January 02, 2004

Ego Link

Tim Blairís feisty new piece in the Australian Daily Telegraph begins with a breakfast cereal theme and moves on to the sane and the insane left.

Oh, and he mentions me, too.

(A side note to Tim: Iím not really a part of the sane left anymore. Iím either an independent, a moderate, a centrist, or an objectively pro-Bush yeehaw flag-waving nationalistic warmonger, depending on where you sit.)

Posted by Michael J. Totten at January 2, 2004 01:27 PM
Comments

A side note to Tim: I’m not really a part of the sane left anymore. I’m either an independent, a moderate, a centrist, or an objectively pro-Bush yeehaw flag-waving nationalistic warmonger, depending on where you sit.

pity. a "sane"--that is to say, morally coherent, intellectually consistent & pragmatic--left is not only a welcome but a much needed contribution to any political spectrum. even though i'm something of a hayek junkie (or perhaps, precisely because i'm a hayek junkie) i recognize the innumerable benefits of having to defend & amend my convictions in accordance to incisive albeit constructive critiques.

you don't need to be a raging socialist to appreciate orwell's clarity & staggering screeds against totalitarianism. you don't have to be a bleeding heart humanist to acknowledge the role of human compassion & dignity in policy decisions. you don't have to be a latter-day red to wrinkle your nose @ hitchens' infuriating self-righteousness but like, totally dig his moral vision.

it's sad &, to a certain extent, scary to witness the nether depths where what is now termed "the left" has sunk to. the malaise of post-modernism & its equally nefarious offspring (post-colonialism, dogmatic anti-globalism, fundamentalist environmentalism) have metastasized.

Posted by: harm d. at January 2, 2004 05:43 PM

"...an objectively pro-Bush yeehaw flag-waving nationalistic warmonger, depending on where you sit."

Those people are sitting well to my right, and I am sitting a little to your right. People who describe you as the above are what psychologists refer to in clinical settings as "looney". That those people exist has been proven throughout the last year repeatedly, but it has also been shown that you can consistently ignore them without damage.

Posted by: Patrick Lasswell at January 2, 2004 07:53 PM

Quite fisty indeed. "If you don't support the war, you're an insane leftist monkey." Come on, Michael--I read this kind of stuff daily in another well-known bastion of rabid right-wing ideology: the Washington Times ed-op page.

Now give me a banana.

Posted by: Arash at January 2, 2004 09:03 PM

Harm D,

I adore Orwell, truly. I still think of myself as a bleeding heart humanist (and probably always will). And you know I love Hitchens if you read my blog regularly. It's the post-colonialism et al that drove me away.

Patrick: Those people are sitting well to my right, and I am sitting a little to your right.

Of course. I just figured I get that out of the way so the loonies don't have to do it for me.

Arash: Quite feisty indeed. "If you don't support the war, you're an insane leftist monkey." Come on, Michael...

Well, he did cite me, and like I said, it was an ego link. Tim is usually fairer than that. The thing is, he has an evil sense of humor and I think that's what he was aiming for. People either chuckle at Tim Blair or they don't. Ken Layne thinks he's pretty funny, and Ken is a liberal who ain't too hot on the Iraq war himself.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 2, 2004 10:15 PM

FUNNY!!! I laughed out loud.

The so-called insane left know that they can't defend their stance on either Iraq or the war on terror. It doesn't matter to them. Their hatred for the US and the international capitalist system takes precedence over all else.

Since both Saddam Hussein and al-qaeda are enemies of the US, they are friends of the insane left. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. How else can you explain the insane left?

Posted by: Reid at January 3, 2004 07:51 AM

Meh. Any person who thought that the invasion of Iraq would be a net positive for US security interests was pretty much psychotic, so I guess we're a country of mental deficients, hey?

Posted by: Kimmitt at January 3, 2004 05:21 PM

I am late is saying this, but to Mr. Totten, and to everyone else reading this:

Happy New Year to you and yours!

Posted by: Aakash at January 3, 2004 06:25 PM

No, Kimmett, some of us thought, and think, that Iraq, and the long-term policy shift it represents, was/is a huge gamble, with "net" results not even to be guessed for decades, and in a changing environment to which we contribute.

Some of us thought that almost anything would be better than the path we were on, and on that scale continue to expect net benefits.

I'm sorry that sounds psychotic to you; I don't feel that those who thought the risk too great are crazy, but that they chose or weighted their factors differently. On the other hand, if you want to talk about ooiil, or Imperialism, or crony enrichment, or fascism....

Posted by: Alene Berk at January 3, 2004 07:11 PM

Oh, it's far too much to expect an "insane" person such as myself to be able to understand your highfalutin' arguments.

Posted by: Kimmitt at January 3, 2004 07:56 PM

Well then, Kimmitt, step away from the computer and go play with some shiny objects. Perhaps the tinfoil hat perched on top of your head will keep you amused for a while.

I guess sarcasm begets sarcasm...

Posted by: Greg at January 3, 2004 09:43 PM

"warns his party" ... I wasn't aware that Mike is a Democrat. :-)

Posted by: Graham at January 3, 2004 09:46 PM

The so-called insane left know that they can't defend their stance on either Iraq or the war on terror. It doesn't matter to them. Their hatred for the US and the international capitalist system takes precedence over all else.

Since both Saddam Hussein and al-qaeda are enemies of the US, they are friends of the insane left. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. How else can you explain the insane left?

I think this is a popular view of the anti-war leftists mentality, but in common practice I don't think it's the majority. I would assume the majority of American anti-war leftists hate Saddam and Al-Quaeda but love America just fine. It just seems to me - especially from reading various farther-left blogs - that a big reason for opposing the war was that it was "trendy". The actual politics of it aren't important, but being noticed (and linked to) is.

I'd even be willing to bet the majority of protesters don't understand why they oppose(d) action in Iraq - it's just what all their cool friends were doing.

That's why it defies such description, especially coming from liberals who are supposed to take up for the little guy, the downtrodded (i.e. the Iraqi people).

Still another reason Liberals opposed the war is one big word: Payback. Payback for enduring 8+ years of Clinton-bashing and Payback for stealing the 2000 election. A lot of anger has been seething since 1992, and that's where a lot of the "oiiiiiil" mentality comes from.

Unfortunately, I agree with them in principle: I thought what the Republicans did to discredit Clinton while in office was much more heinous and disrespectful than anything he did himself, and I've never been quite convinced everything was done to verify the results of the election in Florida - however, many who feel the same way can't let go of the hatred, and the hurt, and the pride to see what their vendetta is doing to themselves and the integrity of the philosophy they're supposed to be representing.

It's up to people like you, Michael, to stay true to your principles when those who claim to represent you ignore them.

Posted by: Barry at January 3, 2004 10:34 PM

Most folks I knew opposed the war for two reasons: they viewed it as a distraction from US security concerns from Islamic terrorism and because Bush was obviously misleading us as to its reasons and could not be trusted not to foul up its aftermath.*

They were right on both of these counts; the question continues to be how much those two factors matter to people who defend the war's righteousness.

*there was also concern as to the enormity of likely collateral damage which was, thankfully, unfounded.

Posted by: Kimmitt at January 3, 2004 10:59 PM

"I'd even be willing to bet the majority of protesters don't understand why they oppose(d) action in Iraq"

Well Barry, then you should be prepared to lose that bet. How much did you intend to wager?

Now it may be true that most people didn't oppose the war for any one reason, but in my personal case ... 1) Lying about the reason for a war (Uranium from Niger to cite one example), 2) It wasn't justified and doesn't stand up to international law (Richard Perle of the Defense policy review board says as much) Attacking Iraq had as much to do with Sept 11th as Christopher Hitchens has with hetero sex.

3) The aftermath has cost the lives of nearly 600 coalition forces so far and estimates are 10,000 Iraqi's (not that anyone didn't see that coming)
4) The "coalition of the willing" amounted to USA, UK, Australia and a bunch of countries who were willing to be paid off. The alienation of the UN was simply diplomatic idiocy. Even Bush I disagreed with this in his usual limp-wristed fashion in a speech at Tufts University prior to the shooting.

These are my top 4 reasons without really even breaking a sweat. Pacificst might argue that war is bad no matter what. I don't fall in that camp but that is a fifth reason.

To Kimmit: "there was also concern as to the enormity of likely collateral damage which was, thankfully, unfounded". I guess, more than 10,000 dead is considered "enormous"?

http://www.iraqbodycount.net/

Posted by: Graham at January 3, 2004 11:25 PM

"I've never been quite convinced everything was done to verify the results of the election in Florida." -- Barry

Right, the only thing not done was to find a recount which produced Gore as the winner, which would have been the correct recount. [Is that a principle?]

Posted by: Joe Peden at January 4, 2004 06:43 AM

Tell me Grahm, why does that website (iraqbodycount) include civilians killed by the muhjadeen in their numbers? Why do they include civilians killed by terrorists in their numbers? Why do they include just about any death, whether by accident or not, in their numbers? Could it be that they want to inflate their numbers? No, of course not! A partisan organization would never do that, right?

And as for the rest of your points, I'm too darn tired to go over them YET AGAIN, and debunk them YET AGAIN, but I'm amazed that someone who seems to be intelligent would continue to fall for unmitigated BS. I will say this to you: If you claim that the Brits lied when they told us they had intel on Saddam trying to purchace uranium, that's up to you. But the Brits are standing by their intel.

Posted by: Raging Dave at January 4, 2004 08:30 AM

Graham -- Yes. Most of my friends expected 100-200,000 Iraqi dead due to house-to-house fighting and the destruction of the sewage systems.

Posted by: Kimmitt at January 4, 2004 10:38 AM

RaginDave,
Tiredness is not an excuse for intellectual laziness. You can point links to places where you refuted my points. That's the beauty of the web. I'd be happy to read.

About the iraqbodycount...It is exactly that. An accounting of the number of dead caused by all sides. It is not called iraqbodycountcausedbythecoalitionofthewilling.net. The point made was that there is still a true cost of the war that seems to be whitewashed while we are all safe here in our comfortable homes. Partisan or not, I don't think you can argue with their methodology given the purpose.

Finally, perhaps the Brits stand by their intelligence but the US certainly does not. George Tenet: "The president had every reason to believe that the text presented to him was sound. These 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the president"

However, this same claim was earlier nixed by the CIA as being unsubstantiated in late 2002. So someone in the CIA/Whitehouse knew enough that the claim was false yet it still was included in the SotU.

All this detracts from the original point which is that I believe most people who opposed the war knew/know exactly why they did it. The assertion to the contrary(not by Dave) is simply unfounded on fact and just an emotional statement based on anecdotal experience I am sure.

Posted by: Graham at January 4, 2004 10:56 AM

"an objectively pro-Bush yeehaw flag-waving nationalistic warmonger". Welcome to the club, Michael. We're glad to have your intelligence and nerve on the correct (if not right) side. Seriously. Yours, a post-9/11 extremely former Democrat. Stephen

Posted by: Stephen at January 4, 2004 11:36 AM

Graham,

I congratulate you. I've been trying to get an anti-war person to lay out why he opposed the Iraq war for months on this site and others.

1. The Bush administration lied about the reasons behind the invasion? As I recall, Bush and his staff said it was to prevent a regime which had used WMD on its own people from further developing WMDs and handing them over to Islamic terrorists who have pledged to kill Americans.

How exactly has that been disproven? I assume, like most intelligent observers, that Saddam used the copious lead time he had while the US was trying to get the UN to live up to its numerous resolutions to destroy, bury or export chemical and biological weapons to Syria. I doubt Saddam ever had a working nuclear weapons program. Rather, he had one in abeyance and expected to restart it once the fraying sanctions approach fell apart.

As for the "uranium from Africa" statement which anti-war types cling to like a lifeline, Bush said, "British intelligence has reported that Saddam has sought uranium from Africa." The British stand by that statement, which is good enough for me. I assume the CIA had weaker sources than the British.

2. As for international law, as much as one-worlders assume we should all live under a UN government, it's not going to happen. The UN is a corrupt, venal, ineffectual organization which will probably be no more than a husk in 20 years. I look to Americans to decide on American foreign policy, not the representatives of Third World dictators and their First World enablers. Where did this idea that we have to run our foreign policy through the UN Security Council come from? It's an argument advanced by leftists over the past 15 years which they try to pass off as something having a long pedigree. National sovereignity still reigns here in the US. And, by the way, even the European Union looks as though it'll be stillborn.

3. US and Iraqi casualties have been very low, compared to what has been accomplished: the overthrow of an oil-rich regime with (at least on paper) hundreds of thousands of soldiers at its command. The Iraq War had to be the first time in history that soldiers took enormous pains not only to spare civilian lives, but even the lives of enemy soldiers.

In addition, Iraqi casualty estimates were largely based on how many of the people who died at hospitals were wearing civilian clothes. But guess what? The Fedayeen who were our main foes during the March-April war fought us in civilian clothes. So the fact that young Iraqi men wearing civies expired at hospitals of gunshot and explosive woumnds probably means they were mortally wounded fighting Coalition troops.

4. Countries with troops/personnel on the ground in Iraq:

US
UK
Australia
Poland
Ukraine
Bulgaria
South Korea
Japan
Romania
Italy
Spain
Thailand

And those are just the ones I've heard of, reading newspapers. In all, we've got some 60 countries involved with troops or other support in rebuilding Iraq. When will this stupid "unilateral action" meme, beloved by leftists, die? "Unilateral" is just a euphimism for "the French, Germans and Russians are against us." I'd argue that more countries in Europe support Coalition actions in Europe than oppose it. So, Graham, that's a dumb argument too.

All in all, flimsy points, Graham. But thanks for making them. It confirms my belief that the real anger at the US is because we showed up how ineffectual is the European policy of diplomacy not backed up by force and how doomed is the faith of many in one-world government.

Posted by: Matt Ward at January 4, 2004 12:37 PM

How exactly has that been disproven?

It cannot be disproven to you; you've made clear that no amount of evidence to the contrary will convince you. The weapons are always going to be buried/shipped to Syria/transubstantiated as far as you're concerned.

Bush said, "British intelligence has reported that Saddam has sought uranium from Africa."

Right, and we checked it out and found it to be unsupportable. So what Bush was doing was making a technically true statement for the purpose of misleading. I don't care if the Brits stand behind their statements; they're in on this too.

Where did this idea that we have to run our foreign policy through the UN Security Council come from?

When we'll be needing the help of the member countries afterwards, of course.

And those are just the ones I've heard of, reading newspapers. In all, we've got some 60 countries involved with troops or other support in rebuilding Iraq.

None of which are making contributions even a hundredth of what we are making. This is our show. We're begging some other folks, including such luminaries as Uzbekistan, to come in to provide a fig leaf of multilateralism. If we can't get our NATO partners on board, don't you think that might be a clue as to the foolishness of the enterprise?

Finally, you declined to address the point which was always the most relevant -- that BushCo. would foul up the occupation.

Posted by: Kimmitt at January 4, 2004 01:13 PM

shorter Tim Blair: if you agree with me, congratulations! You're sane. If you disagree with me, you're insane! Boo, hiss.

Posted by: Katherine at January 4, 2004 01:34 PM

Kimmitt,

What evidence to the contrary is there?

What exactly are the Brits "in on" as well?

Has you ever thought a legitimate approach to American foreign policy is "Hey fellow democracies, here's what we're going to do; do you want to help us?" rather than "Please oh please, Gabon (or France), can we have your permission?"

Don't you think that countries, like France and Germany, that feel they don't have to have large armies but can protect their worldwide interests using just diplomacy (without the threat of force) and economic incentives, are being pretty foolish?

Don't you think the aforementioned countries realize they rely on the protection of American force to enjoy their cocoon of wishful thinking?

Do you really think those countries I listed are "fig leaf" countries? Most of them have much more vibrant economies than France and Germany.

Will you please tell me how exactly BushCo. have fouled up the occupation?

Did you know one of the American generals over in Iraq is named Kimmitt?

Posted by: Matt Ward at January 4, 2004 01:43 PM

Matt Ward,

>>Will you please tell me how exactly BushCo. have fouled up the occupation?

I'll answer that... They haven’t!!! In historical terms this is the least screwed up war in US history. I know it is not over but if we measure the results against the expectations it is an unequivocal homerun. If before the war we had used the current casualty totals as abhorrent as a casualty is, as the basis or even a prediction. Less than 1000 American deaths less than 15,000 Iraqi’s dead on all sides, also Saadam captured alive in a rat hole. Those would be ridiculed, as a former leftist I will tell you that the left has a very poor record of predictions, and yet keep making the same predictions over and over again. I made that mistake with Reagan, I will not make it again. I’ll leave that for those who choose perpetual foolishness. As Michael said in his Builders and Defenders, conservatives understand and study history better than liberals, hell liberals can’t even learn from history when it happens to them! (1972 McGovern), (1984 Mondale) History will strike again, conservatives needed only one 1964 (Goldwater) to understand, good luck.

Posted by: Samuel at January 4, 2004 02:45 PM

Did you know one of the American generals over in Iraq is named Kimmitt?

Yeah, I know -- I used to pretty much dominate a Google search for my name, but sadly that time has passed.

Do you really think those countries I listed are "fig leaf" countries? Most of them have much more vibrant economies than France and Germany.

They're fig leaves because they each contribute an infinitesimal amount. I do find the idea that Romania's economy is more vibrant than two members of the G-7's to be rather amusing, though. I hadn't realized the Old Europe/New Europe foolishness had gone quite so far.

What exactly are the Brits "in on" as well?

Er, the British have also staked a certain amount of credibility on the claim that Saddam sought to purchase uranium in Africa, but have brought nothing forward to support it. Since we have a series of crude forgeries available, the best explanation that the Brits used them just like the Americans did and are simply better at covering up the trail.

Will you please tell me how exactly BushCo. have fouled up the occupation?

Hm. I think we need to find out first how low your bar is set. What would the criteria be for a successful occupation?

Posted by: Kimmitt at January 4, 2004 03:56 PM

Kimmit,

"They're fig leaves because they each contribute an infinitesimal amount."

How telling for you to describe the sacrifices of the non-US Coalition soldiers who died as infinitesimal. Your morality is showing, and it is disgustingly arrogant and disturbingly racist. Why exactly do their lives count for so little? Why are their best efforts worthy of only your scorn?

"What would the criteria be for a successful occupation?"

Countering dissent without plastic shredders is a start, I suppose. Perhaps you think the torture and murder of Iraqi's is an infinitesimal matter, and stopping it not a success, though.

Posted by: Patrick Lasswell at January 4, 2004 04:24 PM

The US and UK have committed about 155,000 soldiers to Iraq. Everyone else combined, from what I can find, comes out to less than 10,000. The individual sacrifice of any soldier who gives his or her life is, of course, unmeasurable. But this is a US/UK show with only the most symbolic of contributions from other countries.

Posted by: Kimmitt at January 4, 2004 06:43 PM

Kimmitt,

I remember seeing on a book some guy named Matt Ward who had translated a book from French and thinking "hey, that's my name!" Then I googled my name and found there was a computer science prof in NY State, a guitarist in Germany (of all places!), some dude in England, etc.

OK, my criteria for a successful occupation:

1. Find and/or prevent Iraqi WMD from falling into the hands of Islamic terrorists and put an end to any active or hibernating Iraqi WMD programs. It's still up in the air whether we'll be able to find any WMD, but we've got a better chance of stopping proliferation now than if we'd left Saddam alone. Grade C.

2. Remove Saddam from power. Prevent his return to power. Prevent any anti-American, terrorist-friendly Baathists from returning to power. Saddam is probably going to be dangling from the end of a rope by the end of the year and the Baathist insurgency has shown little sign over the past six months of growing beyond some 5,000 loyalists and street criminals. Every day that passes, the Iraqi people (even the Sunnis) seem to regard these people as pathetic (if dangerous) dead-enders. Grade B.

3. Move Iraq on the road to democracy, thus setting an example that destabilizes other Arab dictators and fundamentalists. I'm skeptical that Iraq will turn into a democracy anytime soon. But if we can leave behind a benign strongman who values Iraqi prosperity more than his own meglomania, then maybe the country can achieve enough stability to grow a larger middle class who can take over power and start developing a rule of law. Once again, that's much more likely without Saddam than with Saddam. Grade B.

I won't get into the racist blah blah overtones of denigrating Eastern European countries. That sounds like political correctness to me. But it's a little silly, Kimmitt, to expect other countries' contributions not to be dwarved by US numbers. The US is the dominant power in the work: militarily, economically, culturally. We are a democratic uber-power, and we will take the lead in almost everything, especially considering the cultural malaise that has settled over France and Germany and Russia's deep inferiority complexes.

But just because Romania is only sending a few chemical experts, don't think they aren't doing the best they can. The E. Europeans understand totalitarians, having lived as part of the Soviet Empire for 40 years. You underestimate their genuine willingness to fight Islamic fundamentalism by denigrating the motives behind their contributions. They understand that freedom isn't free much more than the French.

Posted by: Matt Ward at January 4, 2004 06:46 PM

Meant to give my third point a C, rather than a B.

Gentleman C's. Stands up pretty well, considering we're the only ones taking the test.

Posted by: Matt Ward at January 4, 2004 07:34 PM

I'm not thrilled about going to war to take from Saddam chemical weapons he didn't have, end his impotent programs, and remove him from power -- just to replace him with a less murderous strongman. I would think that a free, prosperous, and democratic Afghanistan would be a far more impressive case for Middle Eastern representative government than a collapsing Afghanistan and a less awful Iraq.

I mean, is that what we're going to tell our men and women over there? "You're fighting and dying to bring a significantly less awful strongman into power"?

And that's even assuming we get what we want and don't see Kurdistan rebelling shortly after we withdraw. We may yet see Kurdistan and Kashmir mentioned in the same breath -- intractable conflicts made inevitable due to the foolishness of Western conquerors.

Or, God help us, Iraq could endure a fundamentalist rebellion and become a Wahabbist sanctuary.

Horrible possibilities. The US deserves better than to have to roll these kinds of dice -- and much better than to have bought them for 400+ lives and $150 billion.

Posted by: Kimmitt at January 4, 2004 07:40 PM

Wow! I post a simple comment, go away and try to get some work done and come back and it turns into "gang up on Kimmit" time.

Matt Ward wrote:
"As I recall, Bush and his staff said it was to prevent a regime which had used WMD" That may be so, but the same person also said "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa". Now it turns out the the documents that were used as evidence were pretty bad forgeries and easily shown to be fake. Anyone remember Joseph Wilson's July 6th article in the NY Times? So to repeat this lie without doing proper fact checking is willful ignorance which is bad. However, to repeat this lie when the truth was already known is beyond willful ignorance it is deceitful. A lie. A sham. Whatever you want to call it. It is also what falls into the category of "manufacturing consent". Tell people that Saddam is bad and wants to build a bomb so he can blow us all up. Hmmm, he couldn't do it for the last 12 years, I don't think he was going to succeed. If he did have anything the Israelis would have known it before us anyway. Sort of like having a canary in a coalmine. :-)

I have heard people on the right say; "OK. Yeah I acknowledge that it may not have been true about the Uranium thing, but look at how good it was to topple Saddam" Well, that is beside the point. In a democracy, the public has a right to hear the truth. We don't have a right to hear everything since some things need to be secret. But it is our right that what we hear should be true. Republicans, Democrats, Independents or whomever should demand and accept no less.

In a democracy, if you lie to the constituency it is possible to get us to vote for/support just about anything. In the extreme, this is what Hitler did.

Another argument about the same 16 words from the right is that what Bush said was technically accurate even though the spirit of the statement was false. Sort of reminds me of "I did not have sexual relations with that woman. Monica Lewinsky." The difference is, when Clinton lied no one came home in a bodybag. This is a lame argument and those who make it know it is and why it is lame.

About the international law argument... So if the UN is so ineffectual and impotent, why does the US fund it and why does the US participate? If the US is going to be a member of the UN then it should abide by its rules. If it is not going to abide by the rules/laws then it should bow out. Right? Now ponder that thought for a moment.

I think the point that Kimmit may have been making about the eastern european countries rather inconsequential help (yes, I know they are doing the best they can) is not really the point. The point is that the 2 largest economies in Europe and Russia are not contributing because of poor diplomacy. Yeah, I fully expect the "We don't need stinkin' France/Germany's help!" crowd to pile on. As Dubya says, "Bring 'em on".

One of the intriguing stories that really did not get reported widely was that Iraq had been using the Euro for its oil payments as opposed the the worldwide standard US dollar. Iran was heavily leaning in that direction. I think Iraq made this change shortly before Bush was elected ...er, appointed. Who knows if that had anything to do with it but it certainly isn't a "rally round the flag" kind of issue so it wasn't very useful as propaganda.

Posted by: Graham at January 4, 2004 09:27 PM

As Lileks wrote in his latest 'screedy' bleat, 'No. Middle. Ground.'

Just to backtrack a little to Graham's first comments - in particular those about Hitch and Bush - he does sound suspiciously like he believes those who disagree with him over the reasons for going to war are homosexuals. Even worse, it seems that actually bothers him!
I can't take a person like that seriously.

As for Tim Blair, he is very funny, intelligent, and articulate. Unfortunately, he's also an avid fan of our Prime Minister (Howard), a man who cites the atrocities committed by Saddam against the Iraqi people as one of the reasons for going to war (and he had my full support there), then locks up those same brutalised and desperate people (and their children) indefinitely in detention centres if they presume to seek asylum in Australia.
I agree with Tim about the 'insane left'. I just wish he would use some of that wit and intellect to support the basic human rights of those Iraqis who escaped that rotten regime, and not just those who couldn't.

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