DAVID BRIN's world of ideas

OSTRICH HUNTING: The Bill Clinton Gambit

By David Brin, Ph.D.

So let's finish up. Onward, with more skewers for hypocrites. (Remember, don't simply ask your Ostrich to read all this. They will skim. Their minds will veer. Memorize the example you think will have the most impact on your ostrich, then recite it. Repeatedly. Until your ostrich finally hears.) Let's continue laying down a long list of thought experiments for you to insist that your ostrich try on for size.

ADDENDUM (added 7/29/08): Documented fact: During the last 4 Republican presidencies, more officials have been indicted for major crimes, or resigned to avoid indictment, than in all previous administrations in American history. 53 indictments or resignations during the Nixon administration, 137 indictments or resignations during the Reagan administration, including the attorney general Ed Meese, who was convicted and served time. And so far in excess of 128 resignations or investigations of corruption or gross incompetence during the current administration. Compare with 2 indictments during Kennedy's & Lyndon Johnson's administrations (Billy Sol Estes, Bobby Baker), 2 indictments under Jimmy Carter (Bert Lance, Hamilton Jordan), and zero indictments under Bill Clinton -- despite 6 years of investigation into Whitewater and so-called "travelgate" and everything else that a billion wasted dollars a a million wasted man-hours could point to... none of which never uncovered a single verifiable crime...

... making the Clinton Administration almost the only completely blemish-free era in US history.

The standard GOP excuse for failing to indict even one Clinton official for actual misconduct of office? "The Clintons were good at hiding it!" Really? That good? Hiding their crimes so well that 14 years of investigations costing a billion dollars and bringing to bear all three (GOP controlled) branches of government and the radio lynchmob, relentlessly looking for proof, or a smoking gun, could not nail even ONE Clinton official, ever? Not one whistle-blower turning evidence for those lavish rewards offered?

Well then wow, they must have been smart, REALLY smart! In fact, such brains and competence might be consistent with the well-managed economy, efficient governance and world leadership of that era. So... what was your complaint again?

MORE OSTRICH BAIT (added 7/1/08)

Imagine how a Republican might feel if - late in the Clinton Administration - the Justice Department's own Inspector General reported that Clinton's White House staff had meddled with nearly all Justice Department hiring decisions, ending the traditional practice of hiring and promoting on advice from neutral commissions and instead applying blatant political tests, transforming the U.S.J.D. into a massive, private law firm serving one political party... relentlessly ignoring crimes by their "side" and pursuing vendettas against the other.

If This happened under Bill Clinton, and only fiercely partisan liberal Democrats were allowed inside Justice, would you have called it a scandal? But the Inspector General says that this did NOT happen under Clinton. It happened under Bush and the Republicans. So where's your righteous sense of anger?

Visit the Bureau of Economic Analysis (http://www.bea.gov/) and check out Table 3.9.1. Percent Change From Preceding Period in Real Government Consumption Expenditures and Gross Investment. In summary:

  • G.W. Bush Grew the National Government by 27.3%
  • Clinton "Grew" the National Government by -10.8% (that is an 11% shrinkage.)
  • G H W Bush Grew the National Government by 1.6%
  • Reagan grew the National Government by 33.9%
  • Carter grew the National Government by 11.7%

Fact: Accusations that democrats represent big government, fiscal irresponsibility or runaway debt are simply lies. Big lies. Giant whopping lies.

[image from all about jazz]

What would you Limbaugh dittoheads have said if Bill Clinton tried 1% of this #%#$@#!? Since our national guard units are in Iraq, Bush wants the Canadian military to put down rebellions in the U.S.: "In a ceremony that received virtually no attention in the American media, the United States and Canada signed a military agreement Feb. 14 allowing the armed forces from one nation to support the armed forces of the other nation during a domestic civil emergency, even one that does not involve a cross-border crisis. The agreement, defined as a Civil Assistance Plan, was not submitted to Congress for approval, nor did Congress pass any law or treaty specifically authorizing this military agreement to combine the operations of the armed forces of the United States and Canada in the event of a wide range of domestic civil disturbances ranging from violent storms, to health epidemics, to civil riots or terrorist attacks."

Does an ostrich ever get tired of hearing the same incantations, over and over? Like "the next six months are crucial!" Well, the Center for American Progress has a terrific timeline of "next few months" statements about the Iraq war. Show it, then ask for a final, utter deadline.

What if Bill Clinton tried to put the U.S. military's lawyers, judges, auditors and investigators all under direct control of Democratic Party operatives and political appointees personally loyal to him? (For more on the plight of the US Officer Corps, see this story.)

What if Bill Clinton appointed, to head our nation's Department of Homeland Security, a partisan hack who spent many years working in and for the country that most of the 9/11 hijackers came from? Providing security for -- among others -- close relatives of Osama bin Laden? A man then accused of (and later indicted for) selling official favors to mob-connected figures? Would you have called that "scandalous? That is... if Bill Clinton did it?

What if a Democratic administration handed almost a quarter of a million U.S. weapons over to a shady middle-eastern businessman, to be used in building up an Iraqi police force, only to let that crony turn the armory into "his own private arms bazaar, with the seeming approval of some American officials and executives, selling AK-47 assault rifles, Glock pistols and heavy machine guns to anyone with cash in hand," including sectarian groups that later fought U.S. troops?

What if, in the middle of a declared state of dire emergency and an ongoing war -- one that used-up American ground forces and devastated the budget -- a Democratic President (say, FDR or Clinton) were to regularly walk away from his job and take more days off than any other president in history? Even exceeding the record set by Ronald Reagan? Reaching this milestone with a whole year left before his term ran out? Would you Have let Bill Clinton get away with hurling our forces into harm's way, then turning his back to hang out with cronies for weeks at a stretch, on their new, mega-ranches? Of course you wouldn't.

What if Bill Clinton appointed, as Inspector General in a war zone, a corrupt crony who would finally come under investigation by several government agencies for massive mismanagement and waste? What if Clinton then proved this was no accident, by appointing another corrupt, inept crony to be IG of the State Department... and another, and then dozens, scores of unqualified, incompetent or criminal "inspectors" to serve in each cabinet agency as "watchdogs" charged with sniffing out fraud, misconduct, self-dealing, waste. If Bill Clinton had done this even once, wouldn't you have demanded impeachment? Does twenty times make it somehow okay?

A BBC investigation estimates that around $23bn (£11.75bn) may have been lost, stolen or just not properly accounted for in Iraq. "For the first time, the extent to which some private contractors have profited from the conflict and rebuilding has been researched by the BBC's Panorama using US and Iraqi government sources.... A US gagging order is preventing discussion of the allegations..... And example cited in the article: "In the run-up to the invasion one of the most senior officials in charge of procurement in the Pentagon objected to a contract potentially worth seven billion that was given to Halliburton, a Texan company, which used to be run by Dick Cheney before he became vice-president. Unusually only Halliburton got to bid - and won."

In fact, this is the tip of the iceberg. Arguably THE biggest reason for the war may have been the excuse it offered, to bypass normal contracting rules using "emergency" clauses in the law. Now look back at how the far-right howled over the UN's "Oil for Food" program and some possible graft that might have added up, over a decade, to a billion dollars. Where is the same indignation over theft that directly betrayed our troops in the field, amounting to tens and even hundreds of times as much?


  • systematically dismantled dozens of independent scientific panels, including all of those charged with advising Congress? Then stocked the remaining panels with second-rate shills who are despised, all across the scientific community?

  • allowed major special interests to write the administration's energy and other policies?

  • spent 13 years blocking energy research that might have helped America wean its addiction to foreign oil?

  • poured most of the remaining energy "research" money into agri-business ventures closely linked to cronies and political allies?

[image from Wunderground]


  • first denied the existence of a looming threat to our climate, then pressured government and independent scientists to censor their reports, then claimed "the jury is still out and we need more research"...

  • while slashing climate research budgets...

  • and then, finally, after years of delay, when the proof-of-danger was too blatant to ignore any longer, blithely did a complete and dizzying 180 reversal, suddenly calling human-generated climate change "a dire international crisis"?

What if they did all that and then, abruptly, claimed "We NEVER denied that humans are causing dangerous global warming!"

Self-Check: Wouldn't that affect a whole movement's credibility? Shouldn't it? (That is, if the guys who did all that happened to be democrats.)


  • praised and supported and encouraged Saddam Hussein for decades? Then fought to eject him from Kuwait, only to prop him back up and protect him, yet again? Then, after leaving him to brutalize Iraqis for 12 more years, finally decided to go after him -- in the stupidest way possible?

  • praised and supported and encouraged Osama bin Laden? Armed and helped him gain power in Afghanistan. Then, finally decided to go after him, declaring "We'll never rest till he is brought to justice!" Only later, quietly disbanded the CIA unit trying to find him?

Self-Check: Whatever the solution to Iraq and the Middle East may be, one thing is certain. Any bozos who did the kinds of things listed above don't deserve to prescribe anything! Democrat or Republican, they would have no credibility. No right to preach or "decide." None at all.

If our aim is to save America, and possibly western civilization, shall we put our faith in Democratic politicians to squeak a narrow win in 2008? Trusting the neocons not to pull another sneaky trick, like on 2000 or 2004? Is that really a safe bet?

Or will America's majority of progressive moderates be the smart ones, this time? By taking it upon themselves to tear apart Karl Rove's Big Tent Coalition. By stealing that weird cabal's most important and (somewhat) admirable members. Those obstinate but mostly decent "Dole Goldwater Republicans" who frantically ignore what conservatism has become. Hijacked, mutated, and steered toward treason by a bona fide criminal gang.

Remember, each "ostrich" who wakens -- like members of the officer corps -- may turn and waken others. An avalanche is possible. But it must start somewhere.

It may also mean having to negotiate with wakened ostriches. Offering some compromises that would suit Robert Dole... though never Rush Limbaugh. Still, that's a small price for sending the rest of Rove's coalition -- fanatics and thieves -- into the wilderness. Far better than leaving them in charge of a major political party.

It could also end "culture war" and save the next presidency.


  • encouraged us to be far more afraid of vague "terrorists" than we were ever afraid of a monstrous communist empire, bristling with tens of thousands of hair-trigger nuclear weapons?

  • vastly increased government secrecy, to levels never seen before, not even when we were in a life/death struggle against the Soviet KGB? (Would you have wondered if the president was doing it in order to hide misdeeds? You bet you would have! That is, if it were a democrat.)

  • engaged in illegal wiretapping schemes, spying on American citizens and interfering with their rights?

  • appointed scores of US attorneys who were openly partisan Democrats, then fired a few of them for not going after Republicans harshly enough? (Would you wonder about the remaining ones, who weren't fired? Worrying what kind of a country you are living in, when a majority of US attorneys are acceptable to such a partisan regime?)

Would you have put up with all this if done by Bill Clinton? Not a chance! So, why do you parrot Fox News excuses for George Bush, who actually did all of these things?


One who put 100,000 extra police officers directly onto America's streets while setting in place procedures to ensure their professionalism? Then oversaw the steepest drop in crime in American history?

Or one who presided over the biggest increase in homicides and other violent crime in decades?

One who vigorously pursued organized crime and helped cities to reduce gang activity?

Or one who diverted the Justice Department from pursuing organized crime (a 38% drop in cases), drug-related money laundering (25% reduction), bank robbery (18% less), and white collar crime (10% drop) and bankruptcy fraud (prosecutions reduced by 48%).

One who reassigned priorities from small-time drug users to hitting the Drug Lords?

Or one who reassigned priorities to rounding up small fry users, while our prisons burst at the seams with scant federal help? Then went on to give unprecedented top priority to obscenity and pornography cases?

One who profoundly augmented the Border Patrol, during his first months in office, while also preaching racial tolerance.

Or one who, while publicly calling for tighter immigration controls, in fact, acted to cripple the Border Patrol during his first term, so his backers would have access to cheap, undocumented labor? Then, with his base in rebellion, swerved around in his last two years in office, restoring the ravaged Border Patrol and engaging in an anti-immigrant jihad?

Do we really have to spell out which one was Bill Clinton, and which was George W. Bush?


  • taken every bill passed by the Newt Gingrich Congress and signed it, while scribbling in the margins that "this bill means only what I say it means"? Would that have angered you?

  • reversed his party's long commitment to "states rights"by asserting federal supremacy over every state law, to a degree never before seen, even under Franklin Roosevelt?

  • Would that have raised your hackles, denouncing Clinton as "undermining the Constitution and grabbing power?" Ah but Clinton didn't do any of that. Bush has. So, any denunciations?

  • What if Bill Clinton's FEMA, after a major regional disaster, held a "news conference" at which the administrator welcomed "the press"... but none were present? Only employees who asked scripted "questions"? Would you have called that a symptom of inherent Clintonite deceitfulness and cowardice?

Of course we'd all agree that, after terrorism struck America hard, it was proper to shift substantial attention toward that threat. (I do a lot of consulting, for several agencies, about future, almost science-fictional dangers, and let me assure you that many of our professionals are very serious and smart!)

Nevertheless, after six years, shouldn't the party in charge have allocated enough resources to cover this need and let us get back to fighting regular crime? The kind of crime with victims? The kind that affects life in America, every single day?

And what about those FBI and Justice agents who were re-assigned from normal duties, during the first six months of the Bush Administration, and set to work fruitlessly searching for Clinton Era "smoking guns"? Men and women who could have been, well, looking for threats to America? Can a person wrap any kind or excuse around that? Any at all?


  • delivered eight years of relative peace, fiscal responsibility (with more surpluses and buying-down of debt than the rest of US history, combined), and delivered good management (according to JD Powers and other neutral auditing agencies), while reducing federal paperwork and non defense manpower?

  • kept US forces at high readiness and high morale by closely heeding the advice of professional officers, while getting taxpayers their money's worth by fiercely enforcing lawful oversight and competitive contracting rules?

  • and, when a time came to apply military force, did so in strict accordance with the Powell Doctrine, accompanying overwhelming surgical force with skillful diplomacy, achieving all goals quickly, with low civilian casualties and zero loss of American life? (Yes, this is mentioned many times. Perhaps because no one else is mentioning it at all.)

  • oversaw the greatest surge of wealth -- among all social classes -- in history, including the formation of more new small businesses than ever? With vastly better performance of the stock market and every other economic indicator?

  • despite fervid, paranoid and totally unproved accusations, kept reducing government secrecy? (Hardly the behavior of people with a lot to hide.)

  • left office (for the first time in US history) with not a single administration official going to jail for malfeasance in the performance of his or her official duties? In fact -- despite fevered accusations -- without a single administration official being convicted or even indicted over official duties? This despite several billion dollars spent on witch hunts by the opposition (much of it out of taxpayer pockets)?

What if America's world popularity skyrocketed to unprecedented levels, during that time, with all but China, Russia, France and a few Muslim states agreeing tacitly to a US-led "unipolar" world?

Judging entirely according to these "conservative" standards, would you have put up with such goings on, if they were perpetrated by Bill Clinton...?

Oops... trick question. In fact, all of these things did happen under Clinton, not Bush.

Let's get this straight. You were fuming for all eight Clinton years. Yet, when all these things were diametrically reversed by the Bush Administration, you and Fox News make excuses.

Um.... Is it possible that you mean something different by "patriotism" and "conservatism" than we thought?

[image from Documentary Z]

Oh... but it keeps getting worse.

Okay, in trying to offer a comprehensive political tool, I've worried this bone down to the marrow.

By now, you know what to do with this long list of hypocrisy skewers. In attempting to wear down an ostrich, persistence is everything. It may take all of these contradictions, before the state of denial finally erodes, to be replaced by anger.

To be replaced by fury over how conservatism has been hijacked by a bona fide criminal gang.


  • insisted that it was just fine for two companies, run by a pair of extreme-partisan brothers, to manufacture the nation's voting machines, never submitting their software code for open testing, obstructing paper trails or auditing, while lobbying for state laws that forbid exit polling as a last ditch way to verify election results? Wouldn't that combination make you a little, well, paranoid? That is, if democrats did it.

  • kept buying up newspapers, radio stations and television outlets, aided by rule changes that allow just a few men to control most of the news Americans get to hear? Fabulously rich men who are actively and relentlessly partisan?

  • let politically connected companies control the FDA, write laws, pick the inspectors who regulate them, and allowed Big Tobacco to settle court judgements for one penny on the dollar?

Self-check: Admit it! If Clintonite Democrats had done any of these things, you'd be up in arms! So why are you ignoring it now?

[image from io9]

If you plan to be an ostrich hunter, be sure and distinguish between five types of Republican! Because four kinds are a complete waste of time.

  1. The owners and thieves themselves. Insiders, benefiting from the Great Klepto Raid. Or their high-paid shills. I doubt you'll meet any of these. Anyway, they already know all this. Having sold America, their priority now is evading accountability. (Don't fret, they'll be taken care of, ironically, by their own children.)

  2. Fanatics and dogmatists. Not all bad news, here. Some of the sincere religious are starting to see the light. Be welcoming. But you lack the charisma, incantations, or credentials to be their agent of change.

  3. The narrowminded variety of libertarians who can see just one threat to freedom -- bureaucrats. Ignoring history, this oversimplifying silliness has rendered libertarianism a joke, in the one country where it had a chance. Pity. (Steer them toward Ron Paul! A decent man, if 1/4 crazy.)

  4. "Tribal republicans." Utterly bonded to the GOP, accepting whatever definition of "conservatism" is spouted by its leader, even if it diametrically reverses the dogma of ten years ago. Loyalty to the cause is far stronger than love of country or civilization. (In fairness, some lefties are like this, too!) They might concede our entire list of hypocrisies, then blithely reply either "well, the next republicans will be better," or "any democrat would be worse."

  5. Which leaves "decent conservatives." Dole-Goldwater Republicans. Men and women who have let some definitions drift, and who may have some tribal-obstinacy, but who really do have some rock-solid values that you can appeal to. (This category also includes more broadminded libertarians, who have actually read Adam Smith.) Above all, they would actually pick country over party, if shown that is (alas) the choice.

Only this last category of Karl Rove's Big Tent Coalition -- the ostriches -- will be budged by evidence or reason. That's the bad news.

The good news? These folks make up the largest bloc in Rove's tent! Use honor, evidence and patriotism to lure them outside, and the tent will unravel. Crazies will be marginalized. Culture War will wither.

Even better, this category includes many of those skilled professionals -- in the civil service, officer corps, FBI and so on -- who may yet save us all.

Above all, this grassroots movement, to rouse one ostrich at a time, has little or nothing to do with Democratic politicians! Oh, they may be useful, if carefully watched. But over time, we citizens do not need saviors.

If any people are to save America, it should be us. People.

Don't you think you would have called it politically "significant" if Democrats were involved in nine out of ten of the lawmaker sex/perversion/corruption scandals, in the last decade? Of course you would!

You'd call it symptomatic of deeply-rooted Democratic depravity.

So how do you manage to shrug it off as "irrelevant" when -- in fact -- it turns out to be GOP lawmakers getting caught as flagrant perverts or crooks, nine times out of ten?

Is that symptomatic? Deep-rooted? No? Why not?

Among all of the major candidates running for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations, five out of six of the divorces... and all of the really nasty ones... are on the GOP side. Not important, you say? Not morally indicative?

Would you have said the same thing, if the stats were reversed? Really?

Well then, would you call it politically "significant" if all if the worst spies to harm America in the last generation happened to be Democrats? Of course you would! You'd call it symptomatic of Democratic wickedness and a propensity for treason.

So how do you manage to shrug it off as "irrelevant" when -- in fact -- it turns out that all if the worst spies to harm America in the last generation were, in fact, Republicans? (The Walkers, Aldrich Ames, Robert Hanssen, and so on.)

When "abstinence" programs result in much higher teen pregnancy and STD rates than Sex Education, can you be practical and abandon a dogma that failed?

When divorce rates are much higher among fundamentalists than among bluestaters, shall we listen to them preach about marriage?

When they rant against science, doesn't it embarrass you?

When brazenly doctrinaire fundamentalist groups take millions in your taxes, to use seeking converts, does your copy of the Constitution even cringe?

When they declare that millions of their fellow citizens are literally and inherently damned to eternal torment in Hell, because of differences in faith, do you squirm, even a little?

Above all, when those same fanatics publicly yearn for an end to the world -- impatiently salivating for an imminent, blood-drenched, Revelations conflagration -- shall we rush to give such people control over diplomacy, policy, our military, and nuclear weapons?

Really? People who pray daily for events that will terminate America should be given control of our nation's tiller? Is this where "conservatism" has gone?

And is that whirring sound Barry Goldwater spinning in his grave?

[image from TimeOut Chicago]

Oh, but the ironies and hypocrisies go on.


  • responded to a terror attack by grounding all Americans for two days, not allowing them to fly...

  • but meanwhile whisked out of the country, in luxury, every rich or well-connected citizen of a hostile foreign power? The same foreign power from which most of the terrorists had come? Including some relatives and close friends of the plotters? Not even allowing the FBI to ask them any questions?

Would you have let all that tickle your paranoia bone, if a Democratic president did that? Or would you have shouted treason?

Then why aren't you even a little bit curious in this world -- the world where your party has guided America down a path of steep decline? Is there even a chance you'll be honest and honorable enough to realize that -- this time -- it is your side that has gone quite jibbering insane?

And then there is the issue that you all thought so fuss-worthy in the nineties. That of personal character.


  • preened and preached about his own personal courage, then hid out for the first few days after a nation's trauma with a major terrorist attack? (That is, after finishing reading a 2nd grade children's book aloud, before watching cameras.)

  • mocked and sneered at a condemned woman's plea for clemency, on national television? (Whatever your opinions on capital punishment, is a "mature leader" someone who treats such matters with fratboy nastiness and hand-rubbing glee?)

  • spent his first days in office re-assigning scores of FBI agents away from proper duties, sending them, instead, sifting through executive department files, in a vain and (ultimately!) fruitless search for any kind of dirt on the previous administration? Agents who were thus not on duty, looking out for dangers to the people, during months leading up to a terrible terror attack upon the nation?

  • had to be bailed out of failure after failure in college, the military, business school, and every business venture that he ever "ran" (into the ground) always counting on friends of his father to come save the day? Only then, with ultimate power in his hands, he found new friends, with character more like his own? Whereupon he banished pop's former advisors, party elders, and old-style conservatives -- and even the old man himself -- from any further position of advice, party leadership, or "grownup supervision"?

(Wouldn't you have called that an impeachable offense... even outright treason... if the fellow doing it had been Bill Clinton?)

Okay, let's put aside all the lesser character flaws of narrowmindedness, incurious dogmatism, yes-man egotism, and irresponsibility. What about the truly monstrous and unforgivable flaw of sheer ingratitude?

Toward the men who smoothed life's road before him? Or toward the nation that nurtured him? Or toward his own father? Would this story of relentless, feckless "failing upward" -- combined with smug, unprincipled and unappreciative ruthlessness -- have drawn at least a little worry from you by now?

That is, if Bill Clinton were the one described here?

[image from Open Salon]

A Capsule Summary?

As this lengthy polemic grew, online, I was asked to create a condensed version. But how can any capsule envelope so many stark comparisons? So many crimes? Shall I try?

Which president would be the logical choice for a patriotic and logical "decent conservative?"

  • One balanced budgets and the other bankrupted us.
  • One enhanced government efficiency while the other gave $200+ billions in no-bid contracts directly to friends, losing more than ten billions in raw cash.
  • One oversaw a boom in small business and the other the surge of monopolies.
  • One cut down secrecy, while the other sent it rocketing to levels never seen in the Cold War.
  • One helped all society to prosper spectacularly and the other helped only aristocrats.
  • One earned respect from the U.S. Officer Corps and the other one betrayed the military at every turn.
  • Which president would be a "strong" commander in chief, in the eyes of this same "decent conservative"?

    • One maintained military readiness, including thirty fully ready combat brigades, and the other one stripped us bare, exhausting our brave troops and leaving us with only two ready brigades.
    • One handled his war with fierce, surgical precision costing no American lives and transforming a continent, while boosting our popularity and alliances, while the other drove away all of our allies, made us more hated than ever, and devastated our state of readiness, while accomplishing nothing at all.
    • One doubles the Border Patrol and the other shatters it.

    Which president was the "sleaze" subjected to a $2 billion witch hunt?

    One leaves office without a single administration appointee indicted for official duties. (Not even one.) The other loses comrades to jail or ignominy almost every week.

    Oh, I give up. There is no way to summarize. No capsule reprise or shortcut. Because ostriches will squirm and struggle to keep their heads in the sand. Brevity is no virtue when isolated points can be deflected with glib Fox-sophomorisms.

    No, it must be relentless and overwhelming, like an intervention with an alcoholic. The only way to do this is to go through the whole thing, over and over again, until the hypnotic neocon spell shatters and the slumbering ostriches -- our beloved cousins and neighbors and fellow citizens -- finally wake up.


    Let's cut to the chase. Of all the actions that would have condemned Bill Clinton and the Democrats to perdition, if they did it to America -- Culture War would surely have been the worst crime of all. Dividing our nation, pitting us against each other along dismal, geographic and dogmatic lines. Making partisanship the sole test of any issue. Any at all.

    That would have enraged you, if the other side did it. Now, live with having helped and excused the same crime, simply because "culture war" served your side, for a while.

    Only, dig this: it was "blue America" -- people living in the nation's cities -- who responded with courage and fortitude, both on 9/11 and every day since. Who fought back (aboard Boston-originated flight UA93). Who stood atop rubble in New York, shouting at the terrorists "Is that all you got?"

    Urbanites already pay the most taxes, getting least in return. Yet, led into war, they say "Tax us, not our grandchildren, so we can support the troops and get on with winning... or else get us out of that crazy quagmire!"

    Above all, they have said: "Fear? What fear? An 'endless emergency' only gives in to terror and lets crooks bypass the law! Let America get back to normal law. Normal rights and progress. Accountability. And stop using us as an excuse to grab power.

    Yes, urban America is in the terrorism cross-hairs. When more bad things happen, we will take the hits. We'll be the ones to suffer and mourn and die. But we'll face whatever comes, with courage, refusing to let it daunt or change us. Can you say the same?

    WE REFUSE TO BECOME THE USSA! Our country won't be panicked into becoming the United Security States of America.

    Red America can't have it both ways, despising cityfolk while using New Yorkers as martyrs. Yammering fear of terror while loathing their fellow citizens who actually live in the cross hairs. Demanding the benefits of a continental republic while waging Culture War against half its populace.

    It's time for "decent" conservatives to pull their heads out of the sand. Former supporters of the neocon movement must own up and say aloud the words that every scientist -- and every honest citizen -- learns to speak, from time to time, as a simple matter of mature habit:

    "I might be wrong."

    Admit, before it is too late, that you were so very wrong about culture war, about the neoconservative Gang of Thieves, about climate change, and just about everything else, since the 21st Century began.

    Admit it! Be adults. Salvage the best parts of conservatism by rescuing the movement from monsters. Act now, while there is still something left of it to save.

    And join us in rebuilding our country, repairing the ravages of this, our latest Civil War.

    "We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men." -- Edward R. Murrow