Archive for July, 2004


Friday, July 23rd, 2004

While perusing a post at Rambling Rhodes (you might want to turn off images before pulling it up — he’s a wise ass), I got into a discussion with “Joshua” regarding Bush’s Iraq policy. Joshua argued that Bush purposefully acted to convince people that an attack from Iraq was imminent, and used that pretext to go to war there. This even after I quoted Bush’s infamous State of the Union speech, in which he pretty much said exactly the opposite. My final response in the discussion (slightly edited) bears posting:

[Joshua said:] The definition of the word ‘imminent’ is ‘existing in or inherent in’

Well there’s your problem!

Imminent: adj. 1) Likely to happen soon; about to occur. — World Book Dictionary

The statement that the danger is “growing” is not a statement that they’re going to hit us any minute now, which is what imminence would suggest. All those quotes you give actually seem to argue my side better than yours, as Bush keeps making statements that the danger is “real” and “growing” — which it was — and that we had to act before it became “imminent”.

There are a whole lot of people who argue that Global Warming is a danger. Right now, a danger. By your standard they are all liars because they know damned well that global warming is not going to kill us tomorrow, but decades or centuries from now.

Saddam directly supported terrorists, with both money and the means to train. According to the 9/11 commission he had direct ties with Al Qaeda (though not necessarily directly in planning the 9/11 attacks). Afghanistan was a cesspool of terrorist camps and training grounds. If you actively nurture anti-American terrorists and then those same terrorists attack America, you are at least partly culpable for that attack whether or not they were wearing your country’s uniform.

Terrorists are not a large cohesive force like an army. The only way to fight them en masse is to, in effect, “drain the swamp” — removing the opportunity for them to recruit, train, and plot. And that in part means convincing some countries to stop supporting them, and using “other means” to stop the ones who continue to do so.

[Joshua had argued that Saddam would not have actually attacked the USA with WMDs, because he knew that] Any country even tangentially associated with a WMD attack against the United States will be leveled.

You’re right. And they did it anyway. And now two countries that were associated with the terrorists who perpetrated the attacks have had their regimes levelled.

I’m not sure that your suggestion regarding Saddam’s reasoning is correct. Bin Laden pretty clearly thought that the US would tuck its tail between its legs and beg for mercy after the attacks. He was dead wrong — but that doesn’t change what was going through his head before the attacks. The last thing he expected was for us to roll into Afghanistan and take out the Taliban, as evidenced by the fact that right before 9/11 he spent beaucoup bucks building himself a mansion there, which he then never got to live in on account of having to run for his life. It has been argued that the reason Saddam defied the UN and the US right to the end was that he thought that his friends in France would be able to prevent a US attack. He was mistaken.

Of course you can never really know what Saddam was thinking. As for the question would Saddam Hussein have instigated that? I can only say: not directly.

PETA got in trouble for funding an environmental terrorist organisation. Their response was but we’re not funding the terrorism, we’re funding their other activities. The argument was quickly shot down, because obviously, whatever other money the environmental extremists don’t have to spend on their other activities, they can spend on their illegal activities. So to argue that Saddam did help Al Qaeda but had nothing to do with 9/11 is specious reasoning. He gave them funding; he gave them training grounds. He helped them directly, and thus helped whatever they were working on. He also knew, in rough terms, their intent: hurt America, as did everyone else in the world.

Quote of the Day

Tuesday, July 13th, 2004

From a comment by “Paul” on a post at Citizen Smash, in response to someone demanding to know what specific criteria Bush supporters have to be able to say that we’re “winning the war on terrorism”:

To me “winning” this war means that, on career day, nobody is in line at the booth for “Anti-American Terrorist”. Hopefully there won’t even be anyone willing to work the booth[…].

Well said.

J. Jonah Jameson is Alive and Well

Friday, July 9th, 2004

I went to see Spiderman 2 the other night. (Don’t worry if you haven’t seen it yet — there are only minor spoilers here, if any. They give more away in the movie trailer!) The first half of the movie sets up for Peter Parker to abandon his role as superhero. No matter how hard he tries, things go wrong — he can’t keep a job, his love life is in shambles (although, in a nice humorous touch, women are flirting with him throughout the movie), and everybody seems to hate Spiderman, no matter how much good he does.

Beyond the obvious supervillain (whom I liked far more than the first movie’s), Spidey’s nemesis is one J. Jonah Jameson — the editor of the Daily Bugle newspaper. Peter Parker makes a good amount of his money selling photos of Spiderman (himself) to Jameson, who throws them up on the front page with headlines decrying the “webbed menace”; poor Pete’s only reliable means of making money is to repeatedly (and proverbially) shoot himself in the ass.

So, I’m watching the movie, chuckling at the extremity at which poor Peter Parker can’t catch a break, when suddenly it all seems very familiar. No matter how much good Spiderman does, Jameson finds a way to distort it to attack him. At one point, after Spidey has tried… and failed… to prevent Doc Ock from robbing a bank, the next shot shows Peter sitting on his bed with a newspaper that reads “Spidey and Ock Rob Bank!” Doesn’t matter that Spidey and Ock were obviously fighting. Nobody ran off to interview the little old lady who’s life Spidey just saved. He’s the enemy and must be attacked any way possible.

So Peter abandons Spiderman, and soon thereafter, crime rises 75% (according to an onscreen headline). Jameson is horrified that he drove Spiderman away, and his chagrin vanishes with comic rapidity the instant he realizes that Spiderman is back — the instant his understanding might do his nemesis any good. Despite the relentless assault coming from the press, it seems that the people on the street actually seem to like our guy, and at one point he manages to change the opinion of a particular fearful citizen simply by being himself and doing what he does.

Certainly Hollywood didn’t intend to produce such a deadpan caricature of the relationship between the president and the media, but there it is — quite possibly the most politically honest thing to come out of the Left in years.

Subverting “Digital Brownshirts”

Friday, July 9th, 2004

There is an interesting post at Iraq The Model (Post: “We almost thought we were hallucinating!”) in which the Iraqi poster marvels at the fact that virtually every American news agency reported that Bremer left Iraq without so much as a speech, when in fact he did give a speech that moved many Iraqis deeply.

The most interesting thing about the post was the comments section, in which several people started joking about the speech in which Al Gore called online conservatives “digital brownshirts” — a.k.a. Nazi thugs. Soon the comments started turning to “Hey! Let’s make brown t-shirts!” Ideas bounced back and forth about what to print on it, etc., but the basic concept was quickly endorsed by several: they want to claim the term as their own and use it subversively, much the way the phrase “vast right wing conspiracy” started appearing on conservative bumperstickers a few years back.

With all due respect to their politics, I am adamantly against any attempts by conservative netizens to claim as their own the term “brownshirt”.

The “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy” is funny. It was something that, if it really existed, people would want to be a part of; so the joke became that the Conspiracy does exist, and we’re all members. Conservatives grabbed it and ran with it. But if some jackass calls you a Nazi, do you really want to say, in essence, “Yeah, I am a Nazi, So There”?

Please let’s not further contribute to the trivialization of the true horror of what the Nazis did. Don’t make it a joke. Don’t excuse Al Gore’s vile comment by going along with it. It’s a mistake in so many ways!

Update: (already???) And they’re off! is online. No I’m not linking.