November 21, 2005

Goldstein Excerpts Cheney's Latest Speech,

and comments on the Administration's rhetorical/informational offensive:

Clearly, the important administration arguments are beginning to coalesce: 1) Criticism of the war is not by itself unpatriotic 2) Similarly, answering anti-war critics is not challenging their patriotism 3) But opportunistic and cynical anti-war critics who are trying to walk back their own votes and level spurious charges at the Administration (they lied to take is into war) are themselves lying 4) These lies are hurting the country and the troops. 5) The burden of proof, in a post 911 world, was on Saddam Hussein to prove he’d disarmed; we could not wait for the threat to become imminent before acting 6) The cause the troops are fighting for is just and right 7) Iraq is moving toward freedom; and things on the ground are improving daily, regardless of what the MSM and prominent Dems would have us believe.

These points, taken together, form an easy, concise, and—most importantly—a factually correct counter-narrative to the Dem / MSM narrative that has preached confusion, failure, quagmire, American criminality (torture, WP), and the relentlessness of an insurgency whose battleground savvy and knowledge of the Arab world are thwarting the plans of our confused military leaders and civilian war commanders. Oh. But we LOVE THE TROOPS!

The text of the speech is here, at the White House blog (you know: the one that won't call itself a blog). I'm reminded, by the way, of Ronald Reagan's habit, when he was thwarted by Congress and the media, of going "over the heads" of the legislators and reporters by speaking directly to the American people. This Administration has finally begun to do exactly that.

Free advice to the White House Press Office: break it up a little, okay? Throw in some personal anecdotes, the occasional cartoon, recipes, and pictures of cats. And don't be afraid to start a fight with another blog: your traffic will soar.

Posted by Attila Girl at November 21, 2005 02:39 PM | TrackBack
Comments

The president was forced to backtrack on rhetoric because of the frustration coming from the majority about the polarizing natiure of previous comments coming from him, the vice president and Republicans (cowards!)

He is finding out that you can't get awayy with calling John McCain a North Vietnamese agent (which won him the Georgia primaries) or even spitting at the fact that Kerry road around in a small boat in very dangerous waters and ran towards enemy fire.

The slime game is failing.

It's nice you treat this as a victory, so happy you remain in your delusion, but I'll tell you something if you have to go around begging money from strangers you need a job.

Posted by: susan at November 21, 2005 03:20 PM


Hi, Susan. Thanks for the advice!

Do you have any citations re: "polarizing remarks" from Bush, Cheney et al? I'd also be really interested in your link (or a time/place) wherein the President called John McCain a "North Vietnamese" agent. And if he did, I'm wondering why it is that McCain is coming to his defense now by remarking that the assertion that the President lied over Iraq is itself a lie.

Stop by any time!

Posted by: Attila Girl at November 21, 2005 05:52 PM


I'd also be really interested in your link (or a time/place) wherein the President called John McCain a "North Vietnamese" agent.

Really, how soon they forget. Weyrich? Scaife? Those names ring any bells?

And before we start down the "but George Bush personally didn't say those things" path, that's not how the smear game is played anymore. Presidential candidates are a busy men; they have people to do those things for them. Anyone who thinks that smear campaigns like that are not coordinated with the candidate they benefit is, to put it mildly, being somewhat naive about modern politics.

As for why McCain does anything, I wonder that all the time, but I assume he has his reasons.

(torture, WP)

Very important not to talk about those things, I'd say.

Posted by: Christophe at November 21, 2005 07:37 PM


Posted by: Christophe at November 21, 2005 07:47 PM


Sorry for the double (now triple) post. Really, what is with these 500 errors, LMA?

Posted by: Christophe at November 21, 2005 07:48 PM


Christophe, your first link was from 1992. Did G.W. jump into a time machine to get someone to "smear" McCain eight years before they were vying for the nomination?

Second link: Newsmax. I don't read Newsmax, and I don't take anything seriously that is says. I mean, this appears to be an internecine squabble between veterans' groups.

I skimmed both documents, but didn't see "North Vietnamese agent" in either--though the Manchurian Candidate thing might have implied that. I mean, honest-to-gosh: you can find lots of kooky stuff out there if you go looking for it.

Torture: you're thinking of our opponents. We're only "abuse."

WP: So what?

Posted by: Attila Girl at November 21, 2005 10:15 PM


Hey, no skin off of my nose. That particular smear did surface in the 2000 campaign, though.

Anyway, back to the original point of your post.

I'm not surprised that the administration is trying to carefully ring-fence the terms of debate. But the administration does have a case to answer about its use of pre-war intelligence, and simply declaring that matter to be not part of the narrative is not a response.

For example: Dick Cheney, 16 March 2003:

And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.

Now, we now know that statement to be false. I will assume that Cheney had something on his desk that he relied upon to say that. Why did we think that? On what did we base these assessments? I would think that anyone interested in the competent execution of government would be interested in how we could get something so important so wrong.

we could not wait for the threat to become imminent before acting

Given that the war was sold precisely becuase the threat from Iraq was imminent, this is irrelevant. Post facto justifications for the war aren't the point; the question is, why did the administration make so many categorical statements about the threat posed by Iraq which were questionable at thet ime, and which have subsequently proven to be false?

Pace Mr Cheney, I think that is an essential thing to discover, since otherwise, one might think, well, that the administration lied. So, let's have that investigation, shall we?

Posted by: Christophe at November 22, 2005 04:31 AM


Now, we now know that statement to be false. I will assume that Cheney had something on his desk that he relied upon to say that.

So which is it? Either he had information that led him to believe that, or he didn't. Same information that led Senator Clinton to affirm that what she saw in the intelligence reports was consistent with what she saw as First Lady. You don't want an honest investigation. You want an excuse for shameless political grandstanding for partisan political gain at the expense of this country's security.

Given that the war was sold precisely becuase the threat from Iraq was imminent

Not true.

The stated reason in this regard was that it was unwise to wait until the threat is imminent. And it is. The denizens of the leftist fever swamps would rather wait for another 9/11 to act, and even then their committment to action would be in question.

Posted by: Desert Cat at November 22, 2005 07:47 AM


Either he had information that led him to believe that, or he didn't.

Any curiosity why the information might have been wrong? Any curiosity what happened in the chain of intelligence that caused us to be so misguided about what the reality on the ground is? Any curiosity why, for example, Curveball's "intelligence" had all of the Germany intelligence services' caveats stripped off of it by the time it was used?

You don't want an honest investigation. You want an excuse for shameless political grandstanding for partisan political gain at the expense of this country's security.

I'm curious why you say that. What I really want is to be able to believe the leaders of my country when they make unequivocal statements that result in us going to war. That does not seem like a particularly unpatriotic position.

Not true. The stated reason in this regard was that it was unwise to wait until the threat is imminent.

Really?

"Well, of course he is.” -- White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett responding to the question “is Saddam an imminent threat to U.S. interests, either in that part of the world or to Americans right here at home?”, 1/26/03
Posted by: Christophe at November 22, 2005 08:54 AM


Ooh, ooh! Can I bring up the topic of Iraq being an unnecessary diversion from the pursuit of the PROVEN threat that is Osama bin Laden, or are Bush's family friends still off limits?

Posted by: littlemrmahatma at November 22, 2005 09:01 AM


That does not seem like a particularly unpatriotic position.

I've noticed that leftists are particularly jumpy about the "lack of patriotism" charge, whether it is actually stated or not. Don't worry. That was just your shadow.

Really?

I am quite convinced of your capability to pluck quotes out of context, especially responses to leading questions that distort the overall prewar picture.

Any curiosity why the information might have been wrong? Any curiosity what happened in the chain of intelligence that caused us to be so misguided about what the reality on the ground is?

In the current political climate, frankly no. However if such an investigation were honestly pursued in a less politically charged atmosphere (and *after* the troops have completed their mission, by the way), it would need to account for all of the Iraqi intelligence dating back to GW I, including the Bubba years. It was Bubba's leadership, after all, that set the course of this country on regime change in Iraq.

"How quickly they forget", indeed!

Whatever I think of his domestic pecadillos and his incomptetence in dealing with the Islamist threat at home and abroad, Clinton got the basic facts about Iraq straight. Removing Saddam from power was a job that needed doing.

Back in the '70's, someone sued Kellogg for misleading advertising. The Cheerios commercial promised that if you ate Cheerios for breakfast, they'd "make you feel groovy, all morning long!" Whether that was true or not was a matter of perspective. I guess not everyone gets their groove on with cereal for breakfast. But pretty much everyone agrees that breakfast is important.

However if you think breakfast is an abomination, then you'd be likely to view Kellogg as a lying, manipulating, weaseling organization whose advertising is nothing more than Fascist Propaganda designed to gain filthy lucre at the expense of the well-being of America's schoolchildren.

Keep furiously shoving those molehills together. Maybe you'll have a mountain someday.

Posted by: Desert Cat at November 22, 2005 10:15 AM


In the current political climate, frankly no.

That's a shame.

Posted by: Christophe at November 22, 2005 10:33 AM


Perhaps. Those on the left have a whole lot of work to do to convince most people that all they want is an earnest and honest search for what went wrong in pre-war intelligence.

Not that I see any evidence of any work toward that goal, mind you.

Maybe it's not the goal?

Posted by: Desert Cat at November 22, 2005 12:11 PM


I'd post, but right now I'm leaning towards attacking people, not ideas. I understand that is prohibited.

Besides, Desert Cat has the situation well in hand... Go Kitty!

Posted by: Darrell at November 22, 2005 12:12 PM


Christophe:

I'm afraid I do place greater weight on statements made by the President in the State of the Union address, in which he carefully explained why the standard could no longer be an imminent threat--in fact, carefully explained why Iraq was not such a threat, and could not be allowed to become one--versus an offhand remark by a member of the White House press office who had clearly forgotten that the word "imminent" had a specific legal/military meaning.

And I got the article about Curveball, but--again--I don't see why the emphasis is being placed on one particular asset who wasn't even an asset of U.S. intelligence, but rather Germany. Perhaps if you had something that cast doubt on the British intel, we might be getting somewhere: after all, the Brits have stood by their report that was used to justify the infamous "16 words" ever since the President uttered them.

The onus was never upon us to have perfect intel: intelligence-gathering always has been, and always will be, an inexact science. The onus was upon Saddam to show that he had disposed of all the biological and chemical weapons we all knew he had at one point, and to explain the uranium issue.

Posted by: Attila Girl at November 22, 2005 12:35 PM


Mr. Mahatma:

When we stop looking for Osama, you can start calling Saddam a "diversion." Or maybe when another videotape surfaces: from what I hear, the man has had to radically alter his appearance in the hope of staying alive, and was driven deep underground. That's why he's strictly audio these days, IMHO.

It's not like we're just sitting on our hands in Afghanistan, Bud. Plenty is getting done there.

Posted by: Attila Girl at November 22, 2005 12:42 PM


Personally, I'm skeptical about the value of a public investigation into intelligence failures, because spooks, by definition, work in the shadows. If we turn the spotlight on them, we'll destroy as much as we clarify. Instead, I'd like the CIA to be reformed gradually--preferably from within.

And I'd love to see a cease-fire between the career spooks and the White House, but we'll see what happens there.

Another witch hunt against the administration? Hm. You can put me down as a "no."

But, Christophe, you say you'd like to believe the leaders of the country when they make "unequivocal statements." And your example of an "unequivocal statement" is Cheney saying "we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." Do you see the problem, here?

The administration acted on the concensus view of the analysts, and now the critics are cherry picking dissenting voices within our intelligence agencie, which essentially means leaders cannot act on intel unless it's unanimous: surely this is an unrealistic standard.


Posted by: Attila Girl at November 22, 2005 01:01 PM


Just stopped in to provide a little honesty against those dishonest enough to use that
Cheney quote from March, 2003.

What, you say?

Go back and read the entire interview. You will see that this one quote sticks out. the other 6 about nuclear matters mention reconstituted nuclear weapons programs.

In September, 2003, Russert played this clip for Cheney, and cheney said that he had misspoken, and meant reconstituted nuclear weapons programs.

The context backs him up. The question is how he or his staff failed to pick up this gaff and correct it long before Russert had to bring it up.

Incidentally, the SSCI report clearly shows that the reconstituting nuclear weapons programs statement, in exactly thse words, had been the CIA report for many months, and appears in the October 2002 NIE.

Although i don't know if Cheney actually had anything on his desk, but it was certainly something he heard quite often at the daily bridfings from the intelligence community.

There is the vanishingly small possibility that one misusing this quote is simply ignorant, of course. But to me, one interested enough in the subject matter of how we went to war with an administration using justifications that largely turned pout to be false would be interested enough to do the research, to read the reports, and to trqack down the quotes.

I would be shocked to find that Cristophe hasn't actually read that September 2003 Meet the Press, read Cheney's exp[lanation of the gaff. In fact, I would be willing to bet a small sum that Cristophe has actually used anotyher quote in that same MtP by Cheney to argue against him.

Picking one statement out of the March 2003 interview which is contradiction to all the others is technically called "cherrypicking."

Posted by: Averroes at November 22, 2005 05:11 PM


In the interests of accuracy and fairness, it was General Mills, not Kellogg. My bad.

Posted by: Desert Cat at November 22, 2005 05:41 PM


Deser Cat LIED! And people endured GROWLING TUMMIES until LUNCHTIME!

Posted by: Attila Girl at November 22, 2005 07:42 PM


Dog-pile noted. So, how about that North Korea, huh?

But that's not why I'm here.

Back in the '70's, someone sued [General Mills] for misleading advertising. The Cheerios commercial promised that if you ate Cheerios for breakfast, they'd "make you feel groovy, all morning long!" Whether that was true or not was a matter of perspective. I guess not everyone gets their groove on with cereal for breakfast. But pretty much everyone agrees that breakfast is important.

However if you think breakfast is an abomination, then you'd be likely to view [General Mills] as a lying, manipulating, weaseling organization whose advertising is nothing more than Fascist Propaganda designed to gain filthy lucre at the expense of the well-being of America's schoolchildren.

You know, I was going to let the whole thing go, but I am utterly and completely haunted by this analogy, as with a melody. (And I've made the approrpriate substitution, not that I would have noticed or cared either way.)

Perhaps it's just my tiny little left-wing brain, but I'm having a trouble with what exactly is being analogized here.

Hm. No, please, let me try.

So, General Mills is the adminstration, and Cheerios are the Iraq war... um, no, that's not right. Breakfast is the Iraq war, and Cheerios are intelligence, and grooviness... hm. I guess grooviness is "accuracy." "Suing" is "agitating against," that seems pretty rational.

I'm not 100% sure I get the causality connection, though. Intelligence can be an essential component of the Iraq War... Hm. Maybe. It reminds me a bit of those essayists who see in Wizard of Oz an extended metaphor for the debate over whether or not to move off of the gold standard.

And, I suppose, someone could not like breakfast because their tummy isn't awake at that hour.

However, I personally will agree 100% that Cheerios can be an important part of a balanced breakfast.

Posted by: Christophe at November 23, 2005 12:26 AM


Oooh, cool. Christophe has recommendations regarding North Korea. Lay 'em on us, Brother.

Posted by: Attila Girl at November 23, 2005 01:14 PM


Christophe has recommendations regarding North Korea.

Heavens, no. North Korea has already taken the advice, although they could be a bit more public about it. My advice is for Iran: You want to be safe from US invasion? Stop screwing around, and fire off a nuke already. Iraq's mistake was just pussy-footing around and chest-pounding instead of getting that uranium hexafloride flowing.

If you're in the market for some good nuclear technology, I hear Pakistan is the go-to country. And Pakistan is a vital ally of the US in the War of Terror, so what's America going to do to them, anyway? (Hint: Jack. We know this already.)

After all, as a nation, North Korea is a much, much bigger threat to the US than Iraq ever dreamed of being: They probably already have nukes (and those are real, meat-eating WMDs, not silly little chemical weapons), they have missiles, they are within easy missile range of vital US allies, and given enough time, they might even be able to fire a missile from their territory to ours (amazing how far west Alaska is, really). It's amazing what you can do when you don't bother feeding anyone besides the army.

And, unlike Saddam, the leadership is utterly and completely unpredictable, possibly even insane. Really, as an enemy, you couldn't do better. They even got the ultimate geological status as an Evil State: They got to be the villain in a Bond film. (Well, OK, it was the rogue son of a general, but c'mon, everyone knows what's what.)

And North Korea doesn't even have any oil, so who cares if we bomb the infrastructure into the ground?

And, yet, what do we do? Jaw-jaw. Contact Groups. Endless debates over who gets what nuclear reactor when. Christ, what's next, referring them to the Security Council? We have an insane nuclear armed power within missile range of Japan, and what do we do? Diplomacy.

I think the message to future rogue states is clear: Whatever you do, make sure you say that you just need nuclear energy for peaceful reasons, and it is nuts that anyone could possibly suspect that you need it for any other reason, and you are insulted by the very idea, right up until the first test detonation.

After that, write your own ticket.

Posted by: Christophe at November 23, 2005 02:14 PM


Okey-doke. Snark duly received. I tend to infer that you're leaning toward the position that we should/should have bomb(ed) N.K. back to the Stone Age.

But I wonder how China would have reacted.

It's one thing to take on a regime that's likely to simply crumble (Iraq). And another to initiate a bloodbath.

Thoughts?

Posted by: Attila Girl at November 23, 2005 06:01 PM


Snark duly received.

Hey, snark is the natural state of the blogosphere. I'm just trying to fit in.

At this point, I don't think that there is much we can do about North Korea, except keep on doing what we're doing. I don't particularly disagree with the direction this administration is taking. It may be the only direction we can take right now, but you can't always count on a government to do the logical thing, so credit where credit is due.

China's irritation with NK's randomness is balanced by the fact that it is a lever over the US. And I can't imagine that China would be thrilled by the idea of what they perceive as a US client state (South Korea) nestled up against their borders. Taiwan's bad enough from their perspective.

Now, to wander a bit farther out into the quicksand, the reality is that the US right now, and for a long as we need to maintain our current troop commitment in Iraq, is unable to take on another regime change project. The only way we could is to move back to a World War II-style military: conscription, rationing, war bonds. I simply don't see much public support for that kind of warfare.

The NK leadership may be insane, but they are not crazy. They know this, and are breathing a bit easier because of it. They know that even if China gave a green light to the US (and that's unlikely, but not impossible), the US can't do it right now.

It's not clear to me that NK is really a tougher nut than Iraq, setting aside the maybe yes, maybe no nukes. (There's a huge difference between setting off a test detonation and having one that is an effective battlefield weaopn, thank the lord.) Yes, NK has a nominally huge and well-equipped army, but so did Saddam in Gulf War I, and it didn't do him much good.

I think that continuing highly intrusive inspections in Iraq, while maintaining a high enough free resource level so that we could credibly threaten any particular rogue state, would have been a superior strategy to what we have now. (And, for the record, I thougth this before we launched the Iraq war.) Even given what we were presented with as possibilities, Saddam was simply not such a clear and present danger that removing him was a rational expenditure of the treasure and lives that have been required so far. Given what we know now about the actual state of his weaponry, it definitely was not worth it.

But, really, that's hardly important. We're stuck in Iraq for now, and whether or not I feel that the war was justified, I hope we are an honorable enough country to stick around to win the peace, too. As Powell said, we broke it, we bought it.

I just hope that we don't need the Army for anything for a while.

Posted by: Christophe at November 23, 2005 06:28 PM


In fact, I would be willing to bet a small sum that Cristophe has actually used anotyher quote in that same MtP by Cheney to argue against him.

What is it about my first name that has an "h" suppression field?

You're on! What's the bet?

Posted by: Christophe at November 23, 2005 06:34 PM


I, on the other hand, think North Korea would have been a very different kind of project. And I'm delighted to have Iraq, because 1) it gives us more independence from the Saudis, 2) it creates another experimental democracy in the region (other than whatsitsface, Little Satan), and 3) it creates a bit more traction with Iran.

All with (relatively speaking) no casualties.

Not to mention giving us a little street cred. I truly feel that the international arena is like a high-security prison: sooner or later, posturing gets you nowhere, and you have to prove yourself by fighting.

Icky but true.

Posted by: Attila Girl at November 23, 2005 06:46 PM


BTW, Christophe--I believe that the European spelling omits the "h."

Posted by: Attila Girl at November 23, 2005 06:48 PM


But, Christophe, you say you'd like to believe the leaders of the country when they make "unequivocal statements." And your example of an "unequivocal statement" is Cheney saying "we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." Do you see the problem, here?

(Sorry, should have combined these.)

Well, um, first of all, I didn't say "unequivocal," which seems fair to point out if we're going to have a turn on who did and didn't say "imminent." I did say "categorical," and I do believe that quote qualifies, per my dictionary. I don't see a strong difference between the statements being made if you include or exclude the "we believe" at the start of the sentence.

But we can also find quotes that are both unequivocal and categorical without too much trouble. This has always been one of my favorites, and I'm grateful for the chance to pull it out:

"We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories... we’ve so far discovered two. And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them." — George W. Bush, interview with Polish television, May 30, 2003.

Of course, those were the balloon trailers. Let's just say I don't find that kind of thing confidence-inspiring.

I'm also not quite sure I understand what it means to wait until the atmosphere in Washington is not "politically charged." Precisely when has the atmosphere in Washington not been "politically charged"?

I'm fine with an inquiry that includes such things as lobbing cruise missiles into Chinese embassies and Sudan pharmaceutical factories. I'm pretty curious about those, too.

Posted by: Christophe at November 23, 2005 06:58 PM


Ever get a feeling like there is a little bird on your head relentlessly pecking away at something?

Makes me want to find a mirror and check to see what is on the back of my shirt...

Posted by: Desert Cat at November 23, 2005 09:30 PM


Come on, now, play nice.

(Of course, I've stopped enforcing that rule quite so vigorously ever since the time I lost it over at Goldstein's digs:

http://www.proteinwisdom.com/index.php?/weblog/entry/she_is_woman_hear_her_roar_unless_yknow_she_feels_like_purring/

One doesn't want to be any more of a hypocrite than necessary, after all.)

Posted by: Attila Girl at November 23, 2005 10:12 PM


Fine.

How groovy do Cheerios need to make you feel before you realize you ought to eat breakfast? Is it really as important how the Cheerios are advertised as it is the fact they get the job done, which is giving you the energy to get your day started right?

(Yes it is!!! I was expecting LSD or THC, or DXM at LEAST!! All I got was frickin' BREAKFAST CEREAL!!!! Geez! I could have licked a toad and felt more groovy...)

Lordy, the things I have to spell OUT.

Now I have an appointment with a sunbeam somewhere...

Posted by: Desert Cat at November 24, 2005 07:36 AM


How groovy do Cheerios need to make you feel before you realize you ought to eat breakfast? Is it really as important how the Cheerios are advertised as it is the fact they get the job done, which is giving you the energy to get your day started right?

I demand an immediate Congressional hearing into these matters. The truth has been buried for too long by the Industrial-Cereal Axis.

As long as it doesn't become politicized and starts dragging hot cereals into the matter. In an era when fiber content is of vital national importance, grandstanding like that cannot be tolerated.

Ever get a feeling like there is a little bird on your head relentlessly pecking away at something?

That's me, your very own Budgie of Discourse, peeping out the things that need to be said, between turns on the swing. Although I'm really more of a rooster person, truth to be told.

Meanwhile, back to our lovely hostess (and feel better really soon, OK?):

Not to mention giving us a little street cred.

I think Afghanistan handled that.

All with (relatively speaking) no casualties.

I hate to quibble (which is, of course, a lie), but I don't think that 2,000 US dead counts as "no casualities," even relatively. Shall we go with "few"?

In any case, I think the question that needs to be considered is: How many casualities in Iraq would be too many? This is not a trick, snarky, or leading question. At some point, this won't have been worth it. That's the kind of question that we need to ask, unpleasant as it is: How many lives is our progress worth?

It's problem, in general, with the flypaper theory of Iraq: It implies some sort of ratio between overseas miliitary and domestic civilizan lives. I'm not saying it is bad or wrong or evil to make that calculation, but we do have to face the fact that we are trading off one set of lives for another.

What bothers me about the way this administration approaches, well, a lot of things, is with the public position that US lives and treasure are bottomless, and any amount of expediture can be absorbed. This is false, and I'm sure they know that. So, let's talk about it: What's this worth to us?

Posted by: Christophe at November 24, 2005 08:48 AM


Christophe:

1) Cut-and-paste from your earlier comment:

What I really want is to be able to believe the leaders of my country when they make unequivocal statements that result in us going to war.

You forgot what I do for a living (such as it is).

And if you exclude Cheney's "we believe," it's cheating. The whole point is that the Administration was expressing the consensus view of the intel community. No one claimed there was unanimity.

2) You and Desert Cat need to play nice: we're all on the same side WRT legalization of drugs, sex, and firearms (though I think I'm the only one around here who actually shoots guns).

Or, you know. Don't. Free country, at least theoretically. I can only send up occasional flares to my readers and hope for the best. Christians, Pagans, Jews, Athiests, pornographers and neo-Victorians—whatever we are, we'd all like to see civil liberties strengthened in this country. So let's remember to breathe.

3) Now you know what it feels like when I go to parties in L.A. and actually say what I think: it's reminiscent of the night I got my orange belt in jujitsu—people attacking left and right. Very bracing, like strong coffee.

4) I understand that zero is a funky number—and kinda-sorta retract it—but let's recall that 2,000 dead is 10 minutes of D-Day in WWII. The war in Iraq would have to go on for 100 years to rival Vietnam. And there were periods in Vietnam in which we were losing 5,000 guys a week.

In any case, I think the question that needs to be considered is: How many casualities in Iraq would be too many? This is not a trick, snarky, or leading question. At some point, this won't have been worth it. That's the kind of question that we need to ask, unpleasant as it is: How many lives is our progress worth?

If one counts the Iran-Iraq war, Saddam is responsible for a million deaths. Count that out, and it's still hundreds of thousands. I'm more than happy with the tradeoff at present, and cannot imagine Iraqi/American casualties increasing to the point that my view will alter.

It's a problem, in general, with the flypaper theory of Iraq: It implies some sort of ratio between overseas miliitary and domestic civilizan lives. I'm not saying it is bad or wrong or evil to make that calculation, but we do have to face the fact that we are trading off one set of lives for another.

That's what war is all about. I think the military is aware of this issue: they cover it at West Point, you know.

There are at least two reasons I'd rather have the two 19-year-olds in Fallujah at risk vs. the father taking his infant to Baby Gap at the mall in Des Moines: 1) the 19-year-olds signed up for this risk, and are aware of it, and 2) the 19-year-olds will shoot back. I want the people who are trying to kill us dead themselves. It's, you know. It's the only way to be sure.

What bothers me about the way this administration approaches, well, a lot of things, is with the public position that US lives and treasure are bottomless, and any amount of expediture can be absorbed. This is false, and I'm sure they know that. So, let's talk about it: What's this worth to us?

I'd be interested in seeing some backup on that limitlessness thing.

And I think the jihadis are closer to their limits than we are to ours.

Posted by: Attila Girl at November 24, 2005 11:23 PM


Aw c'mon ma! I wuz jus' givin' him a noogie!
A little levity is where the breathing happens.

What bothers me about the way this administration approaches, well, a lot of things, is with the public position that US lives and treasure are bottomless, and any amount of expediture can be absorbed. This is false, and I'm sure they know that. So, let's talk about it: What's this worth to us?

That sounds like government in general. Let's not stop at the Iraq war.

Posted by: Desert Cat at November 25, 2005 07:12 AM


And if you exclude Cheney's "we believe," it's cheating. The whole point is that the Administration was expressing the consensus view of the intel community. No one claimed there was unanimity.

I really must disagree. "We believe" isn't a qualifier in the way, say, "A consensus has emerged that" is. Saying that I believe something does not in any way qualify the strength of the assertion that I'm making. If I say "We believe that the sun sets in the east," I really cannot back down from it by saying that I didn't claim unanmity on that view.

If you haven't already, I commend Simon Blackburn's book Truth to your attention. It goes into this point (non-politically) in great detail.

And fair cop on "categorical" vs "unequivocal," but I'm bloody-minded enough to claim that either word was appropriate to his statement. "We believe" is simply not an equivocation.

You and Desert Cat need to play nice: we're all on the same side WRT legalization of drugs, sex, and firearms (though I think I'm the only one around here who actually shoots guns).

Aw, I thought our exchange was hilarious. I certainly was just trying to bat back the ball I was tossed. But playinng by the host(ess)' rules is a part of civilization, so I'll be good.

we'd all like to see civil liberties strengthened in this country

Yeah, I've been thinking a lot about that recently.

Now you know what it feels like when I go to parties in L.A. and actually say what I think: it's reminiscent of the night I got my orange belt in jujitsu—people attacking left and right. Very bracing, like strong coffee.

Love of my life, I've been posting on Usenet since 1988. A little bird is, oh, about the 45,398rd rudest thing I've been called. And I knew this wasn't Daily Kos when I started posting; I knew the risks.

I'd be interested in seeing some backup on that limitlessness thing.

Well, I do hope that no one, but no one, is holding up the Bush Administration as a model of fiscal restraint. And, well, I am second to no one in my feeling that the government has a strong role to play in helping in disasters and ameliorating poverty, but even I got a bit woozy when I heard Bush issue his famous "whatever it takes" line about Katrina.

And I think the jihadis are closer to their limits than we are to ours.

I hope that to be true.

Posted by: Christophe at November 25, 2005 11:41 AM


Ah. So in the Christophe dictionary, the word "belief" is synonymous with the word "fact." Interesting.

And I don't believe that you weren't on the web before 1988. It must have been '85 or '86, latest. At least, '88 sounds very late to me.

Fair enough on Bush's prodigality, but you did say "lives and treasure." Can you support the "lives" part of it?

Posted by: Attila Girl at November 25, 2005 12:50 PM


So in the Christophe dictionary, the word "belief" is synonymous with the word "fact."

Well, in the "Christophe dictionary" in the sense of "a dictionary that is in Christophe's possession," sure. Let's try my desk reference, the American Heritage dictionary, third edition:

belief n. 1. Trust or confidence. 2. A firmly held conviction or opinion. 3. Something believed or accepted as true, esp. a tenet or body of tenets.
fact n. 1. Information presented as true and accurate. 2. Something having real, demonstrable existence. 3. Something done, esp. a crime.

I don't see as much light between these as you appear to. In particular, defintion 3 of "belief" and definition 1 of "fact" seem so close as to be synonyms.

Of course, I think we're now in the kind of hairsplitting that gives internet discourse a bad name.

To try to make my position clear, what bothers me is not that the intelligence was wrong. I know that lots of people thought that Saddam had some kind of WMDs, and a lot more people (myself included) thought that he'd love to have them if he didn't.

I disagreed with the conclusion that the evidence, as presented, made an invasion of Iraq the most logical thing to do, but that's rather water under the bridge at this point.

What bothers me now, and you'll just have to take my word for it that I would feel this way of the president were a Republican, Democrat, or Martian, is that the intelligence was so far off. It bothers me because, at some point, a Republican, Democrat, or Martian president is going to have to go to the people and ask for another war, and intelligence failures this dramatic make that a very hard sell.

As far as whether or not this might have the potential to embarass the administration: Well, gosh, isn't holding the executive to account part of what the legislature is all about?

And, as an aside to Desert Cat, neither of us support the cut and run option. Regardless of my feelings about the original reasons for the war, we owe a debt beyond words to the Iraqi people, and I would be ashamed of being American if we didn't honor it.

I don't believe that you weren't on the web before 1988.

Well, to be pedantic, the web qua web didn't exist in 1988, but as I recall, that's when I got my first reliable "@" address and could waste time on these things.

Can you support the "lives" part of it?

Well, I don't have a fun quote of the form "We'll kill as many American soldiers as it takes," if that's what you mean. I would be very surprised if, however, the Bush administration had seriously considered that the number of American casualities would have even reached this point.

This war is certainly proving more costly than anyone thought. At some point, we'll need to make some tough decisions on how it is going to be paid for. That's not politics, just economics.

Posted by: Christophe at November 25, 2005 05:09 PM


What scientists tell me, I accept as fact. What my religion tells me, I believe, despite whatever doubts I harbor. The distinction I'm drawing is that a belief is unproven, and often unproveable.

It took us half a decade to establish democracy in Japan after World War II, by the way. And some people said at the time that it couldn't be done.

I would be very surprised if, however, the Bush administration had seriously considered that the number of American casualities would have even reached this point.

This war is certainly proving more costly than anyone thought.

Again: 2000 seems like a really small number to me, compared to the death toll in other wars we've fought.

I do think that in hindsight the economic price will not seem so great, but of course it depends on whether/when we have another terrorist attack here, and how much damage it causes.

1988, huh? Yeah: I meant ARPAnet. Pre-web, no graphics. Someday I'll regale my children with tales about what life was like before the web, and they'll be just as shocked as I was when my mother told me she grew up without television.

Posted by: Attila Girl at November 25, 2005 06:05 PM


It sometimes sets me back to recall that the Worldwide Web did not even exist a little more than eleven years ago. Before that, it was just BBS for me and, stretching back to the 70's and high school, a statewide computer timeshare system.

"Yep kids! I was alive on this earth Before Google. In fact I was born in the year 41 BG."

"Before Google? Wow gramps! Was that before or after the dinosaurs went extinct?"

Posted by: Desert Cat at November 25, 2005 06:37 PM


(oops, left off the last line)

"Well why don't you Google it and find out?"

Posted by: Desert Cat at November 26, 2005 09:14 AM


Google is the best; I drink their Kool-Aid every single day.

Posted by: Attila Girl at November 26, 2005 11:22 AM


Here's a little bit of outside reading for Christophe re: why Saddam had to go.

Posted by: Desert Cat at November 26, 2005 07:47 PM




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