Tuesday, May 01, 2007

We Spent $500 Billion Making the World a Worse Place

$500 billion. That's what the Iraq war will soon have cost us, according to McClatchy.

That's ten times more than Bush said it would cost, and, to put it in a little bit of perspective, enough to send half the kids in American high schools to college--including tuition, fees, room and board.

If we'd spent this money making the world a better place, or making the U.S. safer, that would be one thing. Jesus, at this point I'd settle for breaking even on one of those scores. But the fact of the matter is, we spent that money making the world a worse place, and making ourselves less safe.

(Cue conservatives saying "who's to say what would have happened otherwise?" Cue me sending them all to introductory critical thinking class...)

I've said this before, but here it is again: need a plan to use that money in a more constructive way?

Here's one: burn it.

Yep, if we'd have put it in a big pile and burned it we'd have used it more wisely. At least we wouldn't have, in effect, shot ourselves in the ass. Christ, using it on the Iraq war was just this side of handing it all over to OBL.

It's probably not yet possible to comprehend the enormity of this f*ck-up.


Blogger The Mystic said...

I think it's pretty unquestionably the worst thing America has ever done.

Like you said, if we had spent $500,000,000,000 making the world a better place, we'd be the heroes of the planet. Can you imagine how highly we would be regarded if we had taken all of this money and used it to support AIDS relief in Africa, Tsunami relief in Sri Lanka, Hurricane Katrina Relief, and finally, aid to the middle east countries so that maybe they'd stop thinking (and rightfully so given what we've done with our money) that we're horrible people?


Check that out. "Cost estimates vary -- Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz puts the total cost at more than $2 trillion"

This article lays out the following about the money spent on the Iraq war, predicting it at $1 Trillion.

I won't go about reiterating the article, but you should definitely read it. I do want to point this one out, though:

"the Treasury could have sent a check for more than $150 to every human being on earth. The lives of millions of children, who die from nothing more serious than measles, tetanus, respiratory infections and diarrhea, could be saved, since these illnesses can be prevented by $2 vaccines, $1 worth of antibiotics, or a 10-cent dose of oral rehydration salts as well as the main but still very far from prohibitive cost of people to administer the programs"

Bush is simply the worst president in history. He has personally squandered more resources than anyone else in human history - not necessarily that he had to try harder to do it, but that he had that power, and did it.

It's so bad, that it's too surreal to truly grasp. If everyone really understood how bad it was, he'd be impeached instantly.

10:02 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Oh, it's always about the money with you dialectical materialists. And talking about Bush or Iraq being the worst or biggest anything in history, that only proves you know zip about history. (No offense, Mr. Mystic. You're just one echo of many.) Things have often been far worse, under such luminaries as Lincoln, FDR and Truman.

Funny thing is, altho Iran-Contra is ballyhooed as the Reagan administration's Waterloo, it was pretty small potatoes. His administration's biggest f*ck-up, born not of malfeasance but incompetence and carelessness, and which it totally got away with and virtually nobody ever mentions, was the S&L debacle.

It cost the federal government, if memory serves, $250 billion, and that would be even more in today's dollars.

The other funny thing here is that Bush/Rumsfeld were often accused, and probably accurately, that they were trying to fight the Iraq war "on the cheap."

Well, you get what you pay for.

1:38 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I'm a little unclear on your point here, Tom, I gotta say... Of course the S&L fiasco was a disaster...and many people tried to make that clear. But in the end, facts lost out to Reagan's avuncularity.

I don't think this is the worst thing we've ever done, Mystic, but that doesn't much matter. It's very, very bad.

As you note, if we'd have done just about anything else with that money we'd have been big damn heroes.

If we'd have used even half that money for humanitarian aid it would have turned world opinion so far in our favor (esp. after 9/11) that OBL would be in the deep excrement.

Instead we used it all to, in effect, fund al Qaeda.

Freaking brilliant.

10:01 AM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Exactly. If we had been hit by terrorist activity and really taken the route that Jesus advocates (since Bush is so born-again..) and turned the other cheek, and returned good for evil, we would be heroes and no one would ever sit by and watch us possibly get hit again. Everyone would have united and tried to figure out the terrorist threats and eradicate them.

ESPECIALLY if we provided aid to those countries in which terrorists existed.

And you're right - we used it to fund Al Qaida. What better recruiting event could they have possibly asked for?

However, Tom, I don't think that I know zip about history, and this guy agrees with me.


That's a pretty powerful historical argument for Bush being the worst ever.

Even if he's not the worst ever, as WS put it, it's still extremely bad, and my point about the money better going to humanitarian aid (which is what Bush really would've done if he were anything close to a Christian) still stands.

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Things have often been far worse, under such luminaries as Lincoln, FDR and Truman."

Arguably true, though maybe not. In either case, not the important point. Because however bad things were, the badness was not caused by them to anywhere even approaching the degree it has been caused by GWB.

1:08 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

The link I posted talks in depth about such a claim:

"Things have often been far worse, under such luminaries as Lincoln, FDR, and Truman."

And just to reinforce what Anonymous said:

I'd like to point out that, for someone saying I don't know anything about history, I do know that Lincoln was handed a horrible situation and governed spectacularly to bring the nation out of it. The same goes for FDR. To compare them and the situations they faced to Bush and the situation he has caused is to commit a huge, misguiding error.

I think that's pretty clear.

1:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In freaking 2002, a friend asked how many schools we could buy, staff, and endow in perpetuity in the Muslim world with the few tens of billions we were planning to spend in Iraq. My answer was between 10^5 and 10^6, more than enough to really change the world.

1:41 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Yeah, I wouldn't ever advocate "turning the other cheek" after something like 9/11...but if we'd have busted the *right* heads (i.e. the Taliban and al Qaeda) and then set about rebuilding Afghanistan and/or spreading some of that $$ around building schools in the ME or Africa or South America or Mexico...cripes, people would be signing up to fight al Qaeda FOR us.

What a monumental, world-class screw-up.

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bbbbut, Mr. Mystic, what the hell would Sean Wilentz know about history?

3:50 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Mr. Mystic, Sean Wilentz is a well-regarded historian; however, historians are not authorities on the present, as the retroscope is inoperative. Wilentz is also an enthusiastic supporter of the Democratic Party, so it's not surprising that you responded so favorably to what you wanted to hear.

I recently quoted Bernard Lewis, generally regarded as the west's leading authority on the history of Islam, and his grim view of the present world situation. He was pooh-poohed---don't listen to him.

Now there was some justification in that: his opinion should be considered, certainly (altho my correspondent was unwilling to do so), but being an authority on the past does not make him an authority on the present.

Wilentz' article itself appears in Rolling Stone and as such is not subject to any intellectual rigor. A rebuttal, particularly to his method (or lack of it) may be read here.

But it would be best if we made our own arguments; I could start a link war with my own historian who supports Bush, but what's the point? Your argument is that Bush and Iraq are the worst because you say so (and Sean Wilentz says so). This will not do.

My purpose, WS, was that perspective thing, which is entirely apropos when "worsts" are getting tossed around. Truman faced the Korean War (and sunk to 22% in the polls for his trouble) in a war that took 10 times as many American lives, in a country of far less strategic value than Iraq.

Now, the argument is made that we shouldn't have invaded Iraq. That may be true, but that is a judgment, and it is an error to attempt to raise opinions to the level of facts.

4:21 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Didn't say I was advocating it, WS, just said that that's what Jesus said, and Bush claims that he thinks quite highly of the guy.

Clearly another of his lies.

4:22 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

"Now, the argument is made that we shouldn't have invaded Iraq. That may be true, but that is a judgment, and it is an error to attempt to raise opinions to the level of facts."


4:23 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

(Extending the above post)

You say a lot of things like that (like when you said "So forgive me if I remain wary of your triumphalist materialism", or "Regardless, it's not about me. If you decide to judge me, which apparently you've decided to, I'm flawed, and therefore plead guilty to all charges."), and I just thought I'd take the opportunity to ask you to explain it. That statement makes little sense to me. What do you mean?

4:31 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

(Still Extending the Above Posts)

From what I can tell, your statement says:

1) The argument is made that we shouldn't have gone to war in Iraq.
2) That argument may be true.
3) Still, it is an "opinion" that should not be given the respect that a "fact" has.

But, if an argument results in a conclusion that is true, then is it not a fact?

What? Are you saying that true conclusions are not facts?

4:48 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

All my conclusions are true. However, it would be untoward of me to expect you to regard them as facts.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Yeah, I was going to quote the same passage as the Mystic, and add my own 'huh?'

Jeez Tom...it MAY be true that we shouldn't have invaded Iraq?

It MAY be true?????

What flipping variety of evidence exactly is it that you are waiting for?

I have to admit astonishment here.

"it is an error to attempt to raise opinions to the level of facts.??????

This sounds like some kind of peurile relativism.

Is the world an oblate spheroid? Or, were we to say 'yes,' would we be raising opinions to the level of facts?

Fer chrissake. I'm out of this thread.

6:14 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

If all of your conclusions are true, Tom, then they are facts. If they are facts. Facts are true propositions.

If it is true that we should not have gone to war with Iraq, then it is a fact that we should not have gone to war with Iraq.

The entire purpose of logic is to provide a method by which we can take propositions as premises and conclude that there are other true propositions if the premises are true. If you're saying that this process only results in an "opinion" which is somehow not equal to "facts", well, that might be the source of all the problems on this forum.

Critical Thinking 101?

6:57 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

(Editing previous post)

Gah, my first sentence should've been "If all of your conclusions are true, Tom, then they are facts. Facts are true propositions."

6:58 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

You were never in it after the first salvo, WS. It's my opinion that there have been many moments worse than the current situation, and named a few reasons why. Your agreement is not

Puerile relativism? You're the one advocating the democratization of truth. I'm disappointed. The majority of "reasonable" people have been wrong about a great many things over the years.

Yes, the world is an oblate spheroid. That's a fact. But human events are always open to inquiry. In fact, history is often rewritten after the first draft. Like with Harry Truman and the Korean War.

If you're saying that this process only results in an "opinion" which is somehow not equal to "facts", well, that might be the source of all the problems on this forum.

Quite so, Mr. Mystic. If one (me) disagrees, he's not disagreeing, he's denying facts. Agreeing to disagree is therefore not possible; there is only one right answer and all others are wrong.

This is not the spirit of inquiry.

Philosophy 101.

7:04 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

There's too many problems to even address here.

I give.

But in a closing note:

"Agreeing to disagree is therefore not possible; there is only one right answer and all others are wrong."

You are correct. There is one right answer, and there are many wrong answers. That's the status of the objective reality in which we live.

9:05 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

And the spirit of inquiry is NOT "Well maybe it's not true for you, but it's true for me! Let's agree to disagree!"

This spirit of inquiry is "There is one truth, and we are to set out to find it. Let us."

If that doesn't settle this, though, I'm moving on. I fear it's a lost cause.

9:20 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Aye, aye, and aye, Mr. Mystic, and cheers. (Drinking and philosophy really do mix, you know, per Plato's Symposium. I'd be happy to stand you one or six some time to test out that theory.)

Neither of us are relativists then, which is good. Truth exists.

But it may be that neither of us can discern the truth at this time. Perhaps we don't have the proper information; perhaps we're both inadequate to the task.

I only question your (and WS') claim to possess the truth, and exclusively at that. And in moments of humility, my own claim to the same. I try to keep an eye on that here and elsewhere---I was joking about the "all my conclusions are true." It was designed to be laughable on its face.

In 1951-52, with his approval rating at 22% and a war that had cost tens of thousands of American lives, and with no end in sight, it was obviously true that Harry Truman was the worst president in American history. In 2007, Truman appears on many historians' Top Ten lists.

Truth should not be so ephemeral.

When Lesley Stahl asked Madeleine Albright about the deaths of 500,000 innocent Iraqi women and children as a result of Clinton's sanctions/containment program, she replied that it was "worth it."

Well, it's hardly a fact that it was "worth it," and if it is, I deny it. It's her value judgment. (Maybe your values agree with that judgment.)

So when I say that Bush's course, this lousy war with its 3,000 American dead and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis (and no end in sight) is still better than Clinton's "containment," that's a value judgment, too.

And if somebody else says that there was a third way that would have worked, well, that might be true, too. But not remotely provable, as in, a fact.

As with Truman, the view of history 50 years from now may be quite different. (Note use of the word "may," as in "...the argument is made that we shouldn't have invaded Iraq. That may be true...")

Perhaps Iraq will somehow get its s**t together, become the most decent place for an Arab to live, and be a template for the rest of the Arabs.

Or maybe this $300 billion (likely to be far more) and 3000+ American lives (ditto) are already victorious in the greatest sense. me, I think al-Qaeda's and pan-Islamism's ascendency has already been turned back, in Iraq.

They've shown the Muslim world the monstrous consequences of implementing their nefarious plan, not a cool war against the infidel but the butchery of Muslim women and children. In the long term, I don't think a billion and a half Muslims are going to go for that.

Presented purely as opinion and ideally food for thought. The open-minded will hear me out and those who aren't will accuse me of denying the truth, which apparently they have and I don't.

But as one fellow put it, "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." (I think that's in Philosophy 101, but I'm only guessing here because I skipped class a lot.)

We all expect right-wingers to be cementheads, and the modern left refuses to listen to anybody who's not on their Approved List. I was just hoping to find a liberal or a philosopher kicking about here somewhere.


(As a matter of housekeeping, "triumphalist materialism" is the prevailing wisdom that the human condition can be reduced to metrics, making philosophy or "going meta" irrelevant. The path to ruin. We are not machines and we are not animals.

The "plead guilty" part means get off my back. I'm not Da Man, something for people to inarticulately rage against. I'm a human being, dammit. [Insert Nixon's "Checkers" speech here.]

As always, a pleasure, Mr. Mystic. Sorry I won't sit still for you, but it's better to hold the shotgun than be the duck, eh?)

10:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TVD, it's just the tip of the iceberg of what's wrong with your post, and your argument about Iraq overall, but most of the killing in Iraq is not being done by Al Qaeda.


"A picture of the composition of the insurgency, though in constant flux, has come into somewhat greater focus. London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies estimates roughly 1,000 foreign Islamic jihadists have joined the insurgency. And there is no doubt many of these have had a dramatic effect on perceptions of the insurgency through high-profile video-taped kidnappings and beheadings. However, American officials believe that the greatest obstacles to stability are the native insurgents that predominate in the Sunni triangle. Significantly, many secular Sunni leaders were being surpassed in influence by Sunni militants. This development mirrors the rise of militant Shia cleric and militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr vis-à-vis the more moderate Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani.

Still, the New York Times article also references military data suggesting roughly 80 percent of violent attacks in Iraq were simply criminal in nature –e.g., ransom kidnappings and hijacking convoys- and without political motivation. This figure lends credence to those who cited the CPA’s disbanding of the Iraqi army as an error likely to create a pool of unemployed and discontented young males ripe for absorption into the insurgency. Further, this statistic highlights the importance of reconstruction, and the revitalization of an economy in Iraq that can provide traditional employment opportunities. Of the remaining 20 percent of violent attacks –those with political motivation- four-fifths are believed attributable to native insurgents as opposed to foreigners."

But to the extent that AQ and its more recent franchises are responsible for Iraqi deaths, I'm astounded at how noble it was of George W. Bush to volunteer the Iraqi people as cannon fodder in this little experiment in *turning back Al Qaeda's and pan-Islamism's ascendancy*. So much for Iraq as a "humanitarian" war, huh?

And then there's the still-lingering sleight-of-hand you did on The Mystic's post in which you equate the US having been in worse circumstances under previous leaders with the CREATION of awful circumstances by the present one. Nice.

11:40 AM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Also, btw, Humans are animals.

2:38 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

I am not an animal. I am a human being.

And if 80% of the violence in iraq is routine criminality, that sort of puts the lie to "it's a civil war, let's get out of it." Interesting. Don't hear that 80% thing much---why is that, do you think?

As for Bush starting the war, there's some currency to that. But if the alternative is (and it was) Clinton's murderous sanctions, then war doesn't look so bad, altho doesn't have the elegance of Clinton making the Iraqis 100% of the cannon fodder.

3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, it puts the lie to your false dichotomy. Is there some immutable law of physics whereby there can't be criminality during a civil war? When this fact is reported creditably, let me know.

And I'm sure it's news to Bill Clinton that he single-handedly imposed sanctions. What's more, they represented the least bad of all the options, as is obvious now even to most of those who refused to see beforehand. Or to those who wittingly or unwittingly oversimplify the situation in 90s Iraq:

"By November, UNICEF was annoyed enough with the frequent misinterpretations to send out regular corrective press releases, saying things like: "The surveys were never intended to provide an absolute figure of how many children have died in Iraq as a result of sanctions." Rather, they "show that if the substantial reductions in child mortality in Iraq during the 1980s had continued through the 1990s -- in other words if there hadn't been two wars, if sanctions hadn't been introduced and if investment in social services had been maintained -- there would have been 500,000 fewer deaths of children under five.

Sanctions critics almost always leave out one other salient fact: The vast majority of the horror stats they quote apply to the period before March 1997, when the oil-for-food program delivered its first boatload of supplies (nearly six years after the U.N. first proposed the idea to a reluctant Iraqi government). In the past four years of oil-for-food, Iraq has exported around 3 billion barrels of oil, generating $40 billion in revenue, which has resulted in the delivery of $18 billion of humanitarian and oil-equipment supplies, with another $16 billion in the pipeline. (The rest is used to cover administrative costs and reparations to Kuwait.)

As the U.N. Office for the Iraqi Program stated in a September 28, 2001 report, "With the improved funding level for the program, the Government of Iraq is indeed in a position to address the nutritional and health concerns of the Iraqi people, particularly the nutritional status of the children." Even two years earlier, Richard Garfield noted in his survey that "the most severe embargo-related damages [have] already ended.

Anyone who tells you more children will perish in Iraq this month than Americans died on September 11 is cutting and pasting inflated mid-1990s statistics onto a country that has changed significantly since then. Knowingly or not, these critics are mangling the facts to prove a debatable point and in the process damaging their own cause."

...or make devious use of ellipsis when quoting certain former Secretaries of State:

"Still, the report might well have ended up in the dustbin of bad mathematics had a CESR fact-finding tour of Iraq not been filmed by Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes. In a May 12, 1996, report that later won her an Emmy and an Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Journalism Award, Stahl used CESR's faulty numbers and atomic-bomb imagery to confront Madeleine Albright, then the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. "We have heard that a half million children have died," Stahl said. "I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And -- and you know, is the price worth it?" Albright replied, "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it."

It was the non-denial heard 'round the world. In the hands of sanctions opponents and foreign policy critics, it was portrayed as a confession of fact, even though neither Albright nor the U.S. government has ever admitted to such a ghastly number (nor had anybody aside from CESR and Lesley Stahl ever suggested such a thing until May 1996). The 60 Minutes exchange is very familiar to readers of Arab newspapers, college dailies, and liberal journals of opinion. Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan mentioned it several times during their respective presidential campaigns.

After September 11, the anecdote received new life, as in this typically imaginative interpretation by Harper's Editor Lewis Lapham in the magazine's November issue: "When Madeleine Albright, then the American secretary of state [sic], was asked in an interview on 60 Minutes whether she had considered the resulting death of 500,000 Iraqi children (of malnutrition and disease), she said, 'We think the price is worth it.'"

Albright has been dogged by protesters at nearly all her campus appearances the past several years, and rightly so: It was a beastly thing to say, and she should have refuted the figures. Quietly, a month after the World Trade Center attack, she finally apologized for her infamous performance. "I shouldn't have said it," she said during a speech at the University of Southern California. "You can believe this or not, but my comments were taken out of context."



3:50 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Handy debate tricks, episode XXVII:

When you're wrong and obviously so, just make some vague gestures at the fallibility of human reason, the spotty history of expertise, the uncertainty of the future...

3:52 PM  
Blogger Scorpio said...

Oh, at least use it as fuel in a coal-fired plant. Regular burning is just a wast, comparatively speaking.


3:55 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Better, WS, then when someone disagrees with your opinion, waving them away as "denying the facts."

The premise here has been that all by himself, Bush created the war ex nihilo. (It's said that for liberals, history starts with the morning paper. I'm not big on liberals this, liberals that, but that's what's happening here.)

There was 20 years of history with Saddam, including one war, sanctions, Clinton bombing him, a 1998 resolution for regime change and of course

Madeleine Albright > November 10, 1999

"Hussein has chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies."

Joe Biden > August 4, 2002
"This is a guy who is an extreme danger to the world, and this is a guy who is in every way possible seeking weapons of mass destruction."

Chuck Schumer > October 10, 2002
"It is Hussein's vigorous pursuit of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, and his present and future potential support for terrorist acts and organizations that make him a danger to the people of the United States."

John Kerry > January 23, 2003
"Without question we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator leading an impressive regime. He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation. And now he's miscalculating America's response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction. His consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction."

Sandy Berger > February 18, 1998

"He'll use those weapons of mass destruction again as he has 10 times since 1983."

Senator Carl Levin > September 19, 2002

"We begin with a common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations, is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them."

Senator Hillary Clinton > October 10, 2002

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock. His missile delivery capability, his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists including Al-Qaeda members. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."

Robert Byrd > October 3, 2002

"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of '98. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons."

Al Gore > September 23, 2002

"Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter, and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power."

Joe Biden > August 4, 2002
"I think he has anthrax. I have not seen any evidence that he has smallpox, but you hear them say, Tim (Russert), is the last smallpox outbreak in the world was in Iraq; ergo, he may have a strain."

Hillary Clinton > October 10, 2002
"In the four years since the inspections, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability and his nuclear program."

Dick Gephardt > September 23, 2002
"(I have seen) a large body of intelligence information over a long time that he is working on and has weapons of mass destruction. Before 1991, he was close to a nuclear device. Now, you'll get a debate about whether it's one year away or five years away."

Russell Feingold > October 9, 2002
"With regard to Iraq, I agree Iraq presents a genuine threat, especially in the form of weapons of mass destruction: chemical, biological and potentially nuclear weapons. I agree that Saddam Hussein is exceptionally dangerous and brutal, if not uniquely so, as the president argues."

John Edwards > January 7, 2003
"Serving on the intelligence committee and seeing day after day, week after week, briefings on Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and his plans on using those weapons, he cannot be allowed to have nuclear weapons. It's just that simple. The whole world changes if Saddam ever has nuclear weapons."

John Kerry > January 31, 2003
"If you don't believe...Saddam Hussein is a threat with nuclear weapons, then you shouldn't vote for me."

Bill Nelson > September 14, 2002
"I believe he has chemical and biological weapons. I think he's trying to develop nuclear weapons, and the fact that he might use those is a considerable threat to us."

Al Gore > September 23, 2002
"We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."

Tom Daschle > February 11, 1998
"The (Clinton) administration has said, 'Look, we have exhausted virtually our diplomatic effort to get the Iraqis to comply with their own agreements and with international law. Given that, what other option is there but to force them to do so?' That's what they're saying. This is the key question. And the answer is we don't have another option. We have got to force them to comply, and we are doing so militarily."

Hillary Clinton > October 10, 2002
"It is clear, however, that if left unchecked Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capability to wage biological and chemical warfare and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."

Al Gore > December 16, 1998
"[I]f you allow someone like Saddam Hussein to get nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, chemical weapons, biological weapons, how many people is he going to kill with such weapons? He has already demonstrated a willingness to use such weapons..."

And the list goes on.

The other premise is that bad outcomes equal screwups. But that's another critical thinking question. Or a philosophical one.

4:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't speak for anyone else here, but I don't care what Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, Robert Byrd, the Dalai Lama, the Pope, Homer Simpson, Noam Chomsky or anyone else said about Saddam Hussein.

The fact of the matter is that George Bush DID start the war *ex nihilo*, not in some absurd God-creating-the-universe way, but in the important operative way of making the decision to use the authority (foolishly) granted him by Congress to attack a country which had not attacked us and posed no threat whatsoever to us.

You can stack as many strawmen as you want up against those facts, and all you have at the end of the day is a pile of straw.

4:36 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Biology 101 For TVD

Kingdom: Animalia (That means anything in this section is considered an animal)

Phylum: Chordata (That means you have a notochord at some point in your life)

Class: Mammalia (You're hairy, you drank yo momma's milk, your teeth rock, you gots small bones in your ear, you got a neocortex in yo brain, and you're warm blooded)

Order: Primates (Your uncle's a monkey)

Family: Hominidae (You're considered to be a great ape)

Genus: Homo (You're a human)

Species: Homo Sapiens (You are a human of a specific evolutionary type)

So yes, you are an animal. Does that make you sad? It shouldn't. Nor should it cause denial on your behalf. Animals are fantastic.

4:50 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Triumphalist materialism.

5:00 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...


Yeah, you're right. Science is so gay.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Hey, I dig science. I get Discover magazine and everything. But I also get First Things.

5:38 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Oh no, I fully understand. I can see how you dig science and yet you point out its falsehoods so obviously.

You should totally be writing papers and submitting them to be aired on CNN and stuff. People need to know that..all this time..science has been wrong. People aren't animals.

We're..plants? What are we? See, this is why you need to write these papers. I'm lost here.

5:43 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

It's like tryin' to tell a stranger 'bout-a rock'n'roll...

6:11 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

If you don't teach me, how will I learn?

6:20 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Oh, I've thrown enough seeds in your direction to choke a cockatoo. So, what the hell, here's one more. It was written for brats like us. It changed me, and if he can't teach you anything, I really don't know who else can.

7:41 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Yes, I have read The Abolition of Man. What aspect of it do you think denounces the fact that humans are animals?

8:20 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Almost 24 hours without a response from Tom...

Maybe he won't teach me his ways. I'll just have to sit here in contemplation and never know the truth that Tom knows. That makes me a Sad Panda. =(

8:05 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Sorry, mate. At some point speaking pidgin becomes exhausting. But I still loveya, man. Really.

11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But I still loveya, man.

Please keep quiet. TVD's having a Budweiser. Crocodile tears may follow.

11:34 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

So.. here's what we've got:

1) I claim humans are animals.
2) You claim they are not.
3) I assert that science classifies humans as animals.
4) You claim this is "triumphalist materialism".
5) I wonder wtf you mean.
6) You point me to CS Lewis' The Abolition of Man.
7) I say I have read this book and wonder what part of it explains why humans aren't animals.
8) You say it's becoming exhausting to speak.

So, after being questioned about your vague assertions twice..you are exhausted.

=( You tire too easily to teach! Why would you post if you don't really want to spread your knowledge?

11:39 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

WS is paid by the establishment to suffer fools gladly in hopes that they may someday become something else. Note that he doesn't do it here gratis.

Apparently you're under the impression that somebody owes you something, even the time of day.

Not so, Grasshopper, and not me either. You mistook good will for Onanism and I made a mistake by treating you like a human being and not an animal, so stop humping my leg.

Down, boy. Down.

You say you've read The Abolition of Man. You're either a liar saying you've read it, or an idiot if you really have because you never would have replied as you did.

You don't want to learn, you want to fight or hump my leg. Sorry, man, you gotta pay somebody for that. Or at least fetch their slippers and bark at the mailman.

1:00 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Next topic:

Bank: the land bounding a river or a financial insitution?

A philosoraptor debate.

10:36 AM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Does it make you feel better to insult people on the internet, Tom, or is it just a compulsion that you can't control?

Maybe you think people aren't animals because you've removed yourself from real interaction with them and now just act like as much of an arrogant ass as you can on the internet.

What you just said had no substance other than insult and was completely uncalled for. You, yourself, have said that you find name-calling "brutish" and that you won't respond to it. You have gotten extremely defensive and posted about how you "don't deserve this" even when someone just says you're wrong. You have said that "serious men don't sneer".

And yet, you constantly insult everyone on this forum. WS, me, Anonymous', and others.

Either you used to get your ass kicked ritualistically at school for acting this way, or the anonymity of the internet has really ruined you.

But, damn, man. You write like a child with a thesaurus who throws tantrums regularly and needs some disciplinary actions. Maybe you should see a psychologist.

Cleary, though, you don't want to talk about the things you say. You make ridiculous assertions that seemingly have no grounding in reality, and when I try to get you to explain what you say, invariably you ignore the points I ask about and just make more assertions that then would need to be questioned or you just roll out the insults.

Or, the "Arrogant Ignorance Bomb (AIB)" as I've come to know it as. If you want someone to stop questioning your weird-ass statements, just whip one out. It works.

So I won't question you anymore. You can just say whatever you want - clearly it's better off for everyone if you're just ignored.

10:55 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...


Take it to e-mail or something.

6:10 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

No no, there's clearly no point. He's just right and I'm just wrong. 'Fraid that's the end of it.

My bad. I'm just unedikatable.

6:16 PM  

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