3 – 0 In The Only Polls That Count

Today, Tony Blair’s Labor Party is widely expected to win a plurality in Commons and keep Blair in his seat as Prime Minister.

That’s 3 – 0 for Western pro-war candidates.

Atrios may be crowing over a CNN poll showing 57% of those polled did not see the war as worth it…but in the only polls that count, the voters seem to feel differently.

And Duncan, the next time you raise the tired “chickenhawk” argument against Jonah Goldberg, I’m gonna ask you why your boss – who supports higher taxes on the rich – doesn’t just pay them.

Of course it’s a nonsensical and insulting argument, but no more nonsensical or insulting than yours.

47 thoughts on “3 – 0 In The Only Polls That Count”

  1. And Duncan, the next time you raise the tired “chickenhawk” argument against Jonah Goldberg, I’m gonna ask you why your boss – who supports higher taxes on the rich – doesn’t just pay them.

    Terrible analogy. Soros and others who support higher taxes presumably will pay them willingly once Congress changes the tax code. People like Jonah Goldberg refuse to fight even though the war they proposed has been a reality for years.

    Why is it “nonsensical” to argue that young men who want their country to fight a war have some moral obligation to perform military service?

  2. Because the argument can be easily extended to mean that only those in the armed forces should get a voice in any war decision, pro or con. Do these folks really want a “Starship Trooper” polity?

    It can also be extended to police protection. You should never call for more police protection in your neighborhood unless you dawn the blue yourself, right?

    What about cleaning clogged sewerers? It’s not fair for some random government employee to clean you clogged sewer is it? You better get your shovel.

    Are these enough examples? Or do you need more?

  3. Here’s another example…

    You don’t have a right to vote in a political election if you have never served in public office.
    After all, how can someone who has never served in government bureaucracy possible be knowledgeable enough to make decisions on who should run those bureaucracies?

    I get sick of that tired “You haven’t served, so you don’t have a right to an opinion” attitude. It’s a weak argument made by weak minds.

  4. I think the problem is that Jonah took the bait at some point and actually issued an excuse to the hecklers, probably in one of his “Dr. Cole does not speak Arabic” fits of inspiration. Anyways, it’s a lame arguement in most cases.

    On the other hand, vietnam era chickenhawks (pro-war and draft dodging)– such as the president, VP or butt-boil Rush, deserve all the derision they can get.

  5. Felt is was a pretty weak analogy too. Really made no sense to me at all (still working on my second cup). And I definately see no problem with pulling out the chickenhawk meme, it is a rich and bountiful vien of hypocrisy, lies and as SAO pointed out – applies to all thosewho sent our young off to die.

  6. I see a big problem with the chickenhawk meme. It is an ad hominem attack that purely seeks to shut down discussion rather than to further it.

    As I said, it is a weak argument for weak minds.

    There are plenty of ways to disagree with the WOT, etc. without resorting to “Well, you never served, so your opinion is evil, worthless and hypocritical.”

    Here’s another thing that bugs the ever lovin hell out of me…
    Why is it acceptable and even admirable for someone who has never served in a war, to be against the war. After all, the same logic should apply to both sides. If you haven’t served, you shouldn’t have an opinion, period.

    If crying “chickenhawk” is a line of argument you subscribe to (and I don’t)- then you really should just shut your mouth if you have never served – no matter what side you are on.

  7. Counting chickens (or chicken-hawks) before they hatch?

    Or perhaps it is simply a case of seeking some kind of external validation for a particular view in which ones own belief is shaky.

  8. OK, maybe it’s just me but….this post relates to the earlier one today that AL did titled “The Void”….which made me react by wanting to place this comment, “two words-Tony Blair”.

    All along, there has been an obviously interesting thing that Blair has, which is a combination of social liberalism with conservative foreign policy. THAT’s all the dems had to do last time around was come out directly in full support of the foreign policy on Iraq, and then make the entire rest of the election about the domestic agenda.

    Why they felt that they couldn’t do that is the real question in my mind…….always has been. Where’s our Tony Blair in the world of US politics?

  9. Ironicus is right. 3-1.

    And the Chickenhawk argument fails because of the nature of democracy itself.

    All citizens have responsibility for oversight re: all branches and functions of government. Which means they get an opinion, and the ability to sway others. Elitists have issues with that concept, which might carry more weight if it wasn’t for the fact that decision-by-elites seems to have a poorer track record. For reasons that many political theorists could easily explain.

    Likewise, federal representatives are specifically tasked with making decisions on war and peace. This is called doing their job, and if their qualifications in this area a problem, you should have done something about that at election time.

    The fact that these concepts are difficult for the Left to grasp doesn’t surprise me. Funny how the argument wasn’t much in use when draft-dodger Clinton was in office, though.

  10. I’m glad Blair is winning, but I think the districting in Britain is such that he could hardly lose unless he was facing a strong unified opposition, instead of Tories and Froot Loops.

    So two cheers for Tony Blair, one cheer for so-called parliamentary democracy. And the queen, and the rest of that stuff.

  11. Joe,

    Yes, Yes, (jumping up and down)

    And one wonders of the people of spain would have a different view, if they knew going into the polls what they know today.

    Not that I am not aware of the damage the socialists have already done to the sprirt of those people.

  12. Glen, Yes, the range of their choices is not the best.

    Look at the fools choices they had in late Weimar Germany, the mass murdering Bolshvic Socialists, the soon to be mass murdering National Socialists, and the Comic Opera Prince Aristocrats.

    Where was the Classical Liberals ? (not commie Liberals)

    What political faction in Britain could you call Classical Liberals ?

    Their choices are little better than Germanys (in terms of having good vs bad choices, dont flog me over what I am not saying here)

    In Austriala they have at least The Classical Liberal Howard govt vs marxist Labor, who would take being called a liberal as an insult)

    The british tories are a rather poor alternative, untill they get the freedom thing, perhaps they deserve to lose.

    The republicans have done an important thing by developing the Freedom-Forward message of Goldwater and Reagan (who are not entirely its authors even if they manned the pulpit)

    This Classical Liberalism shaped us as what we are just as much as the socialist hell holes on the other side of the cold war defined what we are not, and never want to become.

    Why is such seem to be so missing in Britain?

    Perhaps they need to cut off the BBC, before any real voices of freedom can survive there.

  13. That particular retort is a bit of a nonsequitar, but the original question is a nonsequitar as well. The proper retort is, ‘Do you really want only the military to vote in the next election?’, then remind them how heavilly the military went for Bush in 04. Much like Lincoln in 1864, Bush’s margin of victory may well have been the military he sent to war.

  14. To make it clear, writing from Britain, this isn’t really a strongly pro-war vote for Blair (though he will win). The main opposition party, the Conservatives, originally supported the war now, so their “he lied to us” approach has much less effectiveness than it might if they had been a true opposition. As it is, the only party offering an anti-war stance is polling at 23% and is relatively far-left, so many voters who oppose the war don’t have a choice in the matter. Also, every poll on Blair himself is showing that majorities dont trust him and think he misled the country about Iraq.

    Yes, Blair will win. Yes, he was pro-war. But this is not a pro-war victory, more than it is a selection of the incumbent because the opponents are not credible to voters in a wide enough range of issues, regardless of their stance on the war.

  15. Joe,

    All citizens have responsibility for oversight re: all branches and functions of government. Which means they get an opinion, and the ability to sway others. Elitists have issues with that concept, which might carry more weight if it wasn’t for the fact that decision-by-elites seems to have a poorer track record. For reasons that many political theorists could easily explain.

    I happen to agree wholly with this statement. But I have a family member who believes that the elites of China will end of making better decisions than the people of India. We placed a bet on this over Pesach – in the next 50 years, I said that India would be doing better than China. I’m curious as to what your opinion is of the best book to lay out this case so that I can try to convince him preemptively.

  16. Since there are a few war presidents without military service (FDR, Wilson, Lincoln (in comparison with Gen. McClellan)), I assume that “chickenhawk” is a form of Vietnam nostalgia.


  17. Ariel,

    I would just take him to one of Winds of Change.NET’s posts. I wouldn’t be betting against you, and our “round-up re: the future of China”:http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/006670.php is why.

    Hayek and other economists made the point that no human being can have enough information to keep up with a modern economy. Spreading the set to an elite instead of one dictator ameliorates but doesn’t solve this problem, and adds factionalism without good reconciliation mechanisms other than raw power-plays.

    Interests are a related issue. Even assuming good intentions (a big assume) humans will default to the reference frameworks they know, which are generally their own interests and environs (vid. “Public Choice Economics”). This may not correspond with societal interests. Which is why lots of “dumb” people often make smarter decisions than the technocrats – the diversity hits far more informatin points and interests, thus giving the system what a cyberneticist would call greater “requisite variety.”

    This does not bode well for a system will as many bubbling problem sets as China. India will look messier and some issues won’t solve as fast. But you’re betting 50 years – and in 50 years, the differences above will tell.

    Of course, if China is a free country in 50 years, then the premise of my reasoning is invalid. Fortunately, at that point so is the premise of the bet.

  18. AL: I think Ironicus is right. This is 3-1 for Western pro-war candidates. Aznar lost, though I’m not sure the Spanish are totally happy with their choice of a replacement. If we want to give a more respectful nod to the growing Eastern Hemisphere, we should really make the score 3-2 because of the ouster of Kim in South Korea, though the motives behind that ouster were probably far more domestic in nature (and subsequently vindicated by the idiotic attempt by Kim’s party in parliament to impeach the new president on trumped-up charges, which sparked a backlash nearly annihilating the party).

    I’m going to be very interested in the fortunes of the major Western anti-war candidates. I hear Schroeder isn’t faring so well, and Chirac might not survive another go-round if he’s up against a more credible candidate than Le Pen next time. (Putin, of course, will only retire when he chooses.)

  19. Brian

    Yes, its important to remember the brit public is bugger brained on the issue of iraq, Perhaps Tony is even better government than they deserve.


    I say India is a good bet, if for no other reason than real freedom develops self correcting mechanisms via feedback, and if they have full information openess so the public can make good decisions ..

    Something Britain lacks, constant propaganda from state funded blood stained leftists is a bad environment to make good decisions in.

    China on the other hand will make choices based on the maintinace of power,
    (the same thing that guides the left generally) and i doubt that will produce what can be measured as success, well, Unless you are Kim Jong Il.

  20. I’m active duty. I enlisted under Clinton, re-enlisted under Clinton, was on Stop-Loss for about 90 days after my second enlisted ended (in 2002). I ended up re-enlisting for six, after deciding to make the military my career.

    However, I haven’t been sent overseas; haven’t volunteered, but haven’t done anything to avoid it. My number just hasn’t been called. Since I haven’t served in combat, does this “chickenhawk” thing apply to me?


  21. Joe, Applause.

    Postrel groups all that under trial and feedback, as the mechanisms that make a Free society and the free market function so well. Prices as signals etc.

    And yes, freedom is messy and untidy, its unpredictable and counfounds fustrates and offends the sensibilities of the elite utopian social planners who think their own iron boot on the necks of the unwashed is the cure for his own angst.

    Quantum uncertainty might be a hard proof for particles, but it certainly applies to humans, and counfounds the socialist dream of the perfected man.

    Lets hear it for untidyness and dirt, and give it its due.

  22. Joe #21,

    Of course, if China is a free country in 50 years, then the premise of my reasoning is invalid. Fortunately, at that point so is the premise of the bet.

    Yes, our bet did have provisions such that if China became a free country, we would not consider the bet to be valid. (Likewise if India became a totalitarian dictatorship or if either country was destroyed.)

    I figured you might suggest Hayek. I’ll suggest that to him though I’m wondering if he’s read it – he’s a sociology PhD candidate who’s very much into economics. He deeply believes that elites can make decisions better, since people will fall in line with the decisions that are made; he has that fascination with order and dictatorship that many of his persuasion seem to have.

    Raymond #23,

    I, for one, can’t understand why the funding of the BBC is not a political issue in the UK, even after they were demonstrably siding against Blair and probably contributed to the suicide/death of a scientist in their quest to show that Blair lied.

  23. Not going to Iraq is not exactly unpopular in Germany or France. Nor is it a reason to switch parties.

    ps. Didn’t Denmark hold elections

  24. Ariel, 26: the bigger complaint over here has not been about the BBC and Blair, of late, but BBC and the Tories. Several outside investigations, albeit ones done by conservative organizations, found that BBC was biased against the Conservative Party. And recent, the BBC was caught inserting hecklers at a Conservative event to “aid” in a documentary they were filming on political protests.

    The BBC has, I argue, grown so full of itself (dwarfing all American media outlets for self-importance) that it feels it is above accountability on any issue–just try finding good explanations from the BBC on the heckler issue for example. This is not, I think, epidemic of public funds-supported news organizations (as I strongly support PBS and NPR), but a sign of what happens when the public-supported media is the premier outlet and faces little in the way of serious competition.

  25. Brian #28,

    I had heard about that as well. Given all that the BBC has done, I’m amazed to hear that there is so little questioning of their funds. Many people I know who are from the UK or India seem to view the BBC’s views as sacrosanct – and given the institutional stance of the BBC on many issues I hold dear, that’s problematic.

  26. bq. What political faction in Britain could you call Classical Liberals ?

    Some elements in the Conservative Party, and some in UKIP. Unfortunately, the current Tory leadership isn’t. Tax cuts? We’ll give you £4b worth! Of a budget of over £600b! Wow! And better yet, we won’t cut funding to the state – we’re just going to be more efficient.

    To name but one reason why I didn’t vote Tory…

  27. Yeah Brian

    the range from PBS to the mainsteam media is that from Maoist-Stalinist flavored trotsky to fabian trotsky with sprinkled affections for Castro and Kim Jong Il.

    We have Fox that is populated with 99% democrats but are called right wing extremists because they actually let them speak.

    And we have some right wingers on AM radio.
    and we have the ability to vent on the internet.

    Much to the dismay of the left who want to shut all that down somehow.

    The message of freedom has found an outlet on AM Radio and the internet and the leftist Lies dont pass unchallenged anymore.

    It took us 30 years to turn things around, I hope the Brits dont have to wait as long. but it will probably be a long time before you get your guns back.

    The no guns slave-mind mentality of the helpless is as much responsible for the brit dysfunction over Iraq as the commie propaganda.

    I read this “blog”:http://medienkritik.typepad.com/blog for insight into germany, it seems they suffer under much the same.

    Perhaps the voices of freedom might be heard over there some day, but it looks like a long climb out of the abys from here and you look still in mid dive into the singularity.

    Is there any hope for the Brits ? Europe ?

    Dont look good from here.

  28. Jonah Goldberg was dumb enough to say this:

    bq. As for why my sorry a** isn’t in the kill zone, lots of people think this is a searingly pertinent question. No answer I could give — I’m 35 years old, my family couldn’t afford the lost income, I have a baby daughter, my a** is, er, sorry, are a few — ever seem to suffice.

    Leaving himself open for a whole new round of mockery when the age cap was raised even after people got tired of asking him if he knew of any soldiers with baby daughters.

  29. Ariel

    bq. _”I, for one, can’t understand why the funding of the BBC is not a political issue in the UK, even after they were demonstrably siding against Blair and probably contributed to the suicide/death of a scientist in their quest to show that Blair lied”_

    They are the hang mans noose that is pointed to for example. Getting rid of the opposition leaves one without argument to stand on philosophy. Convincing others now becomes more of a chore.

  30. Raymond- not to lead you along with false hopes of finding a convert, but I stand on pretty much the opposite side of the issue as you on the media, having been a former “liberal” journalist myself.

    But I’m always open to finding out about missteps media outlets make, especially if it involves actively misleading people or obscuring facts to create illusions of truth. So thanks for the notice on PBS, I’ll look into that, especially since I’ve been following recently the Republican-appointed head of PBS’s attempts to create more “balance”

  31. “A BBC/ITV exit poll indicates Mr Blair’s majority could be reduced to 66 – compared with 167 in 2001.”

    Perhaps if it wasn’t for opposition to the Iraq war, Labor would not have taken such a slide in the past 4 years?

    Simply can’t see why one would be so quick to try to interpret this election outcome as a validation of Blair’s support for Bush’s war.

  32. MDP, you wrote: Soros and others who support higher taxes presumably will pay them willingly once Congress changes the tax code.

    I don’t share your optimism on this. Soros is a convicted inside trader (but fled and never served a sentence in France) and a massively destructive manipulator of currency markets. Why you think he would willingly pay the higher taxes he supports is beyond me … he has a complex and very sophisticated structure to his financial empire to avoid doing just that.

  33. I agree Blimey. I’ve been watching nonstop election coverage for the past 4 hours, and we’re seeing two trends: a huge swing from Labour to Liberal Democrats (though the LDs arent picking up new seats, just more votes), and several Conservative upsets of Labour, including a constituency in London which saw a 4% swing. This election is a double referendum. It’s a referendum on Blair, which is responsible for much of Labour’s problems, and it is a referendum on Labour as a domestic government, which is why labour is still being returned to office. Case in point, Chancellor Gordon Brown, Blair’s heir apparent. Despite Labour losses in vote percentages in nearly every seat, Brown actually widened his margin of victory over 2001, because he is seen as responsible for the economic success of Britain, whereas Blair is associated with lapdog politics and Iraq.

  34. Matthew Tglesias has a post covering “chickenhawks” a while ago. FWIW, my take on the chickenhawk argument

    “Why so many otherwise great & good liberals have latched onto the “chickenhawk” meme is I think very interesting. IMO, It is a big-time case of projection. The main reason for the decline of liberalism politically and culturally is its post-Vietnam alientation from the military. The alienation is, to a disturbing degree, mutual, deep-seated, and very hard to bridge. . .

  35. Brian, since the PBS scandal is about six years old, the news articles are archived off, but here are some references to it:
    Here’s one story. another reference. and a third.

    On the chickenhawk silliness, don’t forget that we learned from CBS’s whitewash investigation of its publication of forged memos that Mary Mapes actually found a witness that told her that George W. Bush volunteered to go to Vietnam when his unit sent a fighter squadron there but was turned down as not senior enough. Mapes suppressed that discovery – and thereby added to the huge pile of evidence of her maliciousness.

    The bottom line is that using the slur on the President is a lie.

  36. Mr Roberts, since when has the left let facts get in the way of a good smear job ?


    What polar opposite form of “Liberal” would that be ?

    In the USA “Liberals” tout planks out of the comunist manifesto, they would be called “labor” in Austrial or Britain, or social – democrat / socialist in Spain Germany etc.

    Does make it confusing

    The Austrialian Liberal Howard, if in office in America, would be tagged a conservative and would be a rebublican and called by the USA Liberals a “Right Wing Extremist”

    So, what polarity is a “Liberal” in Britain , The Liberal Democrats ? Commie Liberal ? Or Classical Liberal ?

    The Liberals here dont know s**t about Liberty. except that everything they are for comes against it.

  37. All you idiots whining about us “chickenhawks” supporting the war but not actually being in the army are nuts. Would you rather have the people who ARE in the army make all the decisions? In that case, we wouldn’t be in Iraq now, we would have finished the job in 1992, Iran next, then hello Libya and Saudi!

    You hear one enlisted man with cold feet complaining and you think the whole army is against the war? LOL! Give ‘em half a chance and they’ll hand the whole Persian Gulf to us in 6 months flat, and no cameras allowed.

    What a bunch of BS.


  38. Claiming the UK General Election result is an endorsement of the war is inane.

    It could be considered insulting, but only by those who typically regard your opinions as having merit.

  39. Duncan, since the opponents of the war would have heralded a loss by Blair as a vindication of their anti-war positions, it is not unreasonable for the reverse to be heralded. So, I’m afraid it is your statement that is silly.

  40. But Blair didn’t win. He just didn’t loose enough to be forced out of the goverment which is something else.

  41. A little late to the party here, but…

    On Chickenhawks – Sorry everyone, but Aaron Haspel had the absolute last word on this silly slur over two years ago.

    On Brtain’s Election – It’s kind of ironic to see Marc suggesting that this somehow translates to support of the Iraq war right after a very sensible post on Wicked Problems. I think he needs to go back and re-read his own words. There are far too many variables at work here to make such a sweeping pronouncement.

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