May 13, 2004

Seriously Misplaced Outrage

I still havenít found anyone who explicitly supports the torture of Iraqis in Abu Ghraib prison. But some people do like to push it.

Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, for instance. This guy isnít exactly the conscience of America.

"I'm probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment," Sen. James Inhofe said during a hearing on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.
It takes a special kind of person, really it does, to think anger at torture is worse than torture.
"I am also outraged that we have so many humanitarian do-gooders right now crawling all over these prisons looking for human rights violations while our troops, our heroes, are fighting and dying."
Apparently it hasnít occurred to some people (and Iím not just talking about loony right-wing senators) that itís possible to support our soldiers and humanitarian ďdo-goodersĒ at the same time. To me itís perfectly consistent and perfectly normal. Last time I checked ďhumanitarianĒ wasnít a dirty word, but human rights violations were anti-American.

(Hat tip: Grant McEntire via email.)

Posted by Michael J. Totten at May 13, 2004 12:52 AM
Comments

Last time I checked “humanitarian” wasn’t a dirty word,
**************************************************
It's not a dirty word, but some people have almost made it seem like one.

Not the ones who are genuinely concerned with humanitarian efforts. but the ones who do not really care about that, just delight in amything that damages America.

You know them. The "Iraq was better off under Saddam" cadre.

I find the outrage of those who cut off a man's head while he is still alive a little unconvincing.

I find the outrage of their allies less convincing.

Michael you have made it clear that you do not think comparing the recent torture with Saddam is a valid defence.

But I DO think that the views of some Iraqis are valid. They have a right to a say?

http://healingiraq.blogspot.com/archives/2004_05_01_healingiraq_archive.html#108419872368065802

Iraqi doctors ask: "What about us?"
A number of renown Iraqi specialist doctors have expressed their outrage over the Iraqi, Arab, and international public reaction to the images of abused prisoners at Abu Ghraib. This following an alarming increase in the number of assassinations and abductions of Iraqi intellectuals and top medical professionals recently in Baghdad.

"They scream and whine about abuse of prisoners, most of who are criminals, but I don't recall anyone mentioning what we have gone through let alone condemning it, which was much worse. Now they are openly calling the Americans to release thousands of those criminals from Abu Ghraib.", a relative of ours told us a couple of days ago. He was kidnapped months ago and held for 2 weeks, after which his family paid a large ransom. Now he is considering leaving Iraq after he had recieved threats. He has already been offered a job as a professor in a Medical college in Europe.
**************************************************
The rest is worth reading.

Posted by: Dan Kauffman at May 13, 2004 01:57 AM

This humanitarian do-gooder thanks you, Michael. :)

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 02:30 AM

Whoh...Rummy's in Baghdad!!!

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 02:35 AM

Grant,

Welcome back! I hope things are working out.

Posted by: HA at May 13, 2004 03:57 AM

MJT,

Inhofe is right to be outraged at the outrage. The orgy of self-flagellation over Abu Ghraib is obscene. What happened there is disgraceful, but we need to keep it in the right perspective. I'm still trying to figure out what the right perspective is, but the beheading of Nick Berg sheds some light.

Ultimately, the decision to go to war is the decision to support evil. In this war we are in, the good side (that's us for those who are uncertain) is choosing to temporarily commit evil in order to defeat the bad side (that's them for those who are uncertain) and prevent a greater, permanent evil. Is what happened at Abu Ghraib a greater or lesser evil than the collatoral damage that we accept as a part of war? I really don't know with certainty.

But make no mistake, when people like you and I decided to support this war, we were accepting the fact that our side would commit acts that are evil in order to avert a greater evil. The challenge our side faces is to insure that we don't become what we are fighting against,so that when the conflcit is over we can reclaim what we once were.

In the final analysis for me, the events at Abu Ghraib must be judged by whether or not on balance they helped or harmed the war effort. If they helped the war effort, then they are acts of evil that diminished a greater evil. If they harmed the war effort, then they served a greater evil.

I believe that what happened at Abu Ghraib harmed the war effort. For that reason, and that reason alone, I believe that those who perpetrated the events at Abu Ghraib must be punished.

Posted by: HA at May 13, 2004 04:20 AM

Since 'human rights violations' are anti-American why do we continue to support those very organizations which perpetuate anti-humanitarian platforms such as the United Nations, UNICEF, International Red Cross, and the multitude 'Green' groups waging world-wide eco-imperialism.

Posted by: syn at May 13, 2004 04:38 AM

"I believe that what happened at Abu Ghraib harmed the war effort. For that reason, and that reason alone, I believe that those who perpetrated the events at Abu Ghraib must be punished"...

HA, I can't believe you actually said that. Maybe you're just really pissed off about Berg and aren't thinking rationally. I was really pissed off for a while as well, and probably would have said some pretty dumb stuff in those moments too. I hope to God you didn't actually mean it. Those who perpetrated the events at Abu Ghraib ought to be punished for their crimes against humanity, for their crimes against fellow human beings. PERIOD.

As for the rest of your argument, I'm thinking you are probably just really upset because it's far weaker than what I've come to expect of you. There's the fact that war is evil and then there's the fact that senseless physical humiliation and sexual abuse are less than human. The two have got ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH ONE ANOTHER.

Furthermore, your strict utilitarian system of "greater" and "lesser" evils begins with the premise that we ought to be morally comparing Saddam Hussein and the United States. I accept no such premise and find the notion rather repulsive. Saddam's regime was damn near pure evil. To say that it's okay for us to be half as bad as him because we're not as bad as him is an insult to the greatness of everything this country was founded upon. There's a reason everyone is calling it "un-American", what they did.

War is always evil and sadistic torture is always evil, but the two are hardly the same. Apply the utilitarian standard of "greater than" and "lesser than" to War all you want because there is such a thing as a Just War. That's all fine and well. But don't apply it to sadistic torture for the sake of sadistic torture and then say it's no big deal because Saddam was way more sadistic than we've ever been.

That kind of thinking is truly un-American and makes us a lesser Saddam. Saddam's brutality and American liberal democracy ought to be like oil and water. The moral relativism of your argument turns my stomach.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 05:12 AM

And I never decided to support this War on the assumption that we'd EVER be doing things like the things we did at Abu Ghraib.

I accepted this War on the assumption that hundreds or even thousands of innocent civilian lives would be lost. I also accepted this War on the assumption that hundreds or even thousands of American troops would die for the cause.

There is no justifiable cause to make right what happened at Abu Ghraib, however. Not now. Not ever. If my outrage upsets you, well then I'm sorry. I'm only outraged because I know my country is better than this.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 05:19 AM

My feeling is that the outrage is being used in a politically destructive manner. And the most dangerous part is that they do have a point. The abuses are totally unacceptable, and indicative of a systemic problem in Iraq (especially if other prisons are involved). The abuses are of such a nature that they deeply undermine our mission, our national honor, and our morality.

OK, so where do we go from here? The problem is that while their critique is correct, their response to the problem of terrorism and instability in the middle east is still non-existent (or, in some cases, it's just completely inadequate).

This is much like the Cold War all over again. There, the Left excoriated the Right for allying with the Contras in south america, with the Phillipines under Marcos, with China over their human rights record, etc. They criticized the Right during detente because the USSR had an awful human rights record. But when the US confronted the Soviets, 99 Luftballoons was the answer: peace at any price.

The problem is that ANY policy can be criticized. And even honest pursuit of the right strategy produces unpleasant consequences, forseen and unforseen. No amount of "nuance" can navigate those waters unscathed.

The Left's foreign policy strategy since Vietnam has been to be the opposition party whenever big decisions are being made. Reading Kerry's plan, I see nothing new except "I'll bring in the UN to run this" and "I'll do the same thing, only better because I'm smarter". Absent a policy to criticize, you get a policy by momentum-- and to be honest, we saw that very thing from Carter and Clinton. In this time of intense conflict, the results would look more like those under the former than the latter.

Even as we're outraged by what's happening, we have to remember that this was our best option: the problems would be different-- but worse-- if we were still sitting in Saudi Arabia trying to contain Iraq. Can we do better? Sure, we need to. We need to crack down on the war criminals.

We also need to continue to take the war against islamofascism seriously. Scoring political own-goals just to engineer an election-winning foreign policy disaster is wrong-- and sadly, some people are straying dangerously close to doing just that. As demoralizing as those pictures are, we're still on the right track overall and can't let the Ralls's and Kos's of the world keep us from seeing that.

whew... that was longer than I expected...

Posted by: Rob at May 13, 2004 05:31 AM

Uuuuuugh...I'm still reeling over what you said.

How in the hell can you suggest that what happened at Abu Ghraib could of possibly served a greater good, or, excuse me, "diminished a greater evil": Sodomizing and raping and shocking inmates just for fun.

I'm tempted to ask for an apology, here. I'm that upset. Not that you really owe it to ME as much as I think you owe it to humanity in general for what you said. And as much as I think you owe it to your country, perhaps, your country who ought never be associated with the likes of Saddam Hussein (even if only in a fraction of the way).

Sorry that I'm totally crapping on your warm greetings in saying all this, but you deserve it. I'm not really back, by the way. I just can't sleep right now. I'll still be gone for quite some time after today. Hopefully when I return for real you won't give me such ample reason for ripping into you.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 05:34 AM

Your anger is TOTALLY mis-directed.The comment by Sen Inhofe is perfectly reasonable.
I have made this point previously and I am about to make it again.
WE ARE AT WAR WITH SCUM!!!
One reason why the abuse in Iraq was so objectionable is that it was so clearly DENSE and destructive to our goals and image.
HOWEVER,theoretically speaking,should an Al-Queda operative be captured in NYC and should that operative know where a nuclear device was planted,I DON'T HAVE THE SLIGHTEST PROBLEM IN TRYING TO GET THAT INFORMATION BY WHATEVER MEANS REQUIRED.That is NOT what was done in Iraq.
This may be a monstrous viewpoint,but I don't believe that it is, by definition un-defendable.
As to the comments by the Senator,I am firmly convinced that SOME of the LLL comments,including those by Ted Kennedy,are nearly as revolting as the original crime (considering the context of our times).Some of your old colleagues on the liberal-left are contemptable people (if you believe that we are legitimately at war).If you don't believe that we are legitimately at war,then the current administration is basically CRIMINAL.
There is no room in the middle on these fundamental issues----NO ROOM AT ALL.
If you want to argue that this is not a critical conflict and therefore we must err on the side of RIGHT,fine---- but if you want to argue that we must fight against the barbarians with a copy of Emily Post in one hand while they gleefully saw off assorted heads,you will have a hard time convincing me.
VICTORY IS EVERYTHING whether we want to admit it or not,and I am perfectly certain that WW2 was NOT won by good thoughts and pleasant actions.

Posted by: doug at May 13, 2004 05:39 AM

Yeah, I kinda have to agree with you Rob. There are those who are strongly criticizing what happened because it deserves criticism and then there are those who are criticizing what happened as a criticism of the War in general.

I'm just as upset as anybody about all of this, as you can probably already tell. I do, however, think that it's got nothing to do with whether or not the War was a good idea. I've supported the War from day one and I still support it today. How some people could possibly think this makes the decision to go to War any less just is beyond me. The Left is in a pretty sad state, indeed.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 05:41 AM

In a post that veers perilously close to a kind of sanity (after all, reasoning from false premises is at least a form of reasoning, an improvement), HA writes:

"Inhofe is right to be outraged at the outrage. The orgy of self-flagellation over Abu Ghraib is obscene. What happened there is disgraceful, but we need to keep it in the right perspective. I'm still trying to figure out what the right perspective is, but the beheading of Nick Berg sheds some light."

Lest the debate descend into some infinite regress, into a debate about outrage over outrage over outrage over outrage over Abu Ghraib ....

Let's change the subject. Yes, let's. Let's talk about what Nick Berg's death might mean in global terms.

I think the video of Nick Berg's decapitation is a great subject, if you really want to talk about where things go from here.

Granted, it's not a comfortable subject. I've looked at some stills, but I can't quite bring myself to watch the actual snuff film. I don't think this is what Boingboing meant when he said that digital photography and the Web are the biggest thing since Gutenberg. Clearly, this technology cuts both ways. Words are not images. Reading is thinking. Having thought, one can rethink - or forget. But seeing is believing. And some images are unforgettable.

All disgust and outrage aside, let's agree on something: this was great theater. Great art in the sense that the composer Stockhausen meant, when he said (mind you, in a context in which he was utterly deploring the attacks themselves) that 9/11 was a kind of work of art. Picture the plane slicing like a knife through hot butter into one of the towers of the WTC. We've all seen that. Many times. Worthy of Salvador Dali, don't you think?

With this video, as with 9/11, you have to admire the timing. The world was erupting into outrage and controversy over the Abu Ghraib images. Mere words could never have done this. Now the world is shocked into stillness, then provoked toward another debate, by the video of Berg's slaughter.

And consider the (claimed) source: a group within Iraq that was the one very tenuous link between al Qaeda and Saddam - and that, only by some weird enemy-of-enemy=friend logic that nobody in the Arab world would buy for a second. Surely, this purported link will be seized upon for I-told-you-sos.

But let's not forget for a minute what's really going on here. What does al Qaeda want? They want Saudi Arabia - 30% of the world's proven reserves, and the top two holiest cities in Islam.

One way for al Qaed to get Saudi Arabia is to make Saudi Arabia too hot to handle, ASAP. They are certainly whittling away at that. You can count on it.

The other, however, is to loosen America's hold on Saudi Arabia. In that, they've been pretty successful in direct results: the U.S. bases from which the Iraq war was directed have been decommissioned, diplomatic staff are largely gone, and now companies are pulling their employees out. The stick part of their strategy is slowly working.

But there's the carrot, too: the world's second largest oil reserves. Those are in Iraq. Any major media event that might cause Americans to get cold feet about staying in Iraq actually endangers al Qaeda's agenda - it might prompt the U.S. to start investing more heavily in stabilizing Saudi Arabia. Abu Ghraib bids fair to be just such an event. Support for the war has finally fallen to below a majority in the U.S., and that was right after the Taguba report surfaced and the images got out. Something had to be done, and quickly.

It's one thing to be staging small-scale terror attacks in Iraq that mostly just kill Iraqis. Those actually work for al Qaeda. They don't contribute much to the U.S. casualty count, and the Bush administration can say, "See? Being in Iraq really is part of the War on Terror." (Even as it avoids counting those attacks in the annual Global Patterns of Terrorism report, so that it can claim on the basis of cooked statistics that we're "winning".)

But what about an event that gives the majority of Americans a sick feeling in the pits of their stomachs about being in Iraq at all? Like Abu Ghraib's torture chambers? Very bad. Al Qaeda needs to make sure that America gets Iraq oil access in the end - it's part of loosening America's hold on Saudia Arabia, reducing America's commitment to stability in Saudi Arabia (a stability that is inexorably slipping away in any case, a slippage that can only be slowed, not halted.)

What better time to put out a video of a totally outrageous, cold-blooded, viscerally wrenching, mind-bending video from a purported al Qaeda insurgent group that once made an alliance of convenience with Saddam? It's perfect. Look at how this works.

(1) It bids fair to make Iraq all about the War on Terror again, always a pretty dubious proposition on the face of it.

(2) It breathes new life into the supposed Saddam-al Qaeda association. Most Americans fell for that anyway, but Abu Ghraib was too big of a distraction from that. Well, this new video sure puts the focus back where both al Qaeda and Bush would like it to be.

And so it fights fire with fire - outrage with even greater outrage. After all, even the innocent Iraqis in American torture chambers were still just Iraqis. This is a dead American.

Now, I've phrased much of the above as if I considered my theory a certainty. I don't. I'm just trying to fit my imperfect knowledge to what seems like time-tested human motivations. I could be wrong in my theory, and even if I'm right, this Nick Berg decapitation video could be just a blip. Somehow, I don't think so.

Terror isn't just asymmetric warfare - it's asymmetric information warfare. I doubt any terror grouping in the world understands this fact better than al Qaeda.

Posted by: Michael Turner (AKA Treasonous Fucking Bastard) at May 13, 2004 05:45 AM

Hmmm...nothing from Michael about a man getting his head chopped off in cold blood.

But so much compassion for genocidal killers! Hell, these Iraqis didn't even have cable TV in their cells! Outrage! Shameful!

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 05:45 AM

Doug, it's like you said, "that is NOT what was done in Iraq." You can at least try and defend torture as a means to an end, but there was no end in torturing the Iraqis at Abu Ghraib.

It was sadistic and senseless torture that occured for absolutely no reason. They weren't even trying to accomplish anything with what they did! They just did it for shits and giggles: Crimes Against Humanity.

James Inhofe is a fucking idiot, Doug. The guy gave a speech in front of Congress arguing that we ought to unconditionally support the Israelis in whatever they do "BECAUSE GOD SAID SO". He opened up his fucking Bible and starting reading a chapter out of Genesis, for Christ's sake!!!

You're defending a bonafide zionist who defends American sadism and who's outraged at those who would suggest otherwise. I just thought you might like to know.

And I'm more outraged at those who served at Abu Ghraib than I am those who criticize what happened there not because Saddam never tortured anybody, but because when it comes to this it doesn't matter to me how many people Saddam tortured. WE'RE NOT SADDAM!!!

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 05:55 AM

Jesus H. Fucking Christ!!!

One on side of the debate we have this Turner fellow who describes what happened to Nick Berg as "great theater" and on the other we have EX mocking the compassion people have for Iraqis getting raped and beaten and shocked and tortured at the hands of Americans.

My Conclusion: Neither side takes the value of human life very seriously. One side views the cold-blooded murder of an innocent American as entertainment and the other views the sadistic and senseless torture of Iraqis as justifiable, implicitly.

Witness the wingnut mentality, ladies and gentlemen. Leftists always blame America and Rightists never do. Doesn't matter who's actually to blame, it's always America to some and never America to others.

No point in my being here any longer. Ideology dictates now. I'm out.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 06:05 AM

One last thing before I go, everybody please go back and read Michael's last paragraph there. You know, the one about it being possible to support our soldiers and humanitarian do-gooders at the same time. It'd do y'all alot of good.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 06:09 AM

Thanks for the preaching, Brother Grant. For the record I don't think most these genocidal animals qualify as human. If they caught the ANIMALS that beheaded Nick Berg, would you give a shit if they "tortured" them? Or if "torturing" them yielded information that would prevent future murders?

Well, maybe you would. Afterall, preservation of your self-annointed, good-vibrations, childish, mush-headed centrist ideology is the supreme value.

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 06:17 AM

Oh, and one more "one last thing"...

Some of the soldiers in the pictures torturing the Iraqis are now saying they were merely ordered to do so. I just want to say that I for one don't give a shit. That old bull shit excuse didn't work at the Nuremberg Trials and it shouldn't now. If they were ordered to, all that changes is the number of people who need to go to jail for 20+ years along with them.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 06:20 AM

We have Godwin's Law violation #1. Which ex-hippie will bring up Vietnam?

Pat yourselves on the back, all of you. Your shame is testiment to your annointed nobility. Maybe it will replace a few adiministrative positions in the government too! A new bureaucrat, wouldn't that change the world!

Meanwhile the military already solved the problem. Meanwhile a man had his head cut off. But don't watch that. Don't think about the implications. Just be a good little boy or girl and pat yourself on the back.

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 06:25 AM

Grant McEntire writes: "James Inhofe is a fucking idiot, Doug. The guy gave a speech in front of Congress arguing that we ought to unconditionally support the Israelis in whatever they do "BECAUSE GOD SAID SO". He opened up his fucking Bible and starting reading a chapter out of Genesis, for Christ's sake!!!"

I wouldn't say that makes him an idiot, per se. It may mean only that he represents Oklahama better than anyone else could.

He's certainly no beast. Read his tribute to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, with whom he shared vanishingly political ground. He says the only liberal whom he felt had similar courage and integrity was Paul Wellstone. Tilt.

Many of his opinions may be moronic, but hey, he's a politician in a democracy. That bible-thumping schtick works well, where he comes from. On one level, he may well know that the Middle East can't be reduced to simplistic theocratic terms. On another level, ... well, he's gotta get reelected or he can't work his other agendas for his constituency. This is what democracies make politicians do. Democracy is, as Churchill said, the worst system except for all the others that have been tried from time to time. Inhofe is just a product of that system.

Posted by: Michael Turner at May 13, 2004 06:26 AM

You're un-American, EX, justifying torture for no real reason or purpose other than to inflict pain and suffering. The Founding Fathers would bitch slap you something terrible were they still alive. You know that right?

The bastards that killed Nick Berg are animals. So are the troops who committed the sadism at Abu Ghraib. In not fully calling them both out, you join their ranks.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 06:26 AM

I justify nothing. The soliders who did it should and will be punished. Probably worse than those who behead the innocent. The fact you put both sets on the same moral plane is vile, disgusting and irrational.

The only thing I am guilty of Grant is actually thinking instead of politicking.

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 06:37 AM

And as for the Berg question, EX...

If they caught the bastards and proceeded to torture them for no reason whatsoever, yes, I would most definitely oppose that. Not because they don't deserve it, but because America is better than that. We're not the animals and we shouldn't be acting like it.

As for torturing them with the intent of preventing future murders, I would say it's probably justified though wholly unneccesary. Hard torture as a form of interogation has proven to be no more successful than other methods in getting prisoners to talk. This fact has been widely established. Torture also has the downside in that they're more liable to lie in the heat of the moment if they think the lie will prevent future torture better than the truth.

This "childish", "mushy-headed" stuff to which you were refering is called logic. And in the case of torturing them for no reason: Standing behind the principles upon which this country was founded...in other words, patriotism.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 06:40 AM

Grant McEntire writes: "... we have this Turner fellow who describes what happened to Nick Berg as "great theater" ..."

Try taking my remarks in context. (That context notably included my inability to look at the video, even now.)

It was a theatrical production. It was intended to have a dramatic impact. It was scripted, choreographed. It was also a cold-blooded murder, a heinous crime. I can't help but be disgusted, horrified, appalled. However, I also refuse to be manipulated in the way that they want, if I can possibly help it.

"My Conclusion: Neither side takes the value of human life very seriously. One side views the cold-blooded murder of an innocent American as entertainment ...."

I never said it was entertainment. I did say it was great theater, and I didn't mean it was great theater and therefore not a horrific crime. It derives much of its power precisely from being a horrific crime.

Be appalled. But don't be manipulated. Think about what they want you to think, then think independently about whether the course of action they hope to set you upon actually makes sense.

If you want to fight the War on Terror in some way that you think is right (obviously, Michael Totten and I differ on that, and even on definitions of the enemy), who would you rather fight beside: someone who sink to their knees intellectually, in horror at every atrocity committed by the enemy? Or someone who notes the angle of fire, the damage done, and says, "Jesus H. Christ! That was a good shot. These guys may be ruthless, but they aren't idiots."

The terrorists aren't beasts. They are men with brains who know that acting like beasts will make most of us underestimate them in ways that are useful to them, and also make us overestimate them in ways that are useful to them. Acts calculated to shock put them at a psychological advantage over those taken by surprise. Don't let them hold that advantage over you for longer than it takes you to get a few deep breaths. Start thinking again as soon as possible.

The terrorists aren't beasts. They are a much more dangerous kind of animal: they are human beings. True victory over them will depend on keeping that fact in mind.

Posted by: Michael Turner at May 13, 2004 06:46 AM

And I'm not putting the two acts on the same moral plane. The killing of Nick Berg is the far worse crime.

I'm only as upset about what we did as I am because I would expect more out of the United States.

The terrorists who killed Nick Berg are animals and so I almost expect them to act like it. Our men and women in uniform are not animals, however, and so it greatly upsets me that a few of them are acting more like the terrorist-animals than upholding everything the uniform stands for.

If it seems I'm more upset about Abu Ghraib than I am Nick Berg, it's only because I know America to be better than what we did. My anger is coming from a sense of patriotism in that I'm very upset with those tarnishing my country.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 06:48 AM

Michael Turner: Great points. As clarrification, my definition of these creatures as "animals" is strictly on a moral plane. I agree we cannot ignore that the video was a weapon like any other, wielded with tactical and strategic purpose. But it was also a peek at their hand, a view of how little they hold individual human dignity in esteem. They are fully capable of nuking a city (if they had the means).

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 06:52 AM

Can someone explain to me where in this quote that Sen. Inhofe said the abuse at Abu Ghraib was okay:

"I hasten to say yeah, there are seven bad guys and gals that didn't do what they should have done. They were misguided, I think maybe even perverted, and the things that they did have to be punished. And they're being punished. They're being tried right now, and that's all taking place. But I'm also outraged by the press and the politicians and the political agendas that are being served by this, and I say political agendas because that's actually what is happening."

"I also am -- and have to say, when we talk about the treatment of these prisoners, that I would guess that these prisoners wake up every morning thanking Allah that Saddam Hussein is not in charge of these prisoners. When he was in charge they would take electric drills and drill holes through hands, they would cut their tongues out, they would cut their ears off. We've seen accounts of lowering their bodies into vats of acid. All these things were taking place. This was the type of treatment that they had."

"And I would want everyone to get this and read it. This is a documentary of the Iraq special report. It talks about the unspeakable acts of mass murder, unspeakable acts of torture, unspeakable acts of mutilation, the murdering of kids -- lining up 312 little kids under 12 years old and executing them, and then of course what they do to Americans, too.

"There's one story in here that was in the I think it was The New York Times, yes, on June 2nd. I suggest everyone take that -- get that and read it. It's about one of the prisoners who did escape as they were marched out there, blindfolded and put before mass graves, and they mowed them down and they buried them. This man was buried alive and he clawed his way out and was able to tell his story. And I ask, Mr. Chairman, at this point in the record that this account of the brutality of Saddam Hussein be entered into the record, made a part of the record."

He is explicitly outraged by the outrage - some would say lack of perspective - he is not defending or arguing in favor of the military's behavior at Abu Ghraib.

Posted by: steve at May 13, 2004 06:52 AM

First of all Grant, it wasn't the "United States." It was a handful of individuals. Secondly, how dare you judge them? I agree that it isn't justified. But it is UNDERSTANDABLE. Which is why there are systems in place to react and fix the problem (and those systems are not the defeatists on the left!). Third, the abuse scandel is a tempest in a teapot, a manufactured scandel to undermine the war. Finally, you are a mush-head. You are attempting to shame me into submitting to your view (as mush-heads do) instead of thinking. Luckily you can still plug in your brain and remove your mush-head status.

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 06:58 AM

Hey Grant, you are probably out by now, and on your "away." Good luck. Hopes and good wishes. One day at a time.

You fought a hell of a battle aginst Inhofe's apologists here. I agree 100%. But then I'm one of those mush-headed centrists who is willing to put sticking a cattle prod up someone's @ss in the "always wrong" category.

Posted by: bk at May 13, 2004 06:58 AM

"I believe that what happened at Abu Ghraib harmed the war effort. For that reason, and that reason alone, I believe that those who perpetrated the events at Abu Ghraib must be punished"...

HA -- Glad to see you admit at least the possibility that "we [could] become that which we are fighting." What are you doing to guard against that risk?

The ONLY reason the actions harmed the war effort is because they were broadcast to the world. If they hadn't gotten out, they wouldn't have harmed the war effort. Would it not be more accurate to say then that you are opposed to the fact that they were publicized?

HA, I hearby pronounce thee "Machiavellian moral relativist."

Posted by: Markus Rose at May 13, 2004 07:00 AM

I read somewhere once an explanation of the differing ideas of patriotism in this country...

Conservatives, the man said, love their country the way a child loves his mother. They love her unconditionally, but tend to think their country (like a child to his mother) can do no wrong. Their patriotism is more like nationalism than anything. Didn't they used to have old bumper stickers that said "My Country: Right or Wrong"? It's kind of like that.

But liberals (not leftists, mind you, who are not patriotic in any sense of the word) love their country, the man said, more like a husband loves his wife. It's more mature and grown-up. The liberal patriot loves his country unconditionally as well, but loves her for the principles upon which she was founded. That means, in other words, that according to the theory the liberal patriot can question and even denounce the actions of his country if he feels she has lost her way. Thomas Jefferson once said, "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism". It's kind of like that.

Just thought I'd throw this out there. I more or less agree with this, other than to make a stronger point than the author did in saying that there's a hell of a difference between a liberal and leftist.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 07:01 AM

Grant: Thanks for the lesson. So conservatvives are just blind idiots? You forgot to add they are greedy and fascist. Not a very original contribution.

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 07:05 AM

PS: Repeating a Party Line is not dissent.

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 07:06 AM

You silly people,

Let's see:

1. American Soliders torture prisoners of war, now we find its possibly under orders.

2. Terrorists commit an act of terror.

Let's see if the Bushites can play the old Sesame St game "One of these things does not belong"!

Well, Terrorists are bad people who do bad things. I kinda remember something about planes and buildings a couple years back, which makes a ritual beheading look like a small legume. Ergo, if someone said "Would you be surprised if extremist muslim terrorists chopped the head off of someone?" most Americans would say "No, I wouldn't be surprised."

Americans are supposed to be better. Thats why we supposedly went over there... well at least thats what we're told now... I was sure there were Weapons of Mass Distraction or something... but I digress.

Ask an American if they would be surprised to learn that American soliders may be torturing prisoners under orders, and your answer will probably be much more along the lines of "They would never do such a thing!"

Bringing up the beheading of Nick is nothing more than a desperate red herring tossed about hoping
to bury the black eye of Abu Ghraib.

But, feign indignation, shout and scream about the left wing media and the hippies. Do what makes you able to sleep at night.

The Law of Hell says that Hell is reserved for those that believe in it. The deepest pit of Hell is reserved for those that believe in it, only because they afraid of going there if they don't.

Say hi to Ol' Toby when you see him.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 07:07 AM

Steve, quoting Inhofe's testimony at some length, asks: "Can someone explain to me where in this quote that Sen. Inhofe said the abuse at Abu Ghraib was okay?"

Steve, can you tell me where, in either Michael Totten's post or in any of the followups in the comment section, somebody accused Inhofe of condoning that abuse? I know I didn't, and I can't see where anyone else did.

What's the name of this particular 'debating tactic' again? I forget.

Michael Totten seems to be outraged that somebody says he's more outraged over the outrage over Abu Ghraib than he is over the actual abuses. Me, I just figured somebody was going to take this stance at some point - most likely a politician whose district contributed a disproportionate number of soldiers to the war. Inhofe may be politically calculating here, or he might simply be as emotional and sincere as John Kerry was in 1971 about Vietnam, while being similarly impolitic and inaccurate. Inhofe may actually think he's the conscience of America. Or he may think he's sounding like he thinks his constituency thinks the conscience of America should sound like. That's between him and his conscience.

Never forget that it's a politician talking whenever it's ... a politician talking.

Posted by: Michael Turner at May 13, 2004 07:08 AM

Why are Americans supposed to be better? Are we saints and angels? Perhaps we are not all are as morally pure as the chosen annoited we are blessed with here. Hence we have systems in place in our military and other institutions which appear to have worked.

But that won't stop some self-hating Americans from using the issue as a political weapon.

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 07:17 AM

Inhofe may actually think he's the conscience of America. Or he may think he's sounding like he thinks his constituency thinks the conscience of America should sound like. That's between him and his conscience.

Agreed. I don't know the motivation behind his remarks, and quite frankly I'm not sure that I really care. While I'm not "outraged over the outrage", I can see where someone can feel that way, especially when taking into account recent events.

With that said, the horrible death of Mr. Berg does not make the abuses null and void. Puts them in perspective, maybe, but even perhaps that is wrong.

Posted by: jrr at May 13, 2004 07:17 AM

Ex:

"Why are Americans supposed to be better?"

What an absolutely brainless comment. What the hell are we doing in Iraq if we aren't better?

Grasp at those straws, cause your falling off the roof pretty fast.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 07:20 AM

Why are Americans supposed to be better? Are we saints and angels?

If you mean that in the context of this war, or in the sense that "to beat pure evil, you gotta be a little evil yourself", then that's worth debating. I don't think I agree with that, but I understand your point.

But I don't know if that's supposed to be taken in context, or a general statement. If it is a general statement, that's pretty morbid.

Posted by: jrr at May 13, 2004 07:21 AM

STEVE...

You said that he's explicitly outraged by the outrage. That, in and of itself, doesn't really bother me so much. What bothers me is that he said he's more outraged at the outrage than he is the treatment. That to me seems extremely un-American and in line with the false "conservative patriotism" I was talking about a minute ago.

He's more outraged that people are criticizing Americans than he is Americans not acting like Americans should. The way I see it, if he were to be more outraged at the treatment then he would be outraged on principle. But he's not. He's more outraged at the people being outraged on principle (and yes, yes, the ones manipulating it too but that's not the point).

I guess what I'm trying to say, I might as well just throw it out there, is that liberals love their country on principle and that conservatives love their country...well...just because America is always right. Inhofe is loving his country because his country is always right and at the same time bashing those who love their country on principle. Call me a damned arrogant liberal if you want, but that's what I think and that's why I'm so peeved at the guy for saying it.

John McCain was so upset by what he said that he had to leave the room, by the way, so it's not just liberals who love their country on principle. McCain understands why America doesn't and shouldn't torture its prisoners even when others are more than willing to torture us in return. AND HE WAS IN THE FRICKIN' HANOI HILTON FOR 4 YEARS!!! If anybody should be out for revenge or really not be giving a shit either way, it's him. But he gets it. We're better than that, on principle. It's what makes us great.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 07:22 AM

Tosk: We are in Iraq to kill those who are worse. That does not make us angels. But please don't question your premises! We wouldn't want to actually discuss anything here!

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 07:24 AM

jrr: It is just the sad truth. There are bad people in the US military and always will be. War is hell.

That isn't news and is the reason for internal checks within the military. The checks worked. This so-called "outrage" is politicking. And disgusting now that we have once again seen the extent of the threat from our enemies.

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 07:31 AM

Grant,

Well said!

I love the America that could be, a land where the federal government concerns itself with protecting the right to Life, Liberty and the Persuit of Happiness, where the populace invokes its will at the local and state level for most issues, and where the words "All Men are Created Equal", are actually understood by most of the population, instead of mistranslated into "All Americans Are Created Equal".

But, it doesn't matter... the apologists here and on other blogs are unable to understand anything that doesn't make their position look like sitting at the right hand of God.

They live in a different reality I think, one where deluding oneself is akin to sucess and happiness. They are cabbages, fit for coleslaw, sourkraut and maybe a soup or stew. You can peel away their dogmas, their prejudices and their hate, but when you get to the center, you find, not a brain, but a bitter core.

Me, I'm eating more cole slaw. YUM!

Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord
Maker of Right Wing ColeSlaw

"Have some with our Fried Compassionate Conservative Dinner."

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 07:31 AM

Sorry to interrupt Grant's sanctimonious finger-wagging.

Anyway, the second statement about the "humanitarian do-gooders" is pretty silly. However, I completely agree with Inhofe's first statement and I'm glad that a politician had the guts to say it. (Insert standard disclaimer. What happened at Abu Ghraib was horrible, deplorable, morally wrong, yadda yadda yadda) The level of "outrage", which I think deserves scare quotes because most of it wasn't genuine but was politically motivated and was led by people who opposed every aspect of the war from the beggining, has been totally disproportionate and hysterical. It's been seized upon and hyped by the media endlessly to the point that it's caused even war supporters to endorse bizarre concepts like forcing the Secretary of Defense to resign because of the misconduct of at most, some small minority of soldiers, an event that would have, literally, no precedent in the history of the world. There's outrage fatigue on Abu Ghraib, thanks to the 24/7 Media campaign, but the over-the-top and partisan reaction (see Kennedy, Ted) is by this point far more outrageous.

I don't know what world pro-war liberals live in where they thought we could fight this war with no atrocities of any kind being committed by our side. There's never been a war in history in which both sides haven't committed atrocities. Our soldiers did far worse to the original Nazis. Was it terrible? Yes. Is war terrible? obviously. Did it invalidate that war effort? no.

The differnece between us and virtually all other countries is that when we commit atrocities the generals are held to account and the Secretary of Defense ends up fighting for his life in front of Congress. We're fighting in a part of the world where rape, torture, and murder are official state policy, directed from the highest levels of the governments there with no remorse or equivocation.

The only truly stupid "right wing meme" I've seen on this has been Rush Limbaugh and Charles Johnson saying that the word "torture" should never bee invoked in this case and that the whole thing was more like frat boy stunts. That indeed, was ridiculous and deserved to be pointed out. Only, however, if the reports of guys being sodomized with light sticks are true. That's torture no matter how you slice it.

The human pyramids and stuff aren't torture but are more like "shock art" by Mappelthorpe or someone. I'm surprised to see lefties wanting to censor this kind of transgressive, breakthrough work. (Throwaway line. Obvs.)

Posted by: Eric Deamer at May 13, 2004 07:32 AM

Ex:

Nope, you don't bother basing your arguments on anything but anger, empty words and temper tantrums, so I figured that's your prefered method of discourse. I always try to talk on a level my audience can understand. giggle

Checks Ex to see if he's ripe for Conservative Coleslaw

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 07:34 AM

How some people could possibly think this makes the decision to go to War any less just is beyond me. The Left is in a pretty sad state, indeed.

--this is the most encouraging post of the day. now some over 40% of Americans are left wing by your view.

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 07:34 AM

EX...

You mock the "liberal patriotism/conservative patriotism" thing, but I think there's some merit to it.

There were bumper stickers like that back in the day, weren't there? And was that not pretty much the position of the Right at the time?...that, right or wrong about Vietnam, it's somehow unpatriotic to protest it and show dissent?

Was it not John Ashcroft who labeled those civil-libertarians who, out of a sense of protection for the Bill of Rights, stood against certain parts of the Patriot Act? Was it not he who said, in fact, "those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty...only aid terrorists"?

I think there's a real merit to what this guy said, man. History's littered with examples of conservatives calling others unpatriotic and un-American for questioning things on the basis of Constitutional principle. The John Birch Society and J. Edgar Hoover come to mind.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 07:35 AM

The human pyramids and stuff aren't torture but are more like "shock art" by Mappelthorpe or someone.

--hmmm. i don't recall mappelthorpe forcing detained prisoners to take broom sticks up their butts, nor did he punch anyone against their will, kill anyone, rape anyone, force them against their will to do anything,. your analogy is weak in the extreme.

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 07:36 AM

The orgy of self-flagellation over Abu Ghraib is obscene. What happened there is disgraceful, but...

Hmm, why does this remind me of lefties saying things along the lines of "9/11 was a terrible tragedy, but..."?

Posted by: Stephen Silver at May 13, 2004 07:37 AM

left wing?

http://www.w3schools.com/Visit W3Schools

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 07:38 AM

How about this quote:

"I still haven’t found anyone who explicitly supports the torture of Iraqis in Abu Ghraib prison. But some people do like to push it."

The implication being that "push it" is close, if not actual, support for the actions of the guards at Abu Ghraib - or am I overreacting?

He's outraged by the lack of context and perspective, but not as an argument in favor of what was done.

At the risk of being accused of being a Conservative with Liberal tendencies, let me say this: there is a distinction to be made based on the fact that our response to the actions of those soldiers at Abu Ghraib (and I admit we don't know the entirety of the list of participants) is to identify, prosecute, and punish the perpetrators. It is useful and legitimate to compare our response to that of our enemy.

Where is the outrage in the Arab world at Saddam's atrocities? Where is the outrage at Nick Berg's execution?

Here is a link to a summary of all the self-directed outrage in the Arab world/press:

www.theydonteffingexist.com

Posted by: steve at May 13, 2004 07:40 AM

Hmm, why does this remind me of lefties saying things along the lines of "9/11 was a terrible tragedy, but..."?

--actually it's different, very different. you won't find leftists who say, '911 is justifiable'. you will find people like the good senator from oklahoma saying exactly that.

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 07:40 AM

Hmm, why does this remind me of lefties saying things along the lines of "9/11 was a terrible tragedy, but..."?

Because you're a moron. 9/11= 3,000 innocent civilians just going about their daily business being massacred. No "but" justifies that. Abu Ghraib = well, I won't say exactly, because the media has already credulously repeated a bunch of fake stories and pictures, so we don't know what for sure.

We've already seen Abu Ghraib= My Lai, Abu Ghraib=Algeria, Abu Ghraib=Saddam, and now Steve Silver gives us Abu Ghraib=9/11. Can Abu Ghraib= Auschwitz be far behind? I shudder to think.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at May 13, 2004 07:41 AM

Grant: Speaking of logic and debating who REAL patriots are, ever hear of the true scotsmen fallacy?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 07:42 AM

we have a new justification here, '911' was worse than abu graib, therefore the latter was justified.

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 07:43 AM

Eric, don't bother. It's a bot. MT, it's ruining your comments section.

Posted by: Jim at May 13, 2004 07:46 AM

I don't recall mappelthorpe forcing detained prisoners to take broom sticks up their butts, nor did he punch anyone against their will, kill anyone, rape anyone, force them against their will to do anything,. your analogy is weak in the extreme

I said specifically that I was referring to stuff like the human pyramid, not the more serious stuff. At least put the bong down and read the comment you're responding to before you post your drivel please.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at May 13, 2004 07:46 AM

Calibar, you're full of shit and you know it. Leftists have tried every which way since 9/11 to blame what happened on us. They empathized with the poverty and put themselves in their shoes and yada yada yada...

I had a fucking class last semester in which half the class discussion was based on whether or not the 9/11 attacks were truly terrorism at all. Don't tell me there isn't an attempt to justify the shit and pin it on the "American Imperialists". I see this BS every single day.

Let me make sense of this for you, Steve. As I said earlier, leftists always blame America and Rightists never do.

That's why Leftists have tried to blame America for 9/11 and that's why Rightists can't accept responsibility for Abu Ghraib without putting a conditional "but" on the end. Leftists and Rightists don't think. They're wingnuts. It's only ideology.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 07:48 AM

I said specifically that I was referring to stuff like the human pyramid, not the more serious stuff.

--again, the analogy is weak and loopy. mappelthorpe didn't force with violence his subjects to engage in such acts.
so much for the bong.

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 07:48 AM

Leftists have tried every which way since 9/11 to blame what happened on us. They empathized with the poverty and put themselves in their shoes and yada yada yada...

--stop talking about president Bush like that, for you are referring to things that Bush has said countless times in the aftermath of 911. not to mention his military advisors. get real.

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 07:49 AM

Eric,

"Because you're a moron."

You know you should really stop talking about yourself. Your post was pathetic, I had once considered you one of the more literate of the cabbages, but... alas, your leaves are showing.

Where is my slaw sauce?

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 07:49 AM

Eric, don't bother. It's a bot. MT, it's ruining your comments section.

I'm getting that sense. Perhaps we should administer a Turing test?

Posted by: Eric Deamer at May 13, 2004 07:50 AM

Can Abu Ghraib= Auschwitz be far behind? I shudder to think.

Easy there. Someone may say it for shock value; Ted Kennedy's "Shamefully, we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management: U.S. management." blurb was a dumb one, but your average liberal won't follow suit.

Posted by: jrr at May 13, 2004 07:51 AM

Grant: It isn't that simple and ignoring their arguments is put blinders on.

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 07:51 AM

"They're wingnuts. It's only ideology."

Hear Hear! Grant says five words that describe the entire political blogsphere!

(And it conforms to The Law Of Fives)

Well done Grant, I doff my hat to you!

Tosk (and believe me, a squirrel in a hat looks silly!)

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 07:51 AM

You know you should really stop talking about yourself.

So, in essence "I know you are but what am I"? Is that really the best you can do there Tosk?

Posted by: Eric Deamer at May 13, 2004 07:52 AM

I had a fucking class last semester in which half the class discussion was based on whether or not the 9/11 attacks were truly terrorism at all.

--what's wrong with discussing that, if there are those out there who actually think it's not terrorism. The best way to strengthen the argument that it is terrorism is to confront the counterargument.
I don't recall reading in The Nation, In These Times, The Progressive, Monthly Review, etc. writers who have said that 911 wasn't an act of terrorism. Please show me where the writers in these journals have argued that.

As I said earlier, leftists always blame America and Rightists never do.

--really? you blame an entire segment of the American population for sympathising with the attackers, you must be kidding. not only that, you also blame liberals for being too soft on terrorism and thereby causing it.
---------------------------

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 07:53 AM

Eric: Your time has got to be more valuable that sparring with the chomskybots.

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 07:54 AM

Okay...well, if you actually want to talk to me like a human being for a change, EX, I'd be more than happy to hear your reasoning of how I'm ignoring anybody's agrument and wearing blinders.

Otherwise, if you just want to keep on calling me names and talking about cole-slaw like the good little troll, don't even bother.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 07:55 AM

my own perspective is quite simple actually, we need the alleviation of global poverty and other socio-economic ills from which terrorism draws its strength.

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 07:57 AM

You know, it's not just "Chomskybots" that are ruining this site. As far Left as they are fellas, a few of you are equally off in looney land to the Right.

I'm here bridging the Chomsky/Birch divide and it's getting old.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 07:58 AM

"So, in essence "I know you are but what am I"? Is that really the best you can do there Tosk?"

Eric m'dear, that is exactly right. I've tried to have actual conversations with the conservative cabbages, yet they respond with crap, not debate. So I have happily lowered my standard to match yours. Enjoy, you leafy headed vegatable... just watch out for my automatic conservative cloeslaw maker. Yum!

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 07:58 AM

well, grant, has it occured to you that if we get rid of global poverty that we can weaken terrorism?

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 08:00 AM

Grant: You don't consider me a troll, otherwise you wouldn't respond. If you do consider me a troll and still respond you are a bigger mush-head than I thought. But you are so very close to not being a mush-head!

Anyway, to answer your question: Essentially you are saying that arugments from those with extreem opinions (or bias) are invalid. That is just dodging their arguments.

PS: I never claimed to not be an a-hole!

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 08:01 AM

9/11= 3,000 innocent civilians just going about their daily business being massacred. No "but" justifies that. .

We've already seen Abu Ghraib= My Lai, Abu Ghraib=Algeria, Abu Ghraib=Saddam, and now Steve Silver gives us Abu Ghraib=9/11. Can Abu Ghraib= Auschwitz be far behind? I shudder to think.

I've said none of those things, of course, and I'm not saying Abu Ghraib=9/11. But "it's not as bad as 9/11" or "not as bad as Saddam" is no defense at all. For those to say "it was a terrible atrocity, but" is similarly an attempt to defend, justify, and rationalize the indefensible by making excuses for it.

Posted by: Stephen Silver at May 13, 2004 08:02 AM

Grant: Who said I was on the Right?

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 08:03 AM

well, grant, has it occured to you that if we get rid of global poverty that we can weaken terrorism?

You act as if this can be done so easily.

I should go to the IMF in an effort to try and refinance my college loans. The looks I'll get should be priceless.

Posted by: jrr at May 13, 2004 08:03 AM

Ex,

"Essentially you are saying that arugments from those with extreem opinions (or bias) are invalid."

Duh! Bias makes an argument invalid. A valid argument must be based in fact, not the emotion of bias. Its really ashame that you never took any debate classes, you might have learned how to communicate. But, communicative cabbages are a rarity.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 08:05 AM

Okay, Tosk, was that sarcasm a minute ago when you were talking about summing up the blogosphere in only 5 words or not?

Because I can't tell.

If it isn't, well then just let me say that Michael's site wasn't always like this. The John Birch types showed up one day and the whole place became overrun with uber-cons. Then, all of a sudden, the leftist brigade arrived to combat John Birch with Chomsky and Marx! And it's just kind of getting sucked into a giant black hole now.

But if that was sarcasm...well, then, fuck you! ;)

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 08:05 AM

EX...

If you say you're not on the Right then just let me ask...is there something further to the Right than the Right in your world that wraps back around or something?

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 08:08 AM

Grant:

You seem like a really nice guy, and I agree with your position on an issue probably 90% of the time, no joke, however, I find that oftentimes you present yourself in a condescending, holier-than-thou manner which doesn't serve you well, and you're really doing that in this thread.

Anyway, I admire the fact that you've been able to shake off the leftist indoctrination of college while you're still in college, but sometimes, I could be wrong, perhaps your youth shows, in the way I described above? I don't think you should take offense at this as it's a subject you've mentioned here.

As for everyone else. Yes, ex, you're right. This has become a complete waste of time. I've never been a regular commenter here, but the quality of commenting here seems to have gone way down, mostly due to bots like calibar, and immature, self-regarding jerks like Ratatosk, whose tiresome shtick is as welcome everywhere as a fart in church. I'm sorry that this has happened here.

I think, with due respect however, that Grant is wrong to describe it as Chomskybot/Bircher divide. While calibar displays about the same level of original thought and humanity as a Chomskybot, I don't think anyone here is remotely a "Bircher", and this is an innacurate and out-of-date slander. Jon Birch types are more like the "paleo-cons" of today, isolationist, anti-Semitic (though not nearly as openly anti-Semitic as the far left is now) and bare very little relationship to mainstream conservatives of today.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at May 13, 2004 08:10 AM

Grant: You need a new model. The world is not two-dimensional.

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 08:11 AM

Grant,

It was not sarcasm, I was applauding your statement.

Eric the Awful says : you present yourself in a condescending, holier-than-thou manner which doesn't serve you well, and you're really doing that in this thread.

Talk about the Pot calling the Kitchen Sink black!!! This is from "Eric I'm reasonable and everyone who doesn't agree with me is a self-important ass Deamer. Whoo Hoo, we're way off in fantasy land now!

And he opened his mout and this little nugget fell out:
"...immature, self-regarding jerks like Ratatosk, whose tiresome shtick is as welcome everywhere as a fart in church. "

The eloquence of Eric is rare in cabbages, usually they revert to words like commie, pinko, American hater, etc.... but he constrains himself to self-regarding jerk, and from a cabbage whose shown no real understanding of anything going on, I consider it a compliment that he can even get my name right. Thanks Eric... you remind me why I like coleslaw.

Yum Yum,

tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 08:19 AM

You know, EX, I would have said the same exact thing to you. I can't recall you ever not taking the hard-right opinion on something. Please, explain to me how you're not a conservative.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 08:20 AM

And Eric, please explain to me how (outside of this thread because in this thread I AM being a bit of a prick) I act holier-than-thou or condescending.

I honestly want to know. If you think I'm being an asshole all this time, maybe I am being an asshole all this time and I didn't even realize it. If I'm being an asshole, I want to change that. But I don't think I am. So, explain.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 08:24 AM

Oh, by the way, I'm not trolling. Trolls attempt to start arguments, flame wars etc... Like posting to a linux newsgroup, something extremely pro-microsoft. What I am doing is somewhat different, this is called abuse. Its fun, enjpoyable and gets me all sorts of points with Eris (who is one hot babe, even if she is older than the universe).

Of course, I don't expcet cabbages to understand the difference... perhaps if I speak in theri language:

Frop, Fnord, Kulli Kulli Bang Bang! CUHH IA fathagan!

Ok, I think they understood that.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 08:25 AM

We're in Iraq because a system of democracy, with great respect for human rights, is a better system for (almost) all humans to live in.
The SYSTEM is better, or not -- not the people.

And the Rumsfeld led system was working, certainly deserving of some criticism, as of Jan. getting rid of a General.

Sacking a general for mostly misdemeanor level of abuse. I am a little "outraged at the outrage." Sorry, it is really stupid to believe Americans as guards will never be abusive in any country where they are not almost universally cheered as liberators. Stanford Prison Experiment. Plus the US prison rape scandals.

Michael JT, on a scale of badness, 1 to 10, please try to rate the acts of the guards.

Hitler's 10 million death camp murders, -10;
also Pol Pot; Stalin; Mao.
Saddam's mass graves, -9;
The allies fire-bombing Dresden, -8.
(because of the timing -- had it occurred six or more months prior, it wouldn't be so bad)
Japan's Pearl Harbor attack, -7 (Nanking, -9)
Hiroshima nuke, -5
...
Individual beheading (Berg, Daniel Pearl) -3
Lynchings, murders, -3
Manslaughter, rapes, under stress killings, -2
Non-fatal abuse in prison, -1

I understand there have been some 25 Iraqis who have died in US custody -- perhaps 10-15 are murders, each of which would be a worse act than what most trophy fotos show.

If you can't quantify it, you can't rationally compare it. Be honest, put this abuse on a graph with Hitler and much closer to the 0 line. I'm sick of the "America isn't perfect, Bush is Hitler" Leftist junk.

Where is talk of the Jewish mother murdered, with her 4 kids? Little room, too much Abu outrage.
What about genocide in Sudan? Abu outrage takes the space.
Increases in rapes in S. Africa? Abu shows the US is terrible.
Future famine in Zimbabwe? Abu is the outrage this week.
Journalists jailed in Cuba? UNSCAM oil for bribes & terror? Saudi support for export of hate? The Arab League calling for more Arab democracy? (good news!) -- Abu, Abu, Abu. How much Abu news is too much? We're already there -- it's become neo-sadistic on-looking porn.

Should "torture" ever be used? Or how much; when? I'm outraged at the lack of discussion on this truly difficult and important, and totally relevant subject. Whatever answer you have, there will be two situations: some Americans will wrongly do too much for limited/ useless info (false Positive), some will wrongly do too little, and NOT get info, and then Americans, or other humans, will die (false Negative).

The "never torture" school accepts some bombs murdering folk that could have been prevented, by "better interrogation". Such a discussion doesn't fit in a sound bite, (nor perhaps even on a blog comment). Nor is there any particular right & wrong answer, unless one accepts the never torture one-- as many fundamentalists do, both secular and religious.

Yet Gandhi, unwilling to kill for his beliefs, can only lead against an enemy unwilling to kill for domination. Saddam is willing to kill to dominate, as is AQ. And I'm outraged that so little coverage is happening about the murders and kidnappings of the Iraqi intelligentsia.

If we don't know why the "moderate" Iraqis don't fight against their domination, we won't know why we might really lose.

Posted by: Tom Grey at May 13, 2004 08:27 AM

Grant: Why would I bother to prove a negative?

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 08:28 AM

And to whoever said I need a new model, my model works fine thank you. And it's not just liberal and conservative. In terms of poltics, it's more useful anymore to think of things a little different. And I have my own "model" for thinking of things. My way works pretty damn well, actually.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 08:29 AM

Grant:

"Asshole" would be far too strong a formulation. As I said, I was mostly referring to this thread, which is on a topic that appears to make people get unreasonably heated, and anyway you've admitted that you've gone a bit over-the-top here.

I would have to dig deep into the comment theads the last few days to give concrete examples of what I'm talking about, which I don't have time to do and which would be far too depressing given the general level of the discussions. It may me just a misimpression on my part. I guess what I'm talking about is a lot of instances in which you are "Shocked! Appalled! Outraged!" by something someone,usually right-of-center, says, and then kind of lecture them about it from a position of assumed moral superiority. Really though, it might not be your fault at all. The neighorhoood here seems to really be deteriorating from the way I remember it, and when that happens the new dynamic throws everyone off.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at May 13, 2004 08:35 AM

No, EX, I'm not asking you to prove a negative. Whatever that's supposed to mean. I can tell you up front, from everything you've ever written on this website, that unless you're blowing smoke up all our asses and putting on a front...you're a conservative and you're pretty hard-right.

You said, how do I know you're on the Right. I would say in response, by listening to everything you've ever said here. Maybe you don't think of yourself as being on the Right for some reason. But ya are.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 08:35 AM

Grant: Why would I bother to prove a negative?

Heck, Ex, I'd be happy to see you prove anything, negative, positive, or ground. Your debating skills are such that I'm not sure you could prove that the sky is blue.

But, then cabbages are very good at proving things...

Well, thats not really true... Red cabbage, once its been squashed is good for pH testing.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 08:37 AM

So if you're running a blog with this many people commenting on a regular basis, just how exactly are you supposed to keep it from deteriorating? Is it a matter of monitoring it not enough or something? Steering the conversation in the right direction? I'm just curious.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 08:39 AM

Grant: I don't really have an opinion on how you choose to classify me.

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 08:42 AM

And would the Hiroshima bomb dropping really only be a "5"?!

I know it was all a part of war and what not, but come on! How many tens of thousands died on that day alone? How many hundreds of thousands got cancer and all kinds of problems passed on to their children?

Seems like that would rank a little higher than a "5" in my book.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 08:43 AM

Sorry, but this is a case in point:

And to whoever said I need a new model, my model works fine thank you. And it's not just liberal and conservative. In terms of poltics, it's more useful anymore to think of things a little different. And I have my own "model" for thinking of things. My way works pretty damn well, actually.

Also, see your whole "discussion" with Ex here. As far as we know, Ex is completely right to say that you are looking at things with at two-dimensional model, and an over-simplified one at that. You've casually thrown around the slander "Birchers" to describe vast swaths of conservatives, and the way you're using it I don't think you know what that really means. Then you start bragging about how you really look at things in a much more comlex way, and with a condescending tone. Well, at least do us the honor, of trying to summarize this nuanced way of looking at the world? I think Ex asked a fair question. And, putting someone through some "Prove you're not hard right! Prove it!" inquisition is just obnoxious.

It's good that you are able to call out the far left on their idiocy, but from what I've seen you really don't understand distinctions between different types of conservative thought, yet you still throw the terms around and bash people with them. For instance, you once asserted that National Review is not worth reading because they publish crackpots like WFB. That's ludicrous man. He's the father of modern conservatism and an advocate of legalizing marijuana for one thing. You need to find out more about this stuff, before you start using it against people.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at May 13, 2004 08:45 AM

So if you're running a blog with this many people commenting on a regular basis, just how exactly are you supposed to keep it from deteriorating? Is it a matter of monitoring it not enough or something? Steering the conversation in the right direction? I'm just curious.

That's a really good question. It's sort of a magical process which I can't really explain. One aspect is the blogger monitoring and commenting more, but that takes a lot of time, and it would be churlish to criticize MJT for this if he simply doesn't have it.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at May 13, 2004 08:50 AM

Ex,

You may not care what slot we put you in... but we do. The Illuminati has been watching you for some time, and we have almost reached the point where we will classify you. Right now, you're close to gettiung classified as a cabbage and will not recieve enlightenment (not even with the coupon and the Box Top UPC collection you have under your bed). You can change this though.... if you work hard and eat all your veggies, we might upgrade you to Greyfaced Hunchbrain, at which point we'll simply deposit you into the land of Thud where you won't be a danger to yourself or others. We'll also keep sharp, pointy objects away from you, since we're not sure you have any sense.

Remember, eat all your veggies!

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 08:53 AM

Tosk: Illuminatus wasn't that great a book and RAW does it a lot better than you.

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 08:56 AM

Wow, all these comments while I slept.

I don't have much to add except to say "what Grant said."

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 13, 2004 09:01 AM

I'm not sure that what happened could be fairly characterized as "torture," but I will stipulate that the acts of the US guards were wrong and deserving of punishment. Moreover, the General officer in question was deservedly sacked for lapses of discipline, accountability and training in her unit (see the Taguba Report).

That said, WAY too much is being made of this: abuse occurred, an investigation was commenced in a timely manner, and the legal process is ongoing. There is absolutely no evidence of a whitewash or any tampering with the investigation. In short, nothing is known at this point which would justify the amount of scrutiny and "outrage" (motivated mostly by partisan politics and/or sensationalism, in my view) currently being expressed. Let's let the matter play out, and see what happens.

An M.D. friend of mine commented yesterday that the US has the personality of an addict (short attention span, extremely egocentric personality, very high highs, very low lows, etc.). I have not fully thought this through yet, but he may have a point.

Posted by: Ben at May 13, 2004 09:04 AM

Ex:

Actually, RAW didn't write Illuminatus. It was written by Jon Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt the III (not to be confused with his Uncle who had a song written about him).

And you are a talking monkey... nah nah weehooo oggy boogy.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 09:05 AM

Of course, part of it may also be that I have difficulty mustering the level of outrage necessary to be a real partisan.

Posted by: Ben at May 13, 2004 09:08 AM

Whenever I hear someone mention that we are in a "Just War" I cringe. No war is ever "just". However, there's a world of difference between fighting an invading army hell bent on destroying you and everything you hold dear and a pre-planned, calculated, highly organized effort to change a part of the world through sheer force.

I'm sure the German army commanders truly thought they were "justified" in bombing, killing and occupying the countries they did. Self-righteousness knows no bounds in this world. So get off your high horse and admit that the only reason we are in Iraq is because our government deemed it "righteous" to use force to try to change Iraq into their own image. I suspect the people of Iraq, left to their own designs, would end up like Iran with a cleric controlled government. Is this what our government wants?

Anyway, I digress. Several comments have it right on. Torture is NOT a collateral effect of war. If it was, then the military would excuse it. It's not and it's a criminal act and is punishable. I do think torture, looting, rape, etc. are things that are likely to happen in a large scale war. This is one reason why war is an option of last resort.

How many times has a superpower taken control of a third world country, ending up creating a successful democracy without severely curbing the civil rights of its people or having the whole thing collapse at some point? How many people have died in these failed efforts? History is against us here. Sad as it may seem, the best course of action would have been to rally the world against Saddam's brutality, continue to pressure him and let time take care of the rest. A lot of people would have died, probably more than in this war but eventually you would have a real, people led government.

Posted by: Marc at May 13, 2004 09:09 AM

It's interesting, I asked for a citation from The Nation or In These Times or The Progressive or Monthly Review that stated that 911 wasn't a terrorist event, yet the Mussolini lobby and the 'moderates' haven't been able to provide me with one. What was your point about the left supporting 911 or not saying it was a terrorist event? aside from rhetorical hyperbole?

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 09:10 AM

Grant, no answer on the need to get rid of poverty to get rid of terrorism? or is it your position that that is a left wing position?

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 09:11 AM

Marc!

Don't go talking about anything sensible! Whats wrong with you?! You dare insinuate that America isn't the Hand of Gawd bringing FREEDOM to The HEATHENS?!

For shame,

Tosk

PS this was sarcasm.

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 09:12 AM

Godwins Law violation #2. Thanks Marc! C'mon, we need another Vietnam reference too.

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 09:13 AM

Marc --

If you believe that a government "by the people" would have emerged in Iraq without a war, I have a certain Bridge available for sale that I would like to offer to you. The ONLY chance for a democratic government in Iraq is successful completion of this war effort.

Posted by: Ben at May 13, 2004 09:14 AM

A lot of people would have died, probably more than in this war but eventually you would have a real, people led government.

--very very few mideast experts would agree with you on that contention. the number of deaths, wounded, and amount of economic destruction would have been far less, reference Libya as but one example.

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 09:14 AM

Caliber,

"yet the Mussolini lobby and the 'moderates' haven't been able to provide me with one. "

Of course not... they didn't get that information from something as silly as the news media, it was from the voices that they get psychicly in their minds. You see, Ex, Eric and all the other cabbages hear what they want to hear, see what they want to see and pat each other on the back for the most pitiful, nonsupported comments.

Until you too get Super Conservative Anti-Reality Powers, you will never understand.

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 09:16 AM

The ONLY chance for a democratic government in Iraq is successful completion of this war effort.

--it's definitely the only chance to get your buddy chalabi into office.

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 09:16 AM

Look, this shit's not that complicated:

The John Birch label I do use as a derogatory. You're right. I use it because alot of you guys start echoing this paranoid "enemy within" crap a la the John Birch Society back in the day. Anyone who questions Bush's policies in the War on Terror is soft or implicitly unfocused and unpatriotic. It's hawkishness to the extreme, to a near-comical level, and it's pretty common in the blogosphere. When I bring up the terminology here, I'm not really talking about particular policies or issues. I'm really more trying to hit on the uber-paranoid-Michael-Savage-style rhetoric and attitude and general worldview that alot of you guys go into all the time. I'm not overgeneralizing wide swaths of the Right. I'm just talking about you and a few others at this site. And, yeah, the analogy fits.

Secondly, I'm taken aback at the fact that you two are calling me oversimplified. Everything to you guys is black-and-white all the time. You're like "you're either with us or against us" pep squad. I've never EVER heard EX take even a moderately-liberal stand on anything. Usually his thoughts are what I would consider to be to the Right of the Republican Party. But then he comes across and asks me how I know he's on the Right. This is a beyond dumb question. Asking him to explain how he could possibly be anywhere else but the Right isn't that crazy when he's trying to hint to me that he's not somehow. It's not obnoxious and oversimplified or whatever the fuck you want to call it. He hinted at something absurd and I was just hoping he'd follow up on that.

Third...that William Buckley wants to legalize weed is mighty fine with me. I didn't know that and I'll be the first to say, in light of that, I probably don't know the Right as well as I should. At least the individual actors, especially the older ones. I know paleo and neo philosophy out the wazoo, however. I know where Neo-Conservatism comes from like the back of my hand. I know the history. I know Irving Kristol and AEI and the fact that Perle's still a Democrat for some reason.

Fourth...I don't know where in the hell you're getting that I said I look at things in a more "complex" way. I never said I was complex or whatever. It wasn't holier-than-thou. I said I have a different way of looking at political science other than the simple liberal-conservative spectrum and I only said it because the two of you were attacking me for being fucking simple-minded! I use the classic liberal-conservative spectrum but I've added alot on to it. I generally break things down into economic worldviews, social values, and foreign policy alone on a 4-sector 2×2. To totally construct the son of a bitch, you have to do it in 3 dimensions. The only reason I did this is because I'm a political science student and one of my professors asked me to put together some kind of system into which damn-near everyone can fit with no contradictions. So, I did. It works well.

Any other questions, concerns? Something I didn't address?

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 09:17 AM

Ben,

Can I use your crystal ball too? I want to check on the future stock market, not Iraq if we hadn't invaded... or does your seer abilities extend only to Bush's forign policy?

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 09:18 AM

Ben,

I never said that Iraq would eventually have a democratic government. I believe that they would evetually, with the non-violent assistance of the rest of the world, have a people determined government. If that's a religeous fundamentalist government, so be it. Who are we to say that's wrong.

I really don't see the war as solving anything other than stirring the pot. Maybe by throwing a country into chaos you'll get a better system once the chaos settles. It seems like a long shot though.

Posted by: Marc at May 13, 2004 09:18 AM

Political science student, eh? Explains quite a bit. Looks like you have it all figured out. But watch out for that Real World kid, it's a real bitch!

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 09:23 AM

And, Calibar, if it seems like I'm ignoring you it's because you're not worth the paying attention. I think EX may be a borderline troll. Sometimes, alot of times he goes off into troll mode. But you're completely not even dealing with what it was I was saying.

I was quoting personal experience mostly, talking about how no one in academia can talk about terrorism with saying "terrorism" and finding a way to blame America for it. And, yeah, winning the War on Terror by working solely at alleviating the world's poverty would be a BIG position of the Left. And it's pretty fucking dumb.

That's all I'm going to say. Quit bothering me.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 09:24 AM

Grant, I applaud your outstanding effort at true debate, I am only sorry that you have no worty adversaries.

Trying to map out politics is a great debate issue. What fits where, why, how... opinions, experiences and resources can make a debate like that productive.... But the group here is much more comfortable with the "Yes it tis, No it tisn't level of discussion". However, you do give me hope, that someday, when we put all the right wing people who want to destroy America in prison camps as "Dumbass Combatants" that debate will live on.

Tosk

PS - Since some people on here are too stupid to read between the lines or understand sarcasm and hyperbole when it hits then in the 'nads, I will explain my post:

A - Good post Grant, it was well thought out, unlike Ex and his buddies.

B - I do not really want all of you right wing neo-conservatives to go to prison camps. I would really like you to chill out, get stoned and stop worrying about the world you want to make. However, since you happily throw anyone who doesn't support your side in the "Dangerous Enemy Within, Anti-American" slot, I decided to do the same. If you want me to stop posting sliilness, then make a fscking argument, support it and debate... until then I'll just mimic you.

C - PBFFFFT!

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 09:27 AM

What do you have against political science, EX?

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 09:29 AM

Nothing, it is a fine way to waste four years. The fact you take it serious is sad.

Hopefully you are getting laid a lot.

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 09:31 AM

Nothing, it is a fine way to waste four years. The fact you take it serious is sad.

Hey now, I'm a polysci minor. Keep it up and I may have to say something about your mother...

In all seriousness though, about 4/5 of the other kids in my political science classes are of of the "I have all the answers" cloth

Posted by: jrr at May 13, 2004 09:37 AM

They aren't nearly as redundant as I, however.

Preview is my friend, preview is my friend...

Posted by: jrr at May 13, 2004 09:38 AM

Yep, it is a waste of 4 years if that's all you take of it. You can't really go into the business or trade of political science, so the bachelors degree doesn't do much.

But I'm goin' to Grad School, my man. And I'm thoroughly enjoying myself right now because I'm studying what I enjoy learning about and am interested in. Politics is my passion, really. It's fun as hell to me.

And I do indeed get laid alot, thank you very much.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 09:39 AM

I was quoting personal experience mostly, talking about how no one in academia can talk about terrorism with saying "terrorism" and finding a way to blame America for it.

--you mean american foreign policy when you say 'america' of course. i haven't heard people in The Nation, for example, blaming FDR or Martin Luther King's visions of America for 911. I have heard solid criticisms of how aspects of US foreign policy increased the likelihood of a 911 occurring. Then again I've heard those from 'moderates' and even right wingers too, so nothing really unusual or treasonous in that.
-----------------------
And, yeah, winning the War on Terror by working solely at alleviating the world's poverty would be a BIG position of the Left. And it's pretty fucking dumb.

--who said anything about solely, i was just repeating the position of President Arroyo of the Philipines, which she said in the approving presence of George Bush on May 20, 2003.

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 09:41 AM

Hey EX, what did you study while at you were at college?

Posted by: sam at May 13, 2004 09:42 AM

have your read the Republic yet? The Politics? I know those are just hard right-wing propaganda. Or do you just stick with your Party Line textbooks?

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 09:42 AM

sam: beer bongs mostly

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 09:43 AM

Sam,

He went to Cabbage College, where they learn to not Think. Its great if you want to live a life always knowing you're right damn any reality to the contrary.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 09:45 AM

Ex,
Fair enough, what's your opinion on History students?

Posted by: sam at May 13, 2004 09:46 AM

"sam: beer bongs mostly"

HAhahahaha, you know Ex that was pretty good! (No sarcasm, real compliment)

Very funny.

:)

Toskie

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 09:46 AM

And about that whole "having all the answers" thing. I was like that my first year or year and a half or so. Then you really get into it and really start to get to know your professors. That's when you realize you don't know shit.

It's a humbling experience. Good for the soul, though. Alot of the upper-level stuff will kind of blow you away after a while, too.

Go and read Foucault's stuff about the "Panopticon". The book's called "Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison". Shit will mess with your head.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 09:47 AM

Damn Grant, I'm impressed, Foucault is some pretty heavy stuff!

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 09:48 AM

The Republic is great. Yeah, I've read it.

There's an entire class devoted to it at my school. Different interpretations. The Straussian point of view. Awesome stuff.

Surprised?

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 09:49 AM

Grant,
That "having all the answers" bit applies to the philosophy students too. I know a few who are alright, but most of them you just want to slam their heads into a wall after five minuites conversation.

Posted by: sam at May 13, 2004 09:50 AM

They always resort to violence after 5 minutes of something they're uncomfortable thinking about. Sorta like Mr. Bush.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 09:51 AM

Then you really get into it and really start to get to know your professors. That's when you realize you don't know shit.

Yeah, I got schooled pretty early when I tried to counter something a professor said, and was left to pull one of those "yeah, but...but...". Let's just say I was pretty sure I was right going into the discussion as well.

I think I do want to go into international relations somehow; right now I'm heading toward a BA in Economics and I despise it.

Posted by: jrr at May 13, 2004 09:53 AM

Sam-

I took a philosophy class as a gen ed a couple of semesters ago.

I vow to never take one again just for that reason.

Posted by: jrr at May 13, 2004 09:55 AM

sam: My opinion is similar to polysci, mostly a bunch of commies that can't get laid!

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 09:57 AM

I'm really more trying to hit on the uber-paranoid-Michael-Savage-style rhetoric and attitude and general worldview that alot of you guys go into all the time. I'm not overgeneralizing wide swaths of the Right. I'm just talking about you and a few others at this site. And, yeah, the analogy fits.

Well, I barely comment here and as far as I know you don't know me personally, so I'm amazed at how much you purport to know about my "worldview". Personally, I think Michael Savage is an idiot, a racist, and an anti-gay bigot, and I'm glad he got fired from his job. What's more, I don't know a single conservative who listened to him or defended him in any way. (Though his "books" do sell, so presumably someone's reading them). Anyway,
you're engaging in guilt-by-association by associating me with every single thing that Ex has ever said to you, using statements such as "you two", "you guys" etc., yet you claim you're not overgeneralizing. Aside from the "sanctimonious figger wagging" comment, which you've implicitly admitted was somewhat warranted, I've approached you in a respectful manner. You have not done the same, but have continued to generalize and over-simplify with this John Birch/Michale Savage crap. It's pretty much a personal insult, as far as I'm concerned to implicitly equate me with Savage, particularly without knowing me. (If I remember, immigration is one of the things that Savage is always railing against, and I"m very pro-immigration for one thing). So, your argument has consisted of guilt-by-association, ad hominem insults, and mostly been drawn from a misunderstanding of the history of American conservatism, which you admit you don't know enough about, and you have the nerve to attack the level of other people's rhetoric? Please. I take back what I said about you seeming like a nice guy.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at May 13, 2004 09:57 AM

Eric,

Lots of words, little content.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 09:58 AM

so grant, any examples of writers in The Nation or The Progressive or Monthly Review saying 911 was a good thing or wasn't an act of terrorism?
or is that just a product of paranoid fantasy?

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 09:59 AM

Actually Savage is pretty entertaining.

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 10:00 AM

Ex,
Whats with this idea that history majors are commies? Is this from personal experience or what?

Posted by: sam at May 13, 2004 10:00 AM

Grant, could you please clarify how Arroyo is a dumb left winger?

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 10:01 AM

"mostly a bunch of commies that can't get laid!"

Ex, you seem to have a fixation on getting laid... is there something you need to talk about? Have you been sleeping alone alot lately, or just not getting it anymore?

And its good that you can identify the Commies. If only we were a few decades back, maybe you could work for McCarthy.

You could combine both issues and just watch some Jenny McCarthy porn, you'll be fine.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 10:01 AM

I had a buddy in college who was a bleeding-red commie and a history major and couldn't get laid. It is interesting to watch his progression to a married guy with conservative views.

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 10:07 AM

I had a buddy in college who was a bleeding-red commie and a history major and couldn't get laid. It is interesting to watch his progression to a married guy with conservative views.

--I seem to remember your telling us you have a friend Vietnam Vet who was 'spat on' by hippies.
any other tall tales?

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 10:08 AM

Ex,
The whole not getting laid thing is actually a pretty accurate description of most history students where I am. But I dont think that there are any communists in the student body here. If there are they've been keeping pretty quiet about it.

Posted by: sam at May 13, 2004 10:12 AM

'I had a buddy in college who was a bleeding-red commie and a history major and couldn't get laid."

Yeah, women aren't into furry hats and red stars. (Don't most people bleed red or am I somehow confused here?)

It is interesting to watch his progression to a married guy with conservative views."

Yeah, drinking the Kool-Aid will do that to anyone. Sorry to hear about your friend. I hope he gets better.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 10:14 AM

Sam,

If they study history, philosophy or polsci, they're probably closet commies.

Its probably best to burn down their dorms.

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 10:16 AM

This blog needs an enema.

Posted by: Joker at May 13, 2004 10:17 AM

i found born again christian girls to be the most wild in bed actually. something about repression helps make for a wild time when they let go and decide they're not gonna wait till they're married.

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 10:17 AM

Hey, Eric, look man, I'm gonna apologize at this point. I think I'm confusing you with another Eric, maybe even two other Erics. I didn't realize this up until a few moments ago. There's alot of Erics around these parts.

I'm sorry if I'm coming off like a dick. I'm on no sleep and I'm pretty beyond stressed out about some personal issues in my life right now. I'm not acting like myself, here, and I'm sorry if I said some pretty stupid things to upset you. Just trust me when I say I'm really not at all myself right now.

If you think Michael Savage is an idiot, than I've got you all wrong and I apologize. Hope it's not too late to take back the take back.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 10:18 AM

http://www.juancole.com/2004_05_01_juancole_archive.html#108442400579177434

it should throw some cold water on the "When are the Arabs going to condemn the killing of Berg????" shrieking out there in Blogistan.

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 10:19 AM

Grant it looks like you've got the same level of confusion about Eric as you do about the Left in the US, what with your fantasies about the Left thinking 911 wasn't terrorism.

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 10:20 AM

Calibar, you should try Muslim women. When they shed that burkha and get down, man, you wouldn't believe.

Posted by: Joker at May 13, 2004 10:20 AM

i found born again christian girls to be the most wild in bed actually. something about repression helps make for a wild time when they let go and decide they're not gonna wait till they're married.

Sir, I salute you! Though I've not yet found a good christian girl who doesn't do everything but 'defile their marriage bed'. They usually do more on the first date than any of the pagan girls I;ve dated.

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 10:23 AM

you should try Muslim women.

--you think most Muslim women wear Burkas? wow, now that is an interesting perception.

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 10:25 AM

Grant:

'Tis cool. I understand. Things get heated in these little boxes, which is why I've been staying away mostly lately. I apologize to you and to everybody for whatever unprovoked dickishness I displayed. Should have resisted the temptation. The topic is just too heated. Get some sleep.

Cheers,
Eric

Posted by: Eric Deamer at May 13, 2004 10:25 AM

Joker,

I'll have to keep that in mind! Me and the missus need to find one or two of them.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 10:25 AM

Well, since everyone else is apologizing...

I'm not sorry for being an ass, its what I do when the mood strikes me (Eris needs her sacrifice). However, I'm sure that tomorrow I'll probably try actual discourse again.

Here's to a better tomorrow

Tosk

The Words of The Foolish and Words of the Wise, Are Not Far Apart in Discordian Eyes.

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 10:27 AM

And I apologise for The Nation Magazine stating in their editorial yesterday that Michael Berg deserved to die. That damned left media has no shame.

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 10:29 AM

Calibar, if you could get past the "left wing/right wing" paradigm you might actually be able to discuss these issues instead of regurgitating the latest talking points posted on AlterNet.

I see 148 comments and I know the brown stuff is flying even before I open the comments...

Posted by: Mark Poling at May 13, 2004 10:32 AM

Damnit Calibar, I was gonna send you an email and your address is wrong!

Just wanted to say I've had fun choppin cabbage with you today :)

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 10:33 AM

Calibar, if you could get past the "left wing/right wing" paradigm you might actually be able to discuss these issues instead of regurgitating the latest talking points posted on AlterNet.

---you really haven't been reading the comments carefully. the warhawks make silly claims about 'the left' and then I refute them. then they don't come up with any examples to justify their paranoid fantasies about what is going on on the left.

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 10:34 AM

Mark,

Its a political blog, of course the brown goo is flying, no matter how many comments.

Though we're always open to new specimens, thanks for tossing some in!

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 10:34 AM

I see 148 comments and I know the brown stuff is flying even before I open the comments...

Its a political blog, of course the brown goo is flying, no matter how many comments.

When are you two finally going to grow a pair and say what's REALLY flying around here;

Poo-poo

Posted by: jrr at May 13, 2004 10:43 AM

In partial response to my critics:

1. The history of "people determined" governments emerging from totalitarian states (in the absence of defeat in war by an outside power) is abysmal.

2. The only "people determined" government is one that can be fired by the people. A religious government run by the Mullahs (ie, Iran) cannot be fired & therefore is not "people determined."

Posted by: Ben at May 13, 2004 10:53 AM

jrr,

Well said!

;-)

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 10:53 AM

Ben,

If the people determine that they want a theocratric government... then yes, is is a people determined government... probably not a wisely determined government, but people determined nonetheless.

Hell, the Nazi party was determined by the people.

'It does not belong to man, who is walking, even to direct his own footsteps'

Of course, that applies to all of us, I think.

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 10:56 AM

What torques me about the brown stuff is I have to wade through so much of it to get to comments that I think are really thoughtful. Tosk, you sometimes irritate the hell out of me, but you always have a fresh perspective.

This my side/your side stuff wears me down. Socially, I'm about as conservative as Chapelle's left testicle. On domestic economics, I'm Libertarian. On foreign policy, I'm well to the "right" or Totten.

Real problems exist in the world that don't lend themselves to the "who's team is winning" approach to debate. I read (and write) to try to come to grips with some of these problems. Which side has the biggest weinerschnitzels get's in the way of that.

Rant off.

Posted by: Mark Poling at May 13, 2004 11:25 AM

. The history of "people determined" governments emerging from totalitarian states (in the absence of defeat in war by an outside power) is abysmal.

--you mean we should have nuked the USSR into liberal democracy? wow!

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 11:25 AM

Senator Inhofe is RIGT ON. And if you allow me the opportunity, I will explain why and save you all the self-flagellation and collective shame, which is getting ridiculous and embarrassing to watch by now.

We are a nation of Laws, not torturers.

Therefore, if I feel a collective anything, I feel a collective pride that we are a country of Laws, not Men. Or does being part of The Collective allow only for guilt and shame?

Scumbags are universally represented--not solely by Americans, nor Iraqis, nor French; therefore, our laws are the ONLY thing that makes our country different than those around us, even unique. Our LAWS, are uniquely our own, and they appear to be adequate to the task at hand. Therefore---Pride.

No self-flagellation going on around here.

Now, lest you misunderstand, I too felt outraged at the abuse those men suffered in that prison, and I'm glad justice will be done.

But Inhofe is right. You guys are getting ridiculous about this.

Posted by: David at May 13, 2004 11:26 AM

That should have been "well to the 'right' of Totten."

Posted by: Mark Poling at May 13, 2004 11:27 AM

Godwins Law violation #3. Nazis are more popular than in Indiana Jones movies.

C'mon I would LOVE another Vietnam reference. WHERE ARE YOU HIPPIES?

Posted by: Ex at May 13, 2004 11:28 AM

"Rape Photos", someone said? Turns out those were porno pictures lifted from websites in Pennsylvania and Hungary.

I mean, jeez, even a brain-dead Kennedy voter can tell that the uniforms and helmets shown in the photos aren't Armed Forces issue. Or am I giving Democrats base too much credit?

Of a piece with the faked photos of Brit prisoner abuse flacked by the tabloid Mirror.

Now wonder Rumsfeld is cancelling his subscriptions.

--furious

Posted by: furious at May 13, 2004 11:28 AM

I knew it! The whole thing never happened!! There never was any torture anywhere by our boys! They are clean!! Now the world will see we are truly christian and will be known by our LOVE!!!

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 11:33 AM

Furious,

It's a good point. We not only have no idea how much we can trust our government, and the media, but certianly we can't trust photos in this day and age. I wouldn't have been surprised to learn that the Abu pics had been forged (though I'm glad we fessed up honestly to those).

But, you know the Brits... alwyas trying to be like us.... ;-)

Mark,

I am irratating sometimes, I know... its on purpose. But, I'm glad you like my perspective. I don't really want to convience anyone of my side, as much as make them question their side ;-)

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 11:33 AM

C'mon I would LOVE another Vietnam reference. WHERE ARE YOU HIPPIES?

--hey, i'm waiting for another Jesus turns the cheek story about a vietnam vet who is spat at by a hippy and too afraid to fight back.

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 11:34 AM

The irony of a 'post-modern' age, the photo fakery that the US engages in for psyops can be done now by the antioccupation resistance.

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 11:35 AM

Ex.

Ummm, lemme think.

OK How about saying that what we really need is for Robin Williams to go Disk Jockey in Iraq for a few weeks.

Sorry thats the best Vietnam ref I could come up with on the spot.

(to the board in general)

Don't you just love it when Internet users make up 'laws' to prove their point "Oh! You said Nazi, you said Vietnam... obviously your side is wrong".

Silly people with no debating skills, oh well I hope their sex life is better... at least that something.

Arguing on the Internet is like being in the Special Olympics...

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 11:37 AM

Calibar,

Yep just like Jesus, KILL THE COMMIE GOOKS! KILL THE ISLAM-FACISTS!!!!!

Turn the other cheek when its convienent for stories and photo-ops... Praise Jesus!

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 11:38 AM

Michael Totten:

Kill this blog. Now. Please.

Posted by: Deuce at May 13, 2004 11:47 AM

"Kill this blog."

Violence is never the answer, Deuce.

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 11:48 AM

George W. Bush gave Iraq reconstruction contracts to his friends so that Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, big corporations, the Christian Coalition, and oil companies could conquer The United Nations.

Posted by: Informed & Educated unlike wingnuts at May 13, 2004 11:53 AM

I&EUW (which probably sounds like what you say when you step in a dropped Ice Cream Cone),

I like your post, have you ever considered a job in either the Bush White House or the Kerry campaign?

;-)

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 11:57 AM

Tosk -

You make an "equivalency" error when speaking of govts that are determined by the people. If one believes in any given human's birthright to certain inalienable freedoms, than any old govt that is "people determined" will not do. Only a govt that protects individual rights (free from any tyranny of a majority) and allows the people a reasonable opportunity to voice their opinions and peaceably address grievances will allow for the conditions necessary to eliminate the "root causes" that Calibar has identified. Theocratic govts do not allow this and would not solve the Islamic fundamentalist problem (see Iran).

Calibar - Having said the above, I do not think poverty is an adequate explanation of terrorism. Thus simply eradicating poverty, even if it could be done, would not solve the problem either. There are many countries that are impoverished but do not engage in terrorism, and Suadi Arabia, the main supporter of Islamic terrorism, is not poor by most standards. Again, even forgetting all that, if you really believe the main weapon in reducing terrorism is eradication of poverty, then how on earth do you propose to do that in places where the people are not free? Please explain the disconnect.

jrr - Econ is international relations. Wait and you'll see. Of course, I was an Econ major so I am biased.

Posted by: Obe at May 13, 2004 12:08 PM

Obe,

Nice post. I disagree however. I thinkt hat there is a large difference between a people-determined government (one which was determined by the people to be the government of choice) and a democracy (one ruled by the people).

There are possibly some nations of people who choose NOT to be a democratic nation. I may think that its a bad idea... but its their choice.

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 12:29 PM

Tosk - Okay, now we're getting somewhere. I agree that there is a big difference between a govt "chosen" by the people and a govt "ruled" by the people. This is the problem though as I see it: You grant legitimacy to undemocratic nations by saying "it is their choice". This is often the tyranny of the majority. If, in 1950's America, people went to the polls and voted on a referendum to kill all black people, and it passed, then you have no problem seeing that this is wrong, even though it was the "choice of the people". Not just that "I think it's wrong" or "you think it's wrong", it's just wrong. An absolute, if you will. Similarly and more specifically dealing with Islamic terrorism, when the people choose to implement a govt that oppresses and murders it's own people, it's wrong. Not just that "I think it's wrong" or "you think it's wrong", again, it's an absolute wrong. At this point an isolationist says that it becomes America's problem when this same govt threatens America in some manner (citizens, economic interests, territory, depending on how one chooses to define isolation). The classic liberal at this point says that no threat is necessary. The wrong should be righted if possible. In regards to terrorism, I say that the wrong must be righted in order create conditions that are no longer fertile breeding grounds for terrorism. Representative government is the only solution out there. If we must force this gift upon them to save both us and them, then I don't see how it can responsibly be avoided. Thoughts? Alternatives? Bueller?

Posted by: Obe at May 13, 2004 12:54 PM

Having said the above, I do not think poverty is an adequate explanation of terrorism. Thus simply eradicating poverty, even if it could be done, would not solve the problem either.

--hey, i was just relaying what people like president arroyo said to Bush and he didn't seem to object any too many. he didn't scream out "LEFTIST PINKO TERRORIST ISLAMOFASCIST!!!!!!!!!!" at her at least.

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 01:01 PM

Obe,

My concern is that a forced democracy, does not a democracy make. If the people do not support the democratic process, or elect extremist leaders then we're no better off excpet that we 'feel good' about making the world safe for democracy.

At any rate, we're talking about Iraq, a country that hasn't been tied to a terrorist act for quite a number of years. So unless we decide to force freedom on Iran, Saudi, Egypt, Syria, N Korea, , democracy in Iraq will likely have little impact on terrorism in the long run.

Then we must consider the people themselves. We've invaded their home, killed their families, and (apparently today) blown up one of their holy buildings. So if they are deomcratic, and they vote to send some terrorists over here and drive planes into buildings... will that make it ok?

The mind needs changed before the governmental change will hold. And you're dealing with a mindset thats older than the earliest democracies.

I hope they choose democracy, I hope they choose to abandon the past and the esclation of tit-for-tat which seems prevelant in the Mid-East, not only in Muslim countries by Isreal as well.

But, I'm not going to assume that democracy will fix anything.

Tosk

PS - Silly people who posted earlier... this is called a debate. He makes valid points, I make valid points we discuss those points. I don't think either of us have yet labeled the other left/right/commie/neo-con whatever.

Sit and learn children, one day you too can have a real conversation.

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 01:09 PM

Calibar - and nor was I screaming that at you. Your point?

You posted "we need the alleviation of global poverty and other socio-economic ills from which terrorism draws its strength." I tried to point out that the "poverty is a root cause of terrorism" line has some major flaws. Whether it's true or not, positing that Islam itself is a main cause of terrorism holds up better to logic. The terrorists are all Islamic, but they are not all poor. Of course, that should not be mentioned as it is quite politically incorrect.

Posted by: Obe at May 13, 2004 01:14 PM

Tosk - Iraq's complicity in the terror structure is a matter of degree, I believe. I don't think it's accurate to portray Iraq as not involved in terror. It seems pretty certain that Iraq was directly involved with the 93 WTC bombing, and it is accurate to say that they have financed and supported terrorism as a matter of state policy up until their collapse last spring, with the connection to the Palestinians being the most easily proven. Anyways, reasonable people can certainly disagree on the degree of involvement of Iraq in Islamic terror, but I think our involvement in Iraq goes far beyond any immediate benefits gleaned by shutting off funding and support, to the point where Iraq's degree of involvement in terror is a distinctly secondary contention. You say that unless we are prepared to forcibly democratize neighboring countries, then our effort in Iraq is in vain. I disagree and I think West Germany's role in the collapse of Communism is a good case study. A democracy there was imposed and flourished. It flourished to the point that the people in East Germany couldn't ignore the success. That success fomented the discord that was crucial in bringing down communism in Eastern Europe. Now they are all democratic to one degree or another. I think this potential in the Middle East is worth the risk of invading Iraq. So my argument is that if a successful democracy can be imposed in Iraq, the forcible democratization of the neighboring countries that all support terrorism to varying degrees will not be necessary. The people will "choose" democracy after seeing it's success on their doorstep, just as Eastern Europe has. And it will be the "right choice".

Posted by: Obe at May 13, 2004 01:43 PM

Obe,

I would correct your last statement to:

The terrorists we are currently dealing with are Muslim. There are other terrorists who are not. Independant terrorists here in our own country, the anarchists who are here and there, scattered throughout portions of Europe (think the bomb in Greece yesterday).

Terrorism, I don't think can be pinned down to a single cause. Extremisit Dogma, such as we see in many of the muslim factions is one, poverty is another, the current view by some that America is pro-Jewish/Anti-Muslim, the past actions of the US in the reigon, etc etc.

Fixing poverty isn't gonna end terrorism, destroying the Muslim faith (if thats even possible) won't do it either.

I don't know how we end terrorism, but it is a fools bet to place all the blame on any single cause. (Of course, I'm not saying you were blaming it all on one thing. You made it clear in your post that the religious zealotism is probably a more direct cause than poverty... which I agree with).

Tosk

PS - I know you all will hate to hear this, but I'll soon be leaving and won't be back online till tomorrow. Don't cry for me Blogentina, I'll be back tomorrow.

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 01:52 PM

Also - not to ignore your question about the people who are indeed suffering in Iraq right now - there is nothing that indicates a "successful democracy" would ever vote to send airplanes into our buildings. We dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan and they show no signs of voting to send airplanes into our buildings. In fact, I don't believe two democracies have ever waged war upon one another. That is what I am counting on. There is the peace we so desperately crave. Iraq was a target of opportunity.

Nothing guarantees a successful democracy in Iraq. But we must try. And if we have to keep troops in Iraq for 60 years (as we still do in Germany) then that is our generation's contribution to world progress. I have yet to see a better alternative.

Posted by: Obe at May 13, 2004 01:54 PM

Obe,

Apparently we posted at the same time, and I wanted to address you last post before I leave.

I think that is probably the most eloquent way that anyone has stated the theory that is being attempted right now. I'm not sure that it will work, since:

1) The Middle East is not anywhere near poor, unlike Eastern Europe. The blown economy had a heavy impact on the fall of the soviet bloc.

2) Most of the countries in the Soviet Union didn't choose to join. They were occupied countries.

3) There was not a single religious ideology that bound all the states together, nor even all the people in a single state.

These are pretty big variables, hoepfully they won't matter, but it is reasonable to consider how they will affect the situation.

Why can't more people converse like you?

Have a great evening!

Tosk

Goodnight

Posted by: Ratatosk at May 13, 2004 01:58 PM

Yes, those are all important differences, although I'd like to think that the totalitarian Marxist ideology once had as many "true believers" as Islamic extremism does today. Who knows? Anyways, I am happier with America driving the course of change than leaving the fate of these peoples in the hands of dictators and zealots.

Thanks for the interesting conversation

Posted by: Obe at May 13, 2004 02:10 PM

Yes, Michael, I'll echo Deuce...

I don't quite want you to kill this blog. I rather like what you have to say and think you're a pretty intelligent guy. You know that you and I are like two peas in a pod. But, please, do something. Blocking caliber would be nice for a start. I could just about give you a list from there.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 02:51 PM

Grant,
odd, you seem to resort to calling for people to be removed from the list for not agreeing with you. yet i find it odd, is it because when you are confronted with a counterargument that shows you have made stuff up about the left, it embarrasses you?

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 04:34 PM

The terrorists are all Islamic, but they are not all poor. Of course, that should not be mentioned as it is quite politically incorrect.

--not according to most reports on terrorism that i've read. but you are mistaken, what you write is very very PC [i.e. patriotically correct].

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 04:36 PM

Grant: Blocking caliber would be nice for a start.

I read most of this thread but not all of it. If Calibar committed a banning offense, let me know. So far I haven't seen it.

Right now I have three paying jobs. All of them are writing jobs and I work all of 'em from home. All my employers are readers of my blog. That's how they found me to hire me. No way am I killing this thing. Starting this up was the best professional decision I ever made, seriously.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 13, 2004 05:02 PM

MT,

Filling your blog with mindless agitprop isn't offensive enough? The comments section used to be excellent. Oh, well.

Posted by: Jim at May 13, 2004 05:15 PM

congrats on the job finds.

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 05:30 PM

Filling your blog with mindless agitprop isn't offensive enough?

--the definition of agitprop you're working with seems to be 'opinions I don't like or cannot refute'.

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 05:31 PM

Yeah...what Jim said.

And, no, Calibar, I don't think you need to go because you don't "agree with me". Alot of folks on here don't agree with me. And God knows I don't want you to go because you "embarass" me. You embarass only yourself. I think you need to go because you're a complete troll. I would say that your arguments suck, but you don't actually make any arguments to begin with so I can't. And your rebutals, if I can call them that, do nothing but take people out of context.

You're a joke, man. I've read alot of your posts now, for weeks and weeks on end, and I've yet to hear you actually say a single intelligent thing. And you're not the only one around here that I'd say that about. There's this kind of fringe wingnut cliche around here, lately. It's either the "all liberals hate America" mindset or the "all conservatives are fascists" one and I can't stand it. And I don't understand how this has happened to a guy like Totten who seems to me to be the very embodiment of common-sense Centrism. All the moderates have disappeared. Doesn't make any sense.

Quite frankly, you're probably the worst of the Left-fringe. If it were up to me, if this were my website, I'd purge your ass on stupidity alone. But that's just me. Michael's a better guy. You should be thankful.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at May 13, 2004 06:00 PM

Rather than polluting this blog with your moronic drivel, calibar, why don't you get your own blog? Most of us don't come here to read your opinions, we come here for Michael's. So please run along, or at least limit your reflexive comments to a few dozen a day.

Posted by: Richard Bennett at May 13, 2004 06:27 PM

Grant

I don't know the answer. But you're right, the discourse here has gone downhill, to the point where there's an awful lot of pointless jailhouse lawyering from people with fixed positions who cherrypick quotes and misrepresent and basically hijack the thread.

In bad faith.

Posted by: miklos rosza at May 13, 2004 06:34 PM

Congrats on the jobs. I didn't mean kill your blog. Just this particular steam of commentary which seems to have grown rather puerile. Sorry for the misunderstanding. Let a thousand blogs bloom. Like 'shrooms in those Skagit county pastures north of your Portland crib.

Posted by: Deuce at May 13, 2004 06:36 PM

Thread, thread, thread: thread I meant to say, not blog.

Posted by: Deuce at May 13, 2004 06:39 PM

And when calibar starts going on about how supposedly "hot" born-again evangelical Christian girls are in bed, what is he talking about, exactly? There have allegations that some Iraqi women were raped. When calibar says this about Christian girls, what does he mean? I don't get it. He obviously despises them, so is that what makes the association "hot" for him?

It's disgusting.

Now he'll attack seven or eight times.

Posted by: miklos rosza at May 13, 2004 06:50 PM

I would say that your arguments suck, but you don't actually make any arguments to begin with so I can't.

--really? you make generalizations about the left and I ask for examples from well known and read left wing magazines like The Nation, The Progressive, In These Times, or Monthly Review. You offer no examples to sustain your claims, which appear to me to be based on little other than your imagination or what you've heard from others who think like you.
----------------------------
And your rebutals, if I can call them that, do nothing but take people out of context.

--no, i've taken what you've said and directly refuted it, and I've done so without swearing at you, without name calling (ok, mussolini lobby is kinda hardball), without ethnic slurs, etc.
---------------------
It's either the "all liberals hate America" mindset or the "all conservatives are fascists" one and I can't stand it.

--i've not said either actually. though we do hear plenty of the former, and forget lefists, they're just outright evil, worse than ossama.
----------------------
This was the quote, directly, from you: "Let me make sense of this for you, Steve. As I said earlier, leftists always blame America and Rightists never do."

--well, let's see the proof. is it citing american foreign policy as an important contributor to where we are today or is it 'blaming america' 1) and 2) when you say blame america are you saying that in magazines like the Nation, In These Times, Monthly Review,...that the left blames Martin Luther King's ideas on where America should go in its foreign policy or the ideas of FDR say? Or George McGovern? Or do you mean criticising anything left of Zbigniew Brzenzki is 'hating America'. Please advise. And please tell me how I'm 'taking you out of context' in the above.
Also please tell me when Justin Raimando makes arguments against the war how he as a rightwinger is NOT blaming America, or for that matter the free traders at CATO, Hudson are not blaming America when they criticise American foreign policy.
--------------------------

You also stated: "Leftists have tried every which way since 9/11 to blame what happened on us. They empathized with the poverty and put themselves in their shoes and yada yada yada..."

--I would likewise ask for examples where leftists 'blame america' or they are blaming specific american policies. there is a difference, being a college student you should be able to distinguish the difference. Really, try to respond to such rebuttals with more than, "HEY MAN YOU"RE STUPID!!"..., if you really can respond to them with anything more substantive
than that.
-----------------------------

--

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 07:04 PM

And when calibar starts going on about how supposedly "hot" born-again evangelical Christian girls are in bed, what is he talking about, exactly?

--I was responding to Ex's hackneyed stereotypes of leftists not being able to find sex due to x,y,or z 'reason'. I just took the phony stereotype based on his presumably true story and used the same approach with a real life experience of my own. and there was nothing disgusting about what I said, it was all based on consensual experiences, and nothing I said intimated, even remotely, otherwise.

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 07:07 PM

" All the moderates have disappeared. Doesn't make any sense."-----
Actually it does in a way.These are NOT moderate times,and moderate (ie.compromise) solutions are not a viable option.Therefore it becomes increasingly untenable to hold onto opinions that are not doctrinaire in some way or another.Regrettable, but unavoidable.I used to pride myself on always being objective and 'fair'.Now faced with the absolute EVIL of the Islamofascists,being 'fair' is not a laudible trait.WINNING is a laudible trait.It happens to be them or us and I much prefer it to be them .Couldn't really care less about "moderation".

Posted by: doug F at May 13, 2004 07:34 PM

One thing I see no one talking about is what happens in NORMAL prisons across America. Rape, sodomy, go on all the time.

Shouldn't we be outraged at that as well?

BTW, I've totally lost respect for Michael Totten. I certainly won't be coming here anymore. He hasn't even mentioned the Nick Berg story. We've already spent weeks already on the Iraqi prison. What more is there is to say that hasn't been said?

In the last couple of weeks, Totten has called Rush Limbaugh an 'asshole', yet didn't check to see the context he was talking about (mark of a bad journalist and writer). Then he calls the Oklahoma Senator not representing the conscience of America. Well, no one person exactly can represent such 'conscience', but Totten's comment boxes ought to tell him that much much more people think like the Oklahamo Senator than he thinks.

Posted by: Jonathan at May 13, 2004 08:05 PM

You can divide all people up in these ways:

1) Those that want to be comfortable
2) Those that want to be right
3) Those that want to win
4) Those that want to be liked

1 will support the war only if it goes well. If things get tough, then they want to 'get out'.

2 is obsessed with righteousness. Those that fall in 2 will not get over the Iraq prison scandal because they are so obsessed with America being 'right' rather than winning.

3 are the people who want to win the fight. As bad as the Iraq prison scandal is, it is nothing compared to the mentality that slaughtered Berg. Evil must be confronted and destroyed.

And 4 are those who want France and Germany to all like us.

Totten has gone wacko on us because he falls into category number 2. Totten was never interested in WINNING the terror war, he is only interested in being RIGHT about it. His obsession over the Iraq prison confirms this.

Michael, I am glad the military is focused more on winning than on being right. Else everyone in the military would start blogs and spew 'brilliant commentary', and be swallowed up in a sea of neurotic antigones.

Posted by: Jonathan at May 13, 2004 08:13 PM

Jonathan: I certainly won't be coming here anymore. He hasn't even mentioned the Nick Berg story.

Ah, yes. Here we go. Getting damned again for what I didn't write about.

I actually did write about it, then decided not to publish the post because I wasn't happy with the way it turned out from a writer's perspective. That's my violation of Right Wing Political Correctness for the week.

See ya.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 13, 2004 08:14 PM

jonathan, are you blogging from najaf by any chance, you sound awfully excited about this adventure over there.

Posted by: calibar at May 13, 2004 08:46 PM

Grant,

The moral relativism of your argument turns my stomach.

There is nothing relativist in my argument. I am explictly stating that I am willing to commit a lesser evil in order to avert a greater evil.

You've subconsciously done exactly the same thing. You have supported a war KNOWING WITH CERTAINTY that innocent men, women and children will be disposessed, maimed and killed. The only possible explanation for your position is that you are willing to commit a lesser evil to avert a greater evil. Apparently, you haven't come to terms with this yet. Your outrage at my comments is triggered by this dissonance.

If what happened at Abu Ghraib would shorten the duration of this war, and therefore shorten the period during which we know with certainty that innocent men, women and children are being killed, then the only moral choice would be to support what happened at Abu Ghraib regardless of how repuslive these acts were. You need to come to terms with the harsh moral choices that have to be made during wars.

Posted by: HA at May 14, 2004 04:35 AM

Tokyo Michael Turner,

In a post that veers perilously close to a kind of sanity

How ironic that you begin your comment with talk of sanity and then take a flying leap into madness.

If anyone wonders why I think Turner is a wacko, but missed his May 13, 2004 05:45 comment on this lengthy thread, go back and read it.

Posted by: HA at May 14, 2004 04:46 AM

Al qaida must be desperate to behead Berg on video like that. They shot themselves in the foot, by diverting attention and outrage from the year old prison abuses at Abu Ghraib to the very current abuses of al qaida.

Posted by: Jim at May 14, 2004 11:49 AM

Markus,

HA -- Glad to see you admit at least the possibility that "we [could] become that which we are fighting." What are you doing to guard against that risk?

Admit? I've always felt that the line between civilization and barbarism is a thin one. We never know what will push us over the line. The video of Nick Berg getting his head hacked off to Arabic chants that Allah is great certainly brings us a step closer.

As for guarding against that risk, there is no need. When the war is over, moral superiors such as yourself will be there to pull me back from my primitive rage.

Posted by: HA at May 14, 2004 07:37 PM

Before you dismiss Inhofe as a right wing demagogue, you might remember that we Oklahomans, like New Yorkers, have suffered deaths from terrorism...This is a small state, so I suspect he had friends killed in that bombing.

Yes, it was domestic in origin, but there are rumors that a white supremist murderer who was executed in Arkansas the day of the Oklahoma city bombing predicted it to those around him. Now, if your child was in the daycare center that was bombed, would you have opposed embarassing him with Hanes-Her-way on his head to try to save your child?

I am against torture, and would treat prisoners nicely, with china plates and gormet meals...but many of these "prisoners" were presumed to know about weapons and hiding places, and such "torture" might have saved lives of other soldiers.

Posted by: Nancy Reyes at May 15, 2004 06:28 PM

I am against torture, and would treat prisoners nicely, with china plates and gormet meals...but many of these "prisoners" were presumed to know about weapons and hiding places, and such "torture" might have saved lives of other soldiers.

--this runs against all independent and military accounts of the situation on the ground, which includes major lack of qualified translators, heavy infiltration of the US and Iraqi forces, the estimated 70-90% of prisoners who were picked up in random raids based on bad intelligence who have no connection to the resistance,etc. etc. Maybe Rush Limbaugh didn't discuss those matters in his shows, but they are very well known and widespread. your belief that the prisoners at abu grhaib who were tortured were valuable intelligence sources is based on little that is tied to on the ground reality.

Posted by: calibar at May 16, 2004 05:56 PM
Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Pajamas Media BlogRoll Member



Testimonials

"I'm flattered such an excellent writer links to my stuff"
Johann Hari
Author of God Save the Queen?

"Terrific"
Andrew Sullivan
Author of Virtually Normal

"Brisk, bracing, sharp and thoughtful"
James Lileks
Author of The Gallery of Regrettable Food

"A hard-headed liberal who thinks and writes superbly"
Roger L. Simon
Author of Director's Cut

"Lively, vivid, and smart"
James Howard Kunstler
Author of The Geography of Nowhere


Contact Me

Send email to michaeltotten001 at gmail dot com


News Feeds




toysforiraq.gif



Link to Michael J. Totten with the logo button

totten_button.jpg


Tip Jar





Essays

Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

Looking the World in the Eye
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

In the Eigth Circle of Thieves
E.L. Doctorow, The Nation

Against Rationalization
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation

The Wall
Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic

Jihad Versus McWorld
Benjamin Barber, The Atlantic Monthly

The Sunshine Warrior
Bill Keller, The New York Times Magazine

Power and Weakness
Robert Kagan, Policy Review

The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn