who have the endorsement and support of liberal bloggers, your position on this issue baffles me even more.

You make me think of stories that I hear from time to time of people who turn their backs on innocent people in danger. I see you sitting down in the comfort of your own home, eating a good meal and entertaining yourself with the most recent episode of "Survivor," when you hear a woman's screams coming in through your open window. You are curious enough that you go to the window, where you watch an attacker drag his victim into an alley. Fearing that the noise may make it difficult to pay attention to your show, you close the window and go back to your meal.

The next day, the police show up. They have discovered a body of a young woman in the alley. They ask if you know anything about it. You answer them that you did, but that you did not want to get involved. So, you did nothing.

This is what you . . . what some of you . . . want to do with Iraq. You want to close the window and go back to watching television. As the bodies pile up in the street you will comfort yourself by saying, "It's not my problem."

Morally, the the 10-year-old in Iraq is no different than the 10-yar-old in Iowa. You have to ask yourself what you would do if you faced a situation where bloody factions in Iowa were going around killing each other. Would you endorse the policy of letting them fight it out among themselves, no matter how many 10-year-olds end up as scattered body parts on the streets of Des Moines? Or would you insist on sending in the federal troops to find the murderous bastards responsible for this situation and putting an end to it?

If you say, "Let the people fight it out among themselves?" then you are no better than that man in the apartment watching the attack in the alley below saying, "Let THEM fight it out among themselves."

Innocent people are being killed and maimed, and you say "Do nothing."

To my Republican colleagues, I say that you cannot morally vote for this resolution. If you vote for this resolution, you vote for a culture of lies, deceit, and distortion. You should be voting for a culture in which, "Thou shalt not bear false witness upon thy neighbor" is a guiding principle and a doctrine which all good citizens must accept and try to live by. Instead, you would be voting for a culture in which the guiding principle is, "Thou shalt manipulate the system so as to bear false witness upon others whenever it is politically and socially expedient to do so." Those who vote for this proposal do not have the moral character needed for somebody to serve in this body.

Democrats, you cannot vote morally against this resolution. Voting against this resolution involves voting for closing the window and going back to your entertainment when you know that there is a bloody attack going on in the alley below your window, and innocent people are being slaughtered.

The only morally conscionable position to take on this resolution is to abstain, and wait to consider a proposal that is not meant to build a foundation of lies and deception that allows one to seriously state an honest opinion on what should be done with respect to the war in Iraq. The question of what should be done should be answered with one question in mind. "How do you best prevent children from ending up as scattered body parts on a city street?"

So, let’s put this thing away. Let’s move on to discuss important and relevant issues. And, when we do, at least try to pretend that you have something resembling a sense of morality and integrity.


Hume's Ghost said...

I used to be against withdrawing troops because I felt we had an obligation to fix what we broke. Now I'm not so sure (that we shouldn't withdraw.)

The issues I have are:
1. Lack of confidence in the Bush administration. I doubt they have the competence to "fix" Iraq.
2. If the people of Iraq don't want us there (and as far as I know polls show they don't) is it right to stay when we are not wanted?
3. I wonder if charges that the US occupation is fueling the insurgency are correct. That if we were to withdraw it would take the wind out of their sails, so to speak.
4. I have a hunch that a UN backed force would be better recieved in the region.

I still have not made up my mind. What bothers me is when the issue is framed in such away that it is suggested that those who propose withdrawing troops don't care about the fate of Iraq. That is certainly the case for a number of individuals (probably the same kind of individuals who don't approve of Bush not because of principle, but because the war isn't going well), but it is not neccesarily the case that someone in favor of withdrawing troops is unconcerned with the fate of Iraq.

Alonzo Fyfe said...

I do not know about the wisdom of staying versus leaving either. I have the same questions you have.

However, the point is that these are questions I have, and those who insist on a withdraw are not giving me any answers.

(1) Bush's incompetence is not an argument either way -- an incompetent withdraw may be worse than an incompetent continuation.

(2) The only people whose opinions I am concerned about as to whether we stay or go are the innocent civilians. If the murderers want us to go, that does not matter.

(3) Insurgency fueled by US occupation should only target US forces and not kill civilians. My concern is with the murder of civilians. If US occupation is fueling the murder of Iraqi civilians, then somebody has a very poor aim.

(4) Bush should not have started this war without a plan in place to have a substantial Muslim presence among the occupying force by including Muslim countries among the coalition forces. Papa Bush saw the wisdom in this. It would still be wise to find Muslim allies, but Baby Bush seems to lack the wisdom to pursue that option.

In short, I am not necessarily opposed to withdrawing our forces. However, I want to see a plan that shows that the planners made a decent effort to secure innocent lives. I'm not seeing much concern in this area among those arguing for a withdraw.

Anonymous said...

There is an 800 lb gorilla in the living room. In the minds of many Americans (and foreigners) a secret is being kept. A secret that is not openly discussed for fear of revealing the hidden motive for approving military action in Iraq. It is not discussed because it is immoral. Many innocent Iraqi lives were lost as a result. Americans are chasing the American dream and oil is the key ingredient.