Monday, August 31, 2015

I Used To Be A Conservative Republican But I'm All Better Now, Thanks To Dick Cheney

I voted for George W. Bush. Twice.

I don't like admitting that. But it's true and important. Part of why I have become such a loud left-wing Democrat is that I am hoping we can develop time machine technology, so I can go back and find that Paul Bibeau guy before he starts screwing up. Maybe reading my blog will help him.

Anyway, fifteen years ago I was not only voting for GOP candidates, I actually gave money to the party, and I had a little card from them to carry in my wallet. I was literally a card-carrying Republican.

The story of how I got from there to here is kind of long and weird. It involves trying to join the CIA and discovering I was actually friends with an intelligence analyst who had turned into a bona fide 9/11 whistleblower. I wrote about her trip to Taliban-held Afghanistan here, and I will write about the entire tale in greater detail this week.

But I wanted to start with this: Dick Cheney saved me.

His dishonesty and immorality were so clear that they shook me up and made me reconsider everything I'd taken for granted - not just about the GOP, or about the conservative argument for a "strong defense," but about the nature of US foreign policy itself. The effect was that stark. Those of us who remember the Bush years know that what Cheney said and did, and their results, were undeniably awful on a scale we rarely see.

Cheney lied repeatedly about everything we were doing in the world. No, he didn't make mistakes from bad intelligence. No, he didn't make a lawyer's argument for his side. He lied to us... about the reasons we went to our wars, and about what we did in those wars. Millions of lives were ruined or destroyed as a result.

I bring it all up for two reasons:

The first is that Dick Cheney has just launched a book, and now he's doing the talk show circuit and writing op-eds for the Wall Street Journal. He clearly has a real audience out there. The second is that the GOP is going through a crack-up. Extreme conservatives like Ted Cruz and the people at sites like RedState and The Federalist are attacking the party establishment. And an even nastier and more extreme splinter group of racist Trump supporters are actually attacking the conservatives for not going far enough. The whole movement looks like it's ready to light itself on fire. And I know - I absolutely know - that these two things are related. Dick Cheney was such an obvious fraud and such a hideous warmonger that even very stupid people - like your faithful correspondent - could see it. Guys like me abandoned ship. And the people who remained? They are impervious to evidence and argument. They'd have to be.

I stopped being a Republican because there were just some things too terrible for me to consent to. But as for the rest... The conservative movement today is filled with the kind of people who still take Dick Cheney seriously.

And that explains everything.

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  1. I admire your honesty, Paul.

    I was brought up as an atheist/left winger, and I've never strayed far from the fold. I doubt that I ever will, as those beliefs have become "who I am".

    But I have lot of respect for those unusual people who question and then turn aside from their long held beliefs.

    Congratulations on thinking for yourself.

    1. Thanks. I do think my past mistakes allow me to play Virgil to America's Dante.

  2. I used to be a Republican, and voted for Bush in 2000. I really was not prepared to believe what was really going on. I dismissed the arguments of the anti war left telling myself I understood corruption in terms of lobbyists bribes, nepotism, pork barrel funding, and such. But the left was asking me to believe the Republicans were Bond movie villains. I thought our leaders were better people than that. And then I watched it happen. And I wondered what else I had been lied to about. Turns out, everything. And I became an atheist. Was it Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman, or was it that the polite mainline denomination I used to attend doesn't have the balls to publicly shame them for their heresy? There's a saying that apostates are the intellectually honest true believers. I think I read that at Frank's blog. Another weird thing, you ever hear a conservative accuse you in exasperated tone that 'liberals think everything is racism'? That's because there is so much goddamn racism. It's like The Matrix or They Live. Once you know what it looks like you can't stop seeing it. It's literally everywhere. I'll close with Vonnegut's ending to Deadeye Dick. The Dark Ages never ended. This is still a Dark Age.

  3. I'll state the obvious, Godwin be damned: Dick Cheney is clearly a character on the order of Heinrich Himmler or Joseph Goebbels. He has not one shred of morality and would do and say anything to get his way. It is only an accident of history that he will soon be dead and forgotten, while Himmler and Goebbels will eternally be remembered as specimens of the utmost evil.

    1. He is THE reason why I think we need to join the ICC. I actually want there to be a threat of prison out there for people like him.

  4. A long time ago someone said "oh watch out, the conservatives are having all the babies and the liberals are not." And I said "I have more faith in my fellow man then that. Because LBJ was a huge racist but he still signed the Civil Rights Act. People can change, or at least, do the right thing."

    Having been an office holder, I know it is not as easy as one thinks to do the right thing in office yet he did. So I am not surprised that slowly but surely the right wing in this country will whittle down once again as more people see the light.

    That said, the journey there is going to suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.

  5. its been quite a while since this went up... but i am still interested in this bit "I wrote about her trip to Taliban-held Afghanistan here, and I will write about the entire tale in greater detail this week."

    did that story ever make it up?

    1. It never did, no. My definition of "this week" is the same as God's.

      Sorry. Seriously though, that story haunts me, and it will be part of something bigger someday.

    2. I'll keep my eye out for it - i am not surprised it would be haunting. even so, i think it is a story that should be told. Thanks for the reply.


    3. /edit - i hope the bigger story is the 'how i got from there to here' as well; i know there are a few on the webs (very few) who once were conservative/republican, and for various reasons recanted. the reasons are not always the same but all fascinate me.


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