Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Scott Thomas (Beauchamp) Saga Draws to a Close?
And Its Possible Effects on the War Debate
With Comments on Memogate

So I haven't mentioned anything about the Scott Thomas (Beauchamp) incident--in part because I couldn't tell what to make of his pieces in The New Republic, and in part because my TNR electronic password remains gimped up, and I'm too lazy to re-type stuff from the print edition. But mostly the former; I just couldn't get a fix on the plausibility of Thomas/Beauchamp's assertions.

But it seems to be on the verge of drawing to a close, and there's a good chance that the rightosphere is right, and he made a lot of it up. Here's something on it all at Ann Althouse.

There's a lot to be sad about here if Beauchamp was, in fact, lying. First, that he'd lie in such an important way about such important matters. Second, that TNR would, yet again, shoot itself in the ass. Third, that so many on the left seemed downright eager to believe the tales...

And fourth: that this is on course to, in a way, be a replay of the Dan Rather/AWOL memo affair.

The war was a mistake, as all but the most benighted and dogmatic now acknowledge. Even if a miracle happens and things start looking up, the decision to invade will remain one of the worst decisions in the history of American foreign policy. Good luck is not good policy.

But it looks as if the right wing will probably end up being right about this one, single set of extravagant claims--claims unrelated to questions about the wisdom of the war. This will confirm in the minds of many that the right was also right about all those things it was wrong about. And that's a very, very bad thing.

This is reminiscent of Memogate. It's indisputable that Bush's National Guard record stinks to high heaven. It's very, very likely that something untoward went on there. But the Rather memo was a hoax. This single clear case in which the right was right goes proxy, in the minds of many, for all the other, more substantive debates about Bush's Guard record. Having been right in one high-profile case, those eager to support him can tell themselves that they were right about the whole thing. Such a willingness to believe is the administration's greatest ally on the right.

If the right is right about Thomas/Beauchamp, they'll be crowing about it for months or years, and they'll blow the significance of the event far out of proportion. This will just add fuel to liberals' anger...and so on.

None of this is to blame the righties for what is, apparently, TNR's very stupid mistake.

[Addendum: For partial confirmation of the view above, check out the comments on the Althouse post--something I hadn't done when I wrote this post. Apparently the Beauchamp affair proves that every bad thing everyone ever said about liberals is true.]


Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

The New Republic was the reliable bastion of America's liberals, or center-left. Over the past year, I noticed it slipping on the (ever-growing) "not-approved" list among the netroots.

This Beauchamp business at its inception hit me as a shabby attempt to get relevant again. What concerned me, of course, is that it suggests that the center-left has largely disappeared.

I want my liberals back. Some of them were OK.

6:23 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, I agree that many liberals are slipping a little bit into la-la land...but it's pretty clear that they've been driven there by the massive, almost unbelievable awfulness of this administration and the dogmatic irrationality of many contemporary conservatives.

I do worry that the American liberal mind may be becoming a bit deranged...but liberals are, by comparison to conservatives, the sane ones.

If conservatives were really concerned about this problem, it'd be easy for them to fix it. The fist step: stop ignoring the terribleness of this administration, stop pretending everything is fine, stop engaging in blatant sophism in defense of the administration.

Liberals are currently rather like evolutionary biologists. Talk to EBs about evolution and they're often a little wacky about it...a little dogmatic. Why? Largely from years of trying to talk to creationists. Talk to enough kool-aid konsuming krackpots for long enough to no avail, put up with their sophistical dogmatism long enough, and you start getting a little wide-eyed yourself in response.

Honest mistakes are one thing...but determined, programmatic dogmatism will drive anybody a little loopy.

So, worrisome though certain trends in contemporary liberalism are, they're understandable...and, sadly, rather the least of our problems by comparison.

9:14 PM  
Blogger lovable liberal said...

I'm not saying that the TNR diary is true, and TNR has had lots of trouble over the years with fact-checking and PNAC-worthy neoconservatism, but you'll need a helluva lot better source to disprove it than freaking Ann Althouse quoting the Weekly Standard quoting an unnamed source and a military investigation that had significant incentives not to uncover any dismal realities that may have existed.

So, the most that Bushists can claim is that they have a little tiny piece of the truth that liberals like me didn't have first. They can't then "reason" that we don't have any of the truth, though that's what they're trying to do, as you point out, WS.

And, by the way, let's recall that the whole Stephen Glass embarrassment happened when Michael Kelly - one of theirs - was in charge of TNR. Mighty convenient how that has gone down the memory hole.

1:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Somehow I'm not impressed with the transparency of the "investigation":


3:44 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

The question is why TNR went with the piece in the first place. To help the war effort? No, to undermine it, and get back in the left's good graces. (Such as they are.)

We see stories from all over the world about UN forces raping children, and the like. But they're on page A94. We surely conclude nothing bad about the UN's efforts as a result of these.

WS, all I can say is that in the worst of times (and you believe these are them), civility and sanity are at an even greater premium, and losing them---indeed, casting them aside---may be understandable, but never justifiable.

Altho I appreciate your honesty.

As to the rest of your substance, I ran across this on the non-reality-based Instapundit. I might have put it more gently, but it represents my own frustrations with our problems with "truth" these days, and claims that only one side possesses it:

"The great lie from the anti-war side is that people like me don’t recognize the difficulty — or inherent tenuousness — of what it is we’ve been trying to accomplish in Iraq. But why else do these comfortable defeatists and inveterate contrarians think some of us have devoted so much time and energy to beating back their attempts to undermine the effort?"

Everything is not fine.

(As for the metaphor of creationism, with 35% of Democrats saying that Bush had some knowledge [or worse] of 9-11, we see there are plenty of cranks everywhere. To focus on them is to abandon all hope of sanity.)

3:52 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

It's true--the case is far from closed.


1. I DO agree that TNR's motives and methods are suspect. I also agree that there's a bad attitude about the war among many on the left. There's no argument from me on either score.


2. That Instapundit quote is the unmitigatedest bullshit I ever saw in my life. It'd be laughable if it were a LITTLE less preposterous. Instead, it's just a jaw-dropper.

The right--Instapundit included--was mindlessly pro-Bush and mindlessly pro-war long before liberals became so stridently anti-war. Since the right is basically pro-Bush at every turn, I'm simply not buying the claim that they're only doing it because liberals are anti-war. Certainly there's a feedback loop at work: the more (sometimes mindlessly) pro- one side gets, the more (sometimes mindlessly) anti- the other side gets...

But, as someone who was certifiably on the fence up until about a month and a half before the invasion, and as someone who's also quite willing to criticize liberals' attitude about the war...let me just say that conservatives started it.

Sounds juvenile, but that's the relevant point here, as we're asking the question:

Is the right currently crazy because they've been driven there by liberals, or are liberals currently crazy because they've been driven there by conservatives?

The answer is: the latter, not the former.

The right was more pro-war--faster and more stridently--than mainstream liberals were anti-war. The case for war was crap. In fact, as you might recall--though I was in favor of taking out Saddam, I ultimately was anti-invasion because the case was such a joke--and obvious fraud. When liberals pointed this out, they were called irrational and unpatriotic. etc., etc. Now we know they were right--and the very fact that many on the right STILL deny that is one of the few CLEAR signs we have here of who's currently crazier.

One other measure of who's right and who's wrong here: EVERYONE in the world thinks that American conservatives are wrong about this. Now, a wise man, when he finds that everyone thinks he's wrong, will at least recognize that he should back up and re-assess his reasons, and will hold them in a more tentative way. But there's no sign of this on the right.

As I've noted many times, dogmatism is the characteristic intellectual vice of conservatives, and it's on parade in spades in the current case.

And as for the creationism/9/11 point: If 35% of Dems actually think Bush knew about 9/11--and they almost certainly don't--then they're nuts. NUTS.

(Here, of course, I mean that they're nuts if they think Bush knew about the specific plan. Of course he'd been briefed but ignored it and went on vacation--but that's a different point.)

But that has nothing to do with the creationism point. It's just an analogy. Liberals, like evolutionary biologists, started out being more patient than they were obligated to be. But when, constantly confronted by irrationality, they were finally driven to nuttiness...well, it's rather hard to put all the blame on them.

But, given a few moments to reflect on it, I'm now able to laugh at the Instapundit claim.

"I may SEEM DOGMATIC...but it's just because I CARE too MUCH..."

Oh, that's rich...

6:57 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

---It is juvenile in that there's no excuse for letting oneself go crazy regardless of provocation. Civilization is built on that premise.

---I agree about the feedback loop. Anxiety is a function of feedback.

---To me, it's not about Bush and hasn't been for some time. Soon---and not soon enough for many people---he won't be president anymore, but Iraq will still be Iraq.

---The initial anti-war crowd correlates heavily with that 35%. Your call on that one. Of all the arguments against toppling Saddam, the only truly prescient one was that Iraqi society was so fractured and diseased that sectarianism/tribalism would make reestablishing a civil society impossible. That came in at perhaps #264, by no means at the head of the candlelight vigils. It's so anti-multi-culti for one, and no good leftist could ever bring herself to make such a paleoconservative argument.

---Arguments that include EVERYONE, especially in capital letters, have no sway with me, and as you know are a logical no-no. I don't hold any esteem whatsoever for the "international community," which is a synonym for "every man for himself and against the US." Let us recall that they also did nothing about Kosovo, the last "good war."

And for accuracy's sake, 30-odd countries lent at least token support for toppling Saddam, including every one of the decent nations on earth.

---I hold no brief for creationism; however, evolutionary biology lately makes a number of claims that are far from self-evident. I'm not referring here to the mechanism of evolution, but the bridge-too-far that creation is coincidence, and man is merely the sum of his mysteriously clever atoms. I thought your analogy a sound one, however, which is why I continued it. I place creationists and the aforementioned 35% at the fringes of what you and I might agree someday is the common ground of sanity.

(I place you on it, at least most of the time, altho I dunno if that sentiment is reciprocated. Still, with almost half our country in the "thoroughly suspect" column, we must make allowances for each other, you and I.

---I think the writer I cited acknowledged the difficulty and indeed uncertainty of achieving a positive outcome in Iraq. When I ran across it, your---in my view and his, inaccurate---representation of the conservative point of view being one of "everything is fine" came to mind, and so I passed on his reply.

Now, I think the argument "by staying, we only make things worse, for the Iraqi people and by creating more terrorists" is an entirely valid one, altho I disagree. The writer, and I, ask also that people entertain the notion that subverting the war effort gives hope to the bad guys that they'll outlast us is also a valid argument.

This position is held by what remains of the center-left. I combine that notion and my previous remarks here in a post today at my groupblog, and as always, thank you for the inspiration, WS. Rational comment is invited, and irrational comment even more so. The civility and sanity there gets boring sometimes.

8:43 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, we're agreed on some of this, but not all, of course.

I DO think it's largely about Bush.

Now, forget about our disagreement on the facts... But:

Imange that a liberal president--call him Schmush-- had done what liberals believe that Bush did--in essence stole an election, ignored warnings of a terrorist attack, let the perps get away, led us into a disastrous war on false pretenses, called all who tried to speak reason unpatriotic and terrorist sympathizers...lied about progress in the war...

Again, ignoring whether we're right about whether or not this is what actually happened...

Would the inevitable disagreement be about Schmush?

Answer: largely.

I, for example, I want to win in Iraq--desperately. So it's not "about" Iraq for me in the sense that I think you mean.

I think that any president who has done what I believe that Bush has done deserves censure at the least and probably impeachment.

I can't speak for many liberals--hell, I don't understand many liberals. But for me, at least, it's largely about Bush...in the sense that it's about principle, and about America, and about justice.

So, with regard to liberals like me, anyway, and with regard to your third point, I must disagree.

And that's just for starters...

9:37 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

As for the next point: it isn't true that the only good arg. against invasion was the fragmentation argument.

There were and are lots of good arguments. In fact, the best arguments were anti-invasion arguments...they were stronger than the pro-invasion arguments.

The arguments that finally swayed ME went like this:

The preponderance of the WMD evidence has been doctored. There's good reason to oppose a policy based on false premises. Even though there are some good reasons to take out Saddam, those reasons do not appear to be Bush's reasons--and the fact that he's using reasons that he doesn't believe in to persuade us to go to war means that there's something fishy afoot. And, finally, it is very, very important to take out OBL and al Qaeda and rebuild Afghanistan, and Iraq will just distract us from that.

Now, as I've said here many times, I actually think some of those arguments are weird and strikingly non-standard...but, as it turns out, I was right.

So, anyway, your fourth point is terribly mistaken.

10:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TVD, read Dean's statements about the sectrarian strife sure to follow an invasion (stump speech in 2004 campaign) PRIOR to invasion, and also his "things will not get better due to Saddam Hussein being captured."

Not a Deaniac, but the dude was right, had megaphone as a candidate, and his views were derided.

In short, his points were not #246 for him or his supporters. For those who dismissed him, they probably were.

I think it is rather clear who had their priorities and assesments correct, pro-war or anti-war.

12:57 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Saddam had already been toppled by the 2004 primaries. If Dean was a prophet at the time we toppled Saddam, he was nowhere near the head of the candlelight parades.

He seemed to be urging pulling the plug on the whole deal in spring 2004. There was no consensus for that, even among Democrats. "The scream" is not what did his candidacy in.

As WS opined, even Newt Gingrich is right 1/3600. That was Dean's 1/3600 moment, and I'm not even sure about that.

WS, the mighty (and mightily-derided) conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer coined "Bush Derangement Syndrome." You, from your credible vantage point, seem to confirm it indeed exists, and not just in application to yourself. I took it as a term of art, but Krauthammer has an M.D. from Harvard and a specialty in psychiatry. Perhaps we should have taken him more seriously.

I won't judge Bush's motivations, or Clinton's or Clinton44's or Obama's or Dean's. I'm not a psychiatrist, a priest, or a god. If you want to say the world was better off if we hadn't toppled Saddam, I'm sure a principled case can be made, with the proviso that history seldom reveals its alternatives, and will not in this instance.

If my 4th point was about the collapse of the center-left, so far no takers over at my groupblog, where I featured that idea. BTW, I pray I'm wrong about that. I was hoping some reasonable liberal would talk me down off that ledge instead of providing further evidence why I should jump.

1:35 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, Tom, I've gone down your points one-by-one, but I've gotta say I'm losing interest.

Is the center-left collapsing? Well, the center-right lost power in the GOP long ago. Actual data shows that the increase in partisanship over the last ten-or-so years has been caused, not by both parties drifting in their respective directions, but by Republicans going farther right and Dems staying put.

This is clear to the casual observer as well.

Krauthammer is a loon, and the fact that he's a psychiatrist gives "BDS" no credibility.

To quickly point out the obvious:

(Again, making points in a comparative way for convenience):

Anti-Clinton derangement was far worse than whatever anti-Bush derangement there might be.

1. Anti-Clinton derangement was...well...*derangement*. It was based almost entirely on fantasy. Murder, drug-running, etc.

2. It began before he was even in office. In fact, agitating for impeachment began before he was ever in office.

3. It generated many phony scandals (Troopergate, etc., etc.)

4. It ultimately resulted in a (successful) attempt to trick/trap him into screwing himself over.

5. Ken Star.

6. And--and this is important--Clinton was pretty much a centrist.

On the other hand, the "derangement" against Bush is quite different.

Most people who are furious at Bush didn't start that way. I thought the whole country should have gone on strike when he tried to steal the election...but everybody just went on like everything was fine. I can tell you--when he came into office, people weren't nearly mad *enough*. "BDS" didn't even become a phenomenon until after Bush had already begun pushing an extremely conservative agenda, lied about 9/11 and Iraq, begun calling all who pointed out his lies unpatriotic and pro-terrorist, and begun pushing to take us into an irrational and unjustified (oh, and soon-to-be disastrous) war.

It was the radical partisanship of the right that generated CDS--and it was the radical partisanship of the right (in the person of Bush) that has caused "BDS"...although CDS WAS a derangement, whereas BDS seems to be an over-reaction to a genuinely terrible president.

Your intentions point is garbled...not sure where it's supposed to be going...but you seem to be saying that we can't know or judge the intentions of others. THis is false. We do so ALL THE TIME, and humans who can't tell the intentions of others don't survive long. We have to tell where people intend to turn when we're driving, we have to be able to discern what messages people intend to convey to us when they speak, we have to be able to tell when someone intends to harm us... Skepticism about intentions, like all kinds of extreme skepticism in these contexts, is a refuge of scoundrels.

I've already said that Bush will ultimately be judged by actual consequences; that's just the way these things work. But that's not the way anyone SHOULD be judged. We ordinarily judge people by their intended actions, not by the actual consequences of their actions. (Even the law does this.)

One last important difference between liberals and conservatives over my lifetime: liberals have been willing to make foreign policy on the basis of truly moral considerations, whereas conservatives have only been willing to do what's good for us. Carter was derided and hated by conservatives for his willingness to do the right thing. Conservatives have only played the justice card when they thought there was something in it for us. Usually oil. So it strains credibility to ask us to believe that Bush was acting for humanitarian reasons in this case.

But I believe we've been over all this before.

I know you're a devoted defender of Bush...and I know you can type this stuff all day. But I don't see it really going anywhere...so I'm afraid I'll be checking out of this very very already overly-long exchange.

Two final points:

1. Evolutionary biologists HAVE gone a bit overboard in some ways...but, again, it's in response to creationist irrationality. Take the most notable case of this: when the NAS released a statement saying that science was necessarily naturalistic. False, but made in response to creationist wackiness. So, again, the analogy stands.

2. Really finally:
as for the "by staying we make it worse" position:

I don't buy it. I suspect that things will get worse if we leave. I also suspect that the reason people are now pushing to leave is basically because of right-wing dishonesty. Many liberals have come to realize that the right is going to defend Bush NO MATTER WHAT, and that the administration and its right-wing toadies are going to defend being in Iraq NO MATTER WHAT, and that means consistently lying about the conditions there, spinning the evidence and so forth. And people are just fed up.

My suspicion: give that the right will support staying no matter what, many have realized that a sane and nuanced debate is impossible. The right has guaranteed that the only two options are: (1) blindly stay with no end in sight and (2) just push to get the hell out.

The irrationality and intractability of the right have put us in this position. This is the way the discussion leading up the the war went. Those of us who tried to be perfectly reasonable about it soon found that we could hardly think over the right-wing war drums and accusations of unpatriotism. Under such conditions, it becomes tempting--and perhaps even rational--to take the irrationality of the war's supporters into account when trying to formulate a rational position.

So, with that I have to sign out of this thread. I can't keep rehashing the same old points over and over.

You may be right, Tom, and I may be wrong, but I can't tell it from any of this.

7:58 AM  
Blogger Jim Bales said...

WS wrote: "let me just say that conservatives started it.”

“Sounds juvenile, but that's the relevant point here, as we're asking the question"

Tom replied: "It is juvenile in that there's no excuse for letting oneself go crazy regardless of provocation. Civilization is built on that premise."

I whole-heartedly agree with Tom's statement above. However, it is incomplete.

Civilization is also built on the premise that the cost of provocation is great enough to discourage and inhibit provocation.

What is missing in discourse today is that cost -- a cost to the conservatives who started "it" (i.e., widespread death and destruction) by being "mindlessly pro-Bush and mindlessly pro-war long before liberals became so stridently anti-war."

Those who were mindlessly pro-Bush and mindlessly pro-war need to feel the cost of their mindlessness. Their opinions and influence need to be discounted in public discourse until they have acknowledged how wrong they were, expressed their contrition, and made what amends that they can. Civilization is based on this premise as well.

11:36 AM  
Blogger Jim Bales said...

WS, do you consider being "mindlessly pro-war" to be as bad as being "stridently anti-war"?

From the on-line Merriam Webster:
mindless: 1 a: marked by a lack of mind or consciousness {a mindless sleep} b (1): marked by or displaying no use of the powers of the intellect {mindless violence}

2: not mindful : heedless {mindless of the consequences}

In contrast to:
strident: characterized by harsh, insistent, and discordant sound {a strident voice}; also : commanding attention by a loud or obtrusive quality {strident slogans}

It seems to me that to abandon the powers of one's intellect in advocating an unnecessary war and to be heedless of its consequences is hideous and evil.

To attempt to be loud and intrusive, to be harsh, insistent, and discordant in voicing opposition to an unnecessary war, to try to force one's opposition to be heard despite attempts to marginalize one's dissent -- this strikes me as a moral obligation.

Your thoughts?

11:48 AM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

This comment thread has collapsed into the pit of incomprehensibility.

Lately, threads here have gotten that way. We're going to have to start a mandatory policy - every 15 posts, we need summaries of the issues at hand and the points made.

You know, to make it somewhat coherent.

Liike, Tom says x, WS disagrees with x, Tom cites y, WS shows y to be poo, Tom says z, etc.

Maybe that'd be helpful to ensure less threads ending up in the black hole that is 99% of internet debate.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Yeah, I think you're right that mindless is worse than strident...but I'm not sure whether my use of different terms there was really intentional...

Good idea, Mystic.

But I'm out of this particular thread.

It's just making me crazy.

3:34 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

The delegitimization process is usually complete by the 15th post, but even if we ignore my own gems---and "we" will ;-)---this is a treasure trove for the mindful reader.

Thank you.

4:24 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

This is germane, and not entirely bad.

5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Count me among those who aren't impressed with Ignatieff's feeble attempt at a mea culpa. As well as this guy:


Ignatieff belongs to a particular academic species, unnamed because to name it would be crude. Members of the species write high minded, but vague, articles footnoting Isaiah Berlin, Vaclav Havel, Stanley Cavell, George Stein, Lionel Trilling, an assortment of well known Central European novelists, contributors on cultural topics to Commentary, and modernist poets. The species occupies an evolutionary niche: its role is to support the views of the Weekly Standard, while making those views sound profound-- and to create a high minded avenue of retreat if those views are refuted by what actually happens. In retreat mode the species is apt to make cryptic references to Spengler, Schumpeter, Heidegger and Derrida.

9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would also ask Ignatieff whether this sounds like reasoning that originated in the out of touch ether of the ivory tower:


Just to read it is to lament again the yawning gap between the analytical, intellectual and practical capacities of the two candidates in 2000.

10:26 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Anonymous(es? Dunno whether this is two appearances of one Anon, or two different ones...)

Two killer comments.

The point about the "particular academic species" that thrives on vague references to people like Isaia Berlin, Spengler and Cavell...godDAMN, man, that hits a bull's eye that I hadn't even thought about before. It's a type I'd not classified, but as soon as you pointed this out, the lights went on.

It IS weird that they seem to be more associated with conservatives...or is that my imagination?

As for the latter comment and the Gore link...

Again, you nail it. The moral and intellectual differences between Bush and Gore are like yawning chasms.

It's enough to make a less manly man than myself weep openly.

11:21 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Though I DO agree that being able to admit that you're wrong is a necessary condition for being a good reasoner.

And the main failing of Bush an his chorus of yes-men is a completely inability to do so.

However, though there WERE some good reasons for wanting to invade Iraq, they weren't the administration's reasons. So that part of the Ignatieff piece seems incongruous with what's farther upthread.

11:29 PM  
Blogger Jim Bales said...


If your use of those particular adjectives in *not* intentional, then (I am curious) why do you think you used those adjectives?


11:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's what someone who worked on the GWB 2004 campaign had to say about BDS:

I'm not referring to what used to be called Bush Derangement Syndrome. That phrase suggested that to passionately dislike the president was to be somewhat unhinged. No one thinks that anymore. I received an email before the news conference from as rock-ribbed a Republican as you can find, a Georgia woman (middle-aged, entrepreneurial) who'd previously supported him. She said she'd had it. "I don't believe a word that comes out of his mouth." I was startled by her vehemence only because she is, as I said, rock-ribbed. Her email reminded me of another, one a friend received some months ago: "I took the W off my car today," it said on the subject line. It sounded like a country western song, like a great lament.


2:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thank you for the compliments, and FWIW, this to me sounds a lot more like a genuine mea culpa:


His pro-war rationale was infused with genuine liberal idealism, but he doesn't use the craven excuse of "the academy made me do it" to move the target from himself.

11:24 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Nice quote, DA.

Just after responding to you earlier, I weirdly DID recall having used the two different terms intentionally...and for just the reason you seem to suspect: that while the Dems are being strident, they're doing so for a reason...which is better than being mindless.

Pretty astute eye there, JimB.

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WS, thanks.

It would be interesting to listen in on a dialog between TVD and the woman from Georgia, in the same way that H.L. Mencken once said it would be interesting to see NYC under aerial attack.........

11:30 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

I would say to the woman that in a democracy, we are all citizen-rulers, and should verify independently anything politicians say.

If you take what they say at face value, then just fess up and admit you're a sheep.

When Russ Feingold went in and examined alll the intelligence and decided to vote "no," (not a big surprise), that was a principled dissent. Any politician who blames a single National Intelligence Estimate or maintains he was misled by the administration failed in his duty.

The riff that best characterizes my own support for toppling Saddam actually came from John Edwards, back in the day, that one had to look at Saddam's history and 20-year fascination with WMDs, both in procuring them and using them. It was only a matter of time.

The Hans Blix charade was not really key.

In future discussions as to where we (and I mean we as a nation) should go from here, I'm resolved to try not to mention Bush's name. It marks the end of any possible productive discussion, for reasons that should be obvious to us all by now.

5:28 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

BTW, I like this one a lot. "We" is creepy in all its forms.

6:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wasn't referring to the abstract concept of citizens making properly-informed comments on those who represent them, but her specific opinion on GWB vs. yours.

Thanks for surprising me, though.

I thought that, as in the past, you would tell the lady that this isn't the time to make judgments about GWB.

The riff that best characterizes my own support for toppling Saddam actually came from John Edwards, back in the day, that one had to look at Saddam's history and 20-year fascination with WMDs, both in procuring them and using them. It was only a matter of time.

Of course, let's not forget that in April 2001 Sec of State Powell said:

SECRETARY POWELL: I think it's important to point out that for the last 10 years, the policy that the United Nations, the United States has been following, has succeeded in keeping Iraq from rebuilding to the level that it was before. It's an army that's only one-third its original size. And even though they may be pursuing weapons of mass destruction of all kinds, it is not clear how successful they have been. So to some extent, I think we ought to declare this a success. We have kept him contained, kept him in his box.

As for your Edwards cite, you do realize that he based his vote on info the Administration provided based on the likes of an informant named "Curveball", etc. and not on information that was independent of Shrubco, which from the beginning was looking for an excuse to invade Iraq and topple Saddam, do you not?

11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, it isn't wise to cite something that is later repudiated by the person in question:

Updated: 6:30 a.m. PT Feb 28, 2007

NEW YORK - Democrat John Edwards said Tuesday that honesty and openness were essential qualities for a president, and that he was proud to acknowledge his 2002 vote authorizing the invasion of Iraq was a mistake

11:22 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Of course he's repudiated it. I thought you would appreciate the irony that he turned his back on his own good argument, which didn't depend on Curveball.

As for the box, it was collapsing.

1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, TVD, if you say that Edwards didn't pay any attention to the Administrations' lies in formulating his decision, then my admiration for him can only go up.

Let me put it this way:

Yes, TVD, there were Democrats who didn't know any better and thought that the malAdministration was being honest when they supplied the information that led them to vote for war.

"Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me."
# posted by The Dark Avenger : 7:23 PM

Standing by a decision that 'the decider' has repudiated is an interesting position, although the logic of it still eludes me.

Of course you don't have that problem when you support GWB..........

You still have yet to make a convincing case that the sanctions would've been removed without letting the inspectors in.

That would require the American veto to be withheld in the SC, political suicide for any inhabitant of the WH, unless the American people developed an inexplicable fondness for a dictator who attempted to an American President killed, most citizens I would wager(and myself) tend to look askance at that sort of thing, wouldn't be surprised if you were as well.

6:14 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

A convincing case, or a case convincing to you? I've given up on the latter; I write for the lurkers.

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All you have to do is falsify what I write here, and you'll convince more than the lurkers here.

and as to history, from the Wikipedia:

The Duelfer report, released on 30 September 2004, described in a key finding the impact of the Oil-for-Food Programme on Saddam's regime:

• The introduction of the Oil-For-Food Programme (OFF) in late 1996 was a key turning point for the Regime. OFF rescued Baghdad’s economy from a terminal decline created by sanctions. The Regime quickly came to see that OFF could be corrupted to acquire foreign exchange both to further undermine sanctions and to provide the means to enhance dual-use infrastructure and potential WMD-related development.[vol. I, p.1]

The final official version of the report cites only France, Russia and Canada (countries who were also strongly anti-war) as violators who paid kickbacks while at the same time, by order of attorneys at CIA, specifically censoring out companies from the US originally included by Duelfer. [12] However, the full version of the report, before the U.S. names were removed, was sent to congressional committees and some of it made publicly available. The U.S. companies implicated include Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Texaco Corp. and El Paso Corp. [13]


Staff from the Senate investigations committee presented documentary evidence that the Bush administration was made aware of illegal oil sales and kickbacks paid to the Saddam Hussein regime but could do nothing to stop them. The Senate report concludes the United States ended up with a majority of the oil lifted from Iraq after vendors paid illicit surcharges of 10 cents to 30 cents a barrel to Saddam, though U.S. firms directly purchased less than 1 percent of the crude. However, the two countries to profit most from the programme were allegedly France and Russia. These two countries were the strongest supporters of lifting UN-imposed sanctions against Iraq and were also against the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

Alleged US corporate complicity

It has also been alleged that the American government was aware of the scandal and chose to not prevent the smuggling because their allies Turkey and Jordan benefited from the majority of the smuggled oil.

US Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan) is quoted in an interview for the New York Times as saying, "There is no question that the bulk of the illicit oil revenues came from the open sale of Iraqi oil to Jordan and to Turkey, and that that was a way of going around the Oil-for-Food Programme [and that] we were fully aware of the bypass and looked the other way."[41]

I'll not play Ulysses with you henceforth, TVD, your continuous efforts to change the subject would drive a homing pigeon dizzy.

That some folks were making money off the Oil-for-food program demonstrates that the sanctions were about to be lifted because?

"Norman, please explain!"

12:25 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Falsify? It posters my position. In fact it was later discovered that the holes in the sanctions regime were even bigger than we thought---the corruption went all the way to the UN itself!

BTW, the Duelfer Report itself completely backs Edwards' original argument (and more), until he decided to recant.

He loved Big Kos.

1:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee, an editorial from the WSJ supporting your POV. How unexpected.

Here's an article written at about the same time on the same subject:

Duelfer's evidence on the corruption of the oil-for-food program is fairly staggering. But what's the proper inference—that the president of the United States needed to use all his diplomatic and economic leverage to ensure that the world did not look away, or that he needed to invade Iraq as soon as possible?

Cheney said yesterday that "the sanctions-regime was coming apart at the seams." But was it? In October 2003, when David Kay (Duelfer's predecessor) released an interim report on the search for Iraqi WMD, he said that Saddam had paid North Korea $10 million for Scud-type missiles, but that the North Koreans didn't deliver because the world was watching transactions with Iraq too closely. (True to form, though, Pyongyang kept the $10 million.) Duelfer's report says Saddam was exploiting loopholes to obtain conventional weapons, but nothing in the way of WMD was getting through.

And from the Wikipedia from Rationale for the Iraq War:

None of the WMD programs involved active production; they instead appeared to be targeted at retaining the expertise needed to resume work once sanctions were dropped.

Sorry, TVD, you've not falsified anything with your repeated assertions and references to the Oil-for-food scandal, except that it wasn't one of the reasons for going to war, even though as Sen Levin pointed out Shrubco knew about it and took no action anyway.

You still haven't made a logical counterargument about how the sanctions would've been lifted without the inspectors going in.

I won't hold my breath, FWIW.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

They didn't need to be lifted, they were broken.

I'm sorry that I can't find any "mainstream" synopses of the Duelfer Report that actually says what's in it that's exculpatory. At 1000+ pages, nobody's actually read it except sources like the WSJ, which is one more thing you refuse to consider.

I just can't find a column from "The Nation" that speaks to stuff like this.


they instead appeared to be targeted at retaining the expertise needed to resume work once sanctions were dropped.

was Edwards' argument, that it was only a matter of time, as the program was quiescent but ready to restart (and for some WMDS, a restart was a question of weeks, not years). I continue to find it compelling. It's a shame Edwards doesn't.

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, TVD, unless there was a radical change in the direction of this country, the sanctions could've only been lifted by the US not using its' veto in the SC, which would've been political suicide for any sitting American President.

Do you still find this compelling?

"We know where the WMD are..........."

or this?:

"We can't afford to have a smoking gun be a mushroom cloud."

As for the weeks from WMD production claim, that's a new one on me, and if you have a claim that doesn't originate from a wingnut blog, that would be interesting.

1:31 AM  

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