Sunday’s Iraq war column

Iraq_mosque_1

Iraq: Why we’re there,
why we must stay

By Brad Warthen
Editorial Page Editor
I WAS BRIEFLY taken aback when a colleague reminded me that we were coming up on the third anniversary of “the war.”
    I thought we passed the fourth one last September. Within days after 9/11, I turned a file drawer over to “War,” and started filling it with articles, maps, photos and other items relating to “Afghanistan,” “Arabs,” “Britain,” “Bush,” “Civil Liberties,” “Iraq,” “Islam,” “Mideast,” etc. In my e-mail files, there are 27 folders under “War.” “Iraq” is but one.
    Then I realized the other editor meant the Iraq campaign, dating from the 2003 invasion. I felt pretty thick. That was a huge milestone, worth addressing prominently. This war’s heaviest fighting,Antiwar2jpgpart and America’s greatest losses (since the one-day losses of 9/11), have been on that front. So last Sunday’s editorial took stock of where Iraq stands, three years on.
    Today, after seeing, hearing and reading an avalanche of commemorative rhetoric from all sides, I address it again.

Lever of change
    The war that began on 9/11/01 — that is, the long, asymmetrical war on the West that we Americans first fully recognized that day — was one we did not choose.
    Maybe that’s why we had neglected for so long to connect the dots between the USS Cole and Al-Qaida, Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden, bin Laden and our retreat from Somalia, Somalia and poverty, poverty and tyranny, oil and U.S. support for oppressive regimes, those regimes and radical Islam, Islamists and terror.
    The invasion of Iraq, as a critical element of this war, was a fight that we chose, as critics keepIraq_saddam saying — but only in a sense. Iraq was where we decided to insert the lever with which we would attempt to turn back half a century of Near East politics and policies.
    The fact that Iraq was the likeliest place to insert it was not our choice. It was Saddam Hussein’s. He invaded Kuwait, which caused us to lead a coalition to throw him out in 1991. He then violated, for 12 years, the terms established as the price of remaining in power. He shot at American aircraft. He defied the United Nations again in 2002, when he was told that his one chance to stay in power was full cooperation. (He also — although this is incidental to my point — was the one who paid bounties to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.)
    The United States — and Britain, Spain, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, Poland, Norway, Denmark (most of Europe, other than France and Germany) and about two dozen other countries — decided to take action.

About the WMD
    And yes, pretty much all of those nations, and the countries that refused to participate (publicly), Iraq_brit_1believed Saddam still had weapons of mass destruction. So did his own generals, who were counting on it. He did a wonderful impersonation of a man with something to hide, when all he was still hiding was the fact that they were gone.
    I never thought his WMD programs were the best reason to invade. I thought he had them, but I doubted they were an immediate threat. His behavior on the subject gave the coalition additional justification to take action, but it never really moved me. I preferred the other big one the Bush administration talked about in 2002 — regime change. That, too, was fully justified, by Saddam’s behavior over the previous 12 years.
    The idea, which has been iterated over and over by everyone from the president to Thomas Friedman, was to start a sort of reverse domino effect — to drop a big rock into the pond, and generate ripples of liberal democracy that would lap against, and erode, the status quo in Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya and, if we got lucky, maybe even Iran. That process has at least begun in every one of those places except Iran — and don’t give up on Iran.
    In some ways Iraq wasn’t the place one would choose to drop the rock. It was profoundly, violently Balkanized and, like the country that spawned that adjective, had been held together by force. But it was the one place where the reigning despot had provided justification to step in.

Why take action?
    Why drop a rock at all? Why disturb the status quo? Hadn’t we done all we could to prop it up for decades? Wasn’t that why the president’s Dad stood by and let Iraqi rebels he had stirred up be slaughtered (possibly the most shameful thing my country has done in my lifetime) — because creating a “power vacuum” in Baghdad wouldn’t be “prudent”?
    Absolutely. We had propped up an intolerable status quo in the Mideast for decades. Why? To keep the oil flowing. I am dumbfounded when a war protester says Iraq is about oil. The first Gulf War was about oil; this is about the opposite.
    This one is about knocking the oil barrel over to see if we can’t get something better thanIraq_girls_1 oppression, frustration, hatred and terrorism to flow out of it. It was never, ever going to be easy. It remains hard enough that fewer and fewer Americans see how we can succeed. The challenges do remain daunting, but enormous progress has been made — often in spite of the Bush administration’s decisions. We’ve had highly successful elections — the last one with broad Sunni support — and internal security is increasingly in Iraqi hands (which is why U.S. casualties have recently slowed).
    Does forming a new government not present a huge hurdle? It does, but no more so than challenges already met. We have made it this far in spite of never having enough troops to provide the proper level of security.
    However hard it is, we have no choice. We’ve knocked over the barrel, and we have to deal with it.

Many faults, one virtue
    President Bush drives me nuts. His refusal to transform our energy strategies to make us stronger iIraq_abu_ghraibn fighting this war is unconscionable. And don’t get me started on his undermining our international financial position, or his failure to fire Donald “We’ve got enough troops” Rumsfeld after Abu Ghraib.
    But this deeply flawed man has one saving grace: When those planes flew into those towers, he got it. He knew that this was no longer his father’s world. He still sees it all rather hazily, but he sees it. And he’s stubborn as a stone. He will not give in to ripples of panic spreading through the electorate, not even (I fervently hope) to save his own political party.
    When he pointed out last week that pulling back in Iraq would be up to future presidents, and future Iraqi governments, I could have hugged him if he’d been closer. It was about time that he said what I wrote the very week American boots hit Iraqi sand — that he had crossed his Rubicon and taken the rest of us, including his successors, with him.
    It still stuns me that people can even consider pulling out, or ask when we will pull out — this year, next year? What utter madness.

The long haul
    If we did that any time within the foreseeable future, our nation would lose all credibility. No country, including our worst critics, would believe in American resolve within our lifetimes. Nor would we. It would be much worse than our global fecklessness after Vietnam. When the day came (and it would come) that the world needed America to lead it in standing up to some obvious, World War-sized threat — say, a belligerent China or a nuclear-missile-launching Iran — no one would trust us not to leave them in the lurch. Nor should they.
    Just as bad, we would have no credibility with terrorists. When the United States ran from Somalia after losing 18 men right on the verge of accomplishing the mission, Osama bin Laden drew certain conclusions about our resolve in the face of violence. The result was 9/11. What might he, and his millions of imitators, conclude if we ran from this exponentially greater mission? What horrors would they be emboldened to unleash if we were foolish enough to think we had the power to decide when it’s over?
    We can’t leave, folks.
    Even if the insurgencies ended today, we couldn’t leave. Even if the Sunni and Shiite gunmen turned on the foreign jihadists and drove them out tomorrow, then made friends with each other the next day, we couldn’t leave. Even if the hardheaded politicians in Baghdad formed a Madisonian democracy next week, we’d have to stay. It would be a long, long time before an infant republic could keep from being devoured by Iran from the east, Turkey from the north and Syria from the west. Our republic had oceans to keep it safe until it was big and strong; Iraq doesn’t.
    As daunting as the situation is, there is only one way to be certain to lose: Give up. We’ve alreadyBush9 made this a lot harder than it has to be by showing doubt. Every American who says we shouldn’t be there makes the terrorists a bit bolder, and the would-be Iraqi democrats a bit more afraid to risk their lives on our assurances.
    From his tax cuts to his Medicare drug plan to his threat to veto anti-torture legislation, there’s not much that President Bush has to sell that I would want to buy. But I pray to God and to my fellow Americans that he succeeds in selling the product he was taking door-to-door last week. The alternatives are too horrible.

116 thoughts on “Sunday’s Iraq war column

  1. Dave

    Brad, Bravo to you on this one. This editorial should be required reading for sure. In Iraq, there is no alternative than to make sure the result of the invasion, the regime change, and the formation of a new civil democratic style government is a success.

    Unfortunately, there are several entities that are working to ensure a failure: Iran, Syria, Al Qaeda, and a goodly portion of the mainstream US media. A few (and it is sad that it is even a few) misguided democrat politicians would also literally rejoice over an American failure. Not publicly of course, but celebration of the failure of a fledgling democracy would take place in the domain of the far left.

    I see several positive events coming into focus soon in Iraq. First, Saddam Hussein and his cadre of criminal thugs will be disposed of in a public and symbolic manner. That will be the clear and direct message to the Iraquis that he is over, for good, and good riddance. Al Qaeda has murdered enough Iraqi citizens on the Shia and Sunni sides that people who would heretofore not help with identification of the terrorists are stepping forward. Finally, the truth is coming out of the huge cache of Hussein regime documents that are now being translated re: that regime collaborating and supporting terrorism and WMD programs. Enough facts are accumulating that even the western media will have to acknowledge that there was full justification for removing the regime. Iran and Syria will have to be dealt with in due course. Both countries have contributed munitions and people to facilitate the slaughter of US soldiers. They will pay a blood price and it will be severe as it should be. Future democracies in these countries should be the goal, difficult as that will be to achieve.

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  2. LeRoy E Lewis

    Sorry Brad but your sentiments are misplaced. True we are now in Iraq and unfortunately stuck there for several decades to come. However to stay there with the same team that “had the best intentions in the world” is misplaced loyalty. Do you reward those on your staff who have good intentions but fail to bring the story in ?

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  3. George Davis

    Your article explains the Iraqi conflict in the light of the facts. For that I thank you. And I agree with a previuous writer, it should be required reading for all.

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  4. Phillip

    Brad, this is a very thoughtful and well-organized argument for your viewpoint on Iraq. I realize it’s primarily a synthesis of points you’ve made before, but in the manner you’ve presented it here, it approaches Hitchens-like eloquence for the pro-Iraq-intervention case.
    Of course, as you know, I disagree with most of it, but won’t rehash all of that here, just wanted to give you props for the good column.
    Oh, but one thing, Brad: there are many things our government might like to do that American citizens make “a lot harder than [they have] to be by showing doubt.” It’s called democracy. True, it’s a challenge to balance our security needs and military aims with democratic processes (Bush is working to fix that, I suppose!) but that’s the burden we face as a nation. I’m sure Bush could privatize Social Security very easily if we all would stop “showing doubt,” but that’s not how this country works.

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  5. Mary Rosh

    Once again Warthen proves what a lazy, cowardly, hypocritical piece of garbage he is. He’s all for sacrifices, so long as they’re made by someone else. He’s all for risk, undertaken by someone else. He’s all for spending whatever it takes to achieve whatever vague fantasy he wants to achieve, so long as it’s someone’s money that is being spent.
    Warthen has never contributed anything to this country. He has not fought in the wars he advocated, and he has not contributed one net cent to the support of this country. His entire life has been dedicated to collecting handouts and to advocating policies that require sacrifices and risks for other people, never for him. Warthen and the other chickenhawks that defend the Iraq war deserve nothing but contempt.
    Warthen’s whole philosophy is based on racism, on the idea that white people have the obligation to achieve hegemony over nonwhites through whatever force is needed. If you cut through Warthen’s obfuscation, that’s what you’re left with.
    Bush is determined to stay in Iran because he refuses to admit he’s wrong. That’s the sum total of his “vision”. He didn’t achieve a realization that terrorism was a threat on September 11. If he did, he wouldn’t have sat doing nothing for 20 minutes, and he wouldn’t have abandoned Afghanistan to the extent that now we are in the position of trying to negotiate a reprieve of a death sentence for someone who converted to Christianity. If Bush really cared about the threat of terrorism, he would have dealt with the threats that were there, the way Clinton did. Clinton exercised vigilance, which is why there was never a foreign terrorist attack on U.S. soil after the 1993 WTC bombing, which happened 38 days into Clinton’s first term. Clinton exercised vigilance. When he got wind of the Millenium Bomb Plot, his reaction wasn’t to go fishing.
    There will always be threats of terrorism, but the key to defeating terrorism is constant vigilance, not undertaking unachievable goals dreamed up by cowards and freeloaders such as Warthen, who will never expend one erg of energy in furtherance of those goals.
    Warthen sits around in his cesspool of ignorance and dreams of “spreading democracy in the middle east” without even articulating what that means, let alone what it takes to achieve it.
    Warthen talks about how leaving Iraq now would destroy our credibility. No it wouldn’t. We don’t have any credibility NOW, because the war in Iraq has taken so much of our resources that our capacity to respond to threats has been seriously impaired. If we admit we’re wrong and pull out of Iraq in such a way as to mitigate the harm we’ve caused to the greatest extent possible, we can improve the situation in Iraq by removing a focus for hostility, we can strengthen ourselves so that we have the power to respond to threats, we can save our resources so that we can help to improve conditions in Iraq without being constantly preoccupied with protecting our own soldiers, we can maybe get help from a multinational force with a significant Muslim component, we can gain respect from the world when they see that we have the capacity to recognize a mistake, and we can thwart bin Laden, by showing that he is no longer able to manipulate us into damaging foreign adventures.
    Bin Laden orchestrated the September 11 attacks because he wanted to draw the United States into attacking in the Middle East. He severely miscalculated with respect to Afghanistan, but Bush saved bin LAden’s war strategy by attacking Iraq. So every word Warthen says in support of our continuing presence in Iraq aids al Qaeda. Now, Warthen is not in fact an advocate or supporter of al Qaeda but the effect of his words is the same as if he were. Our invasion of Iraq was the best outcome al Qaeda could have dreamed of.
    War is costly. War is debilitating. That’s why loyal Americans see entering into war as a last resort. Cowards and freeloaders like Warthen don’t pay any of the costs of war. That’s why Warthen is constantly in full cry for the military pursuit of his racist fantasies. Because he isn’t the one who’s going to die in the pursuit of them.
    Warthen doesn’t care about the Americans who have died in the Iraq war because, fundamentally, he doesn’t care about America.

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  6. Ready to Hurl

    “Hitchens-like eloquence”
    That’s funny. I wouldn’t take the comparison to an incoherent drunk and Trotskyist-turned-neo-con as a compliment.

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  7. BLSaiken

    The President as much as admitted the other day that it will take another president to close out the mess he’s made. Brad makes some substantively good points, but it’s moot until the present band of nincompoops, including Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, etc., are out of office. Of course, if Jeb got elected in ’08, there might be some backhanded justice in that . . .

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  8. Mark Whittington

    A Call to All Good Americans
    by Ralph Nader

    Attention please, good people! Adjust your routines and come to the aid of your country, and your children with your thoughtful patriotism. Don’t just hope for impeachment, demand the resignation now of the mad hatters in the White House – George W. Bush and Richard Cheney.

    Already, a large majority of you do not consider this shifty duo trustworthy. By more than two to one you disapprove of Bush’s war in Iraq. Similar majorities believe this is also a President whose administrative incompetence – note the post-Katrina debacles compared to his promises last September in that devastated New Orleans – nearly matches his penchant for daily fabrications.

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  9. Herb

    It is interesting that one can tell the authorship of some comments before even finishing the first sentence. Which is probably just as well, since it spares me from having to read the rest.
    Well done, Brad, though I still think Americans are naive about the complexity and costs involved in “fixing” governments. And democracy in Egypt will more than likely bring in the Muslim Brotherhood, which is a worse case scenario than Mubarak. Personally, I am pessimistic about the ability of Muslim countries to sustain a democracy, but I hope very much that I am proved wrong.
    And I do applaud your continued support of our military people, unlike Fritz Hollings, who very cynically tried to use their sacrifice to his party’s political advantage in the last election. Personally, I thank God it didn’t work, and Lindsay Graham has taken his place.

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  10. BLSAiken

    Now let me get this straight, Herb. Fritz Hollings, a decorated Army veteran of WWII, is a cynical opportunist, but Lindsay Graham, who never saw a day of combat service, is God’s gift to the U. S. Senate. While I think Lindsay has turned out to be very effective as a Senator, I can remember at least a few instances of opportunism in his past (such as his claim to be a Gulf War veteran). Huh?

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  11. Jim

    Brad,
    That was certainly an admirable effort at summarizing the past three years of our adventure in Iraq, but I must disagree on a number of points. The influence of Tom Friedman circa 2002/2003 on your work is evident and I am glad to see you using the NY Times as a source (although rather selectively), but to continue to use euphemisms such as “insert the lever” and “drop a rock” hardly seem appropriate in the face of an est. 100,000 Iraqi deaths, daily carnage, murder and mayhem. This is not a benign chess game or social engineering experiment, and Friedman, Fukuyama, Buckley, Andrew Sullivan, Ledeen, Perle, Larry Wilkerson, George Will, Krauthammer,et al have begun issuing apologies and mea culpas for their role in this disastrous policy of a “preventive” war.
    While you recall nearly “all” nations believed that Saddam had WMD, I seem to recall the UN insp team insisting they had found no evidence of WMD at over 500 sites and had received minimal resistance from Saddam. Most nations wanted to allow the inspectors to finish the job of confirming disarmament. These nations were basing their opinions of Saddam’s capability on the statements of the US admin,while those with indep intelligence- Germany, France, and Italy- did not agree with many of our assessments regarding our “slamdunk” proof-aluminum tubes, ties to al Qaeda, uranium from Niger, etc. You cited a NYT article from two weeks ago regarding the false beliefs of Saddam’s Generals regarding WMD as further justification for our mistaken intel, but failed to mention one of the main sources of their info-the Colin Powell UN speech-they were proud and amazed at the vast destructive capability of their nation and were distraught when told by Saddam that none of the Powell evidence was true. Rather, the suspicious movements of men and material cited by Powell was actually Saddam trying desperately to comply with the regulations, clean all the sites and pass the inspections. The other main theme of the article was that Saddam’s primary focus was on internal stability (not suprising) and controlling the threat of Shiite rebellion, while balancing the constant threat of Iran; not threatening the West with WMD. As you know, the Senate Intel Comm documented the massive failure of pre-war intel in their phase I report, we are still waiting for phase II to evaluate the administration use of this info. ( I am sure phase II will be out any day now.)
    You should elabarate more on what you percieve as the “successes” of the “reverse domino theory”. Certainly not the victory of Hamas in Palestine, the acceleration of the Iranian program, or the burgeoning Nuclear program of that third spoke on the axis of evil, N Korea-their claim to the same “preventive strike” rights as the US was certainly interesting this week. Nor could you cite stats on the incidence of global terror- most sources claim enormous increases in incidents since the Iraq invasion. Al Qaeda is now de-centrailzed with enhanced global appeal and a perfect training ground for the export of jihad. You should also further describe the “enormous successes” achieved with nearly 2400 US lives, 500 bill dollars, etc- oil prod is down 30%, unemployment is 30-50%, electicity is 25 % below pre-war levels, and the risk of violent death is 47X higher than under Saddam. With the Pres assuring us that it will be his successor that will bring the troops home after 2009 ( @ 5-10 billion/month of borrowed money), this could get expensive. But I guess we are not feverishly building these “permanent” bases to abandon them any time soon.
    I don’t think that plans for a systematic withdrawal of US troops is either “madness” or will “embolden the terrorists”. We have achieved our stated goals of “regime change” and “democracy” and we are now only a further cause of instability(although recent reports indicate that we are now ironically defending the Sunni “insurgents” from the Shiite militia that we armed in their festering civil war. The Sunnis may be the only ones who now want us to stay. Unfortunately, our continuing to kill Iraqis and occupy their country continues to add the grievances of Muslims around the world who see us as an aggressor that acts only in its narrow interests and disregards the value of Muslim lives. Our “credibility” will not be redeemed by further unneccessary violence.
    Finally, the commonly cited gut feeling that Pres Bush “got it” on 9/11. We heard that a lot leading up to the election but it has lost it’s punch over the past few years. If the President’s revelation on 9/11 spawned the Bush “preventive war “doctrine, then it also led to the expanded unitary President, Guantanamo, VP Cheneys demands for the torture of prisoners, rendition, Black sites, Abu Graib, the suspension of Habeus corpus, ignoring Intl treaties, the NSA spying, etc. Not everything should have changed on 9/11( the rule of law, the Constitution, Human rights, civil liberties, etc.) and I don’t think the President “gets that”. This war is now recognized by the majority of Americans as a catastrophic failure in foreign policy which has been counterproductive and diverted our attention in the “global war on terrror”.

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  12. Dave

    Herb, you are right about Americans not having enough patience. Thankfully, Bush does, and so the Iraq “project” will be conducted to the end. I see this same impatience in the business sector. The naive expect immediate success on new product engineering, new systems projects, new marketing campaigns, you name it. We truly have become the instant gratification society. Even drive through fast food is not enough to quell our patience. The US was formed in 1776 but our first Presidential election was not until 1789. Can you imagine the nattering nabobs of negativity who we hear over and over today if they were around back then? We would have never had a nation at all because the doom and gloomers would have “cut and run” and surrendered before we ever had the chance to form a nation. Three months has passed since the Iraqi elections and the leftist idiots in this nation are throwing in the towel. The worst thing is that people don’t want to consider “facts” anymore. Ignore the facts, let’s just do what makes one feel self righteous.

    Mary above noted that the US has exhausted its military or some such statement regarding the war on terror. How naive is that. In the US, we have over 1 billion guns and as many as 50 to 100 million men and women who own guns, many of whom hunt or target shoot recreationally, but are also very patriotic and will defend this nation in a heartbeat. This also is the militia that would come to duty when called in the case of internal or domestic attacks on US soil. Then again, Mary’s knowledge of combat and military is purely verbal, and pretty pathetic.

    I share your concerns, as I have posted before, in that we are dealing with Muslims and getting them to even understand the concept of democracy. My hope is the ultimate human need to be free and secure will prevail. See Mazlov’s Theory of Hierarchical Needs.

    Brad’s editorial was a gem, and if only once the NY Times had a balanced thinker like him, they actually would have a chance of survival. I think he put a lot of thought and time into that editorial, and I didnt agree with all of it, but we should at least be thankful that at least one paper has enough smarts to see the big picture in all of this.

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  13. Dave

    Jim, how can you write about the disregard for Muslim lives and ignore mass graves of perhaps a half million or more Iraqi Kurds and Shias? Your talking points are about a year old now. How about citing some positives: women allowed to be educated and hold jobs, women voting, hospitals open and stocked with medicine, universities open, infrastructure of Iraq modernizing re: electric, sewer, water, etc., and most of all — 70% of Iraqis are now optimistic about the future. You hate that one I bet.

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  14. Capital A

    Knave, why can’t you and other warbirds of your flock ever grasp the basic truth that democracy is not a gift that can be given? It has to be seized by your own (usually bloody) hands.
    You must have flown the coop during history class. You earn an F.

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  15. Jim

    Dave,
    I certainly don’t “ignore” the crimes of Saddam, but these crimes were over a decade old and were not prevented by our invasion-this was never a “humanitarian mission”. Please refer to the PNAC policies/writings which are easily accessible. The justification for the policies were to forcefully propel the US presence into the ME to stabilize the oil supply, establish additional US bases and promote the “interests” of the US and it’s allies. 9/11 and the WMD issue were used as a “propaganda vehicle” in the press to gain public support. The admin and the “neocons” were determined to pursue conflict and regime change in Iraq from the beginning (as they urged Clinton to invade as well). If you have followed the Saddam trial, his justifications for the execution of the 148 men after the assasination attempt sound eerily similar to our justification for the killing of Iraqis-they were “insurgents” trying to overthrow the state, they were tried in an Iraqi court under the rule of law and found guilty, etc. I am not a Saddam apologist, but I can only attempt to influence what is done in our names by our govt. We may not count the Iraqi dead, but they certainly do and a number of the more recent graves have our name on it.
    I would like to know what “talking points” were over a year old. Almost all of the the “vital stats” have worsened since the Mosque bombing in Samarra. In the past 2 wks alone, violent deaths in Baghdad alone have tripled (190 in 2 weeks) as “sectarian cleansing” has gone into effect. We had 2 “insurgent assaults” on police stations/jails and Naval intel is investigating the execution over 15 civilians by US marines. I have not read of any hospitals that are operating in a higher capacity than before the invasion, but that may be a result of no journalists being able to leave the Green zone due to violence(more journalists killed in Iraq than in Viet Nam; >65) Most of the schools that are being rebuilt were destroyed in the war. BTW, women were allowed to be educated and hold jobs under the secular regime of Saddam, I think you are confusing Iraq with the other democracy under Islamic law, Afghanistan. The optimistic poll numbers vary (and can be used to defend any position) but have sunk in the past month and are well below the number of Iraqis that believe resistance to the US occupation is justified and the number that want the US to leave within the next year. I certainly don’t “hate” optimistic polls, I only hope it is true. I hate what this war has done to many Iraqis, our standing in the world, and the fact that it has been detrimental to the “war of ideas” that is really at the heart of the war on terror.

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  16. Carbon

    Thank you, Brad for your column.
    I spent some time in Iraq after the invasion. Most people back home have virtually no idea what really goes on there. There is much good that happens each day. Surely, there are setbacks as well. But there is hope that this enterprise really can work.
    Most folks don’t understand just how traumatized Iraq was by Saddam. I heard chilling stories of what the old regime did. Many of the people who would be looked for for leadership in the new Iraq are dead — Saddam saw a lot of intelligent people as a threat to him and eliminated them. So it will take time to help the remaining Iraqis rebuild a civil society.
    Even worse than Saddam was his elder son, Uday. It’s remarkable that the press has not reported on Uday’s actions. The numerous stories of rapes, tortures and murders at his hand should be tracked down and verified. But no reporters seem interested. They’re too busy tracking every IED that goes off.

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  17. Lee

    It was a good opinion piece, even if it played along with the anti-war lie that there “were no WMD”, despite a continually increasing mountain of evidence that there were WMD in Iraq in 2003, and that Iraq collaborated with Bin Laden and other terrorists.
    PS: Why did millionaire Ralph Nader operate his presidential campaign out of the same offices as the Communist Party USA in NYC?

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  18. Ready to Hurl

    Yawn. Lee makes more unsubstantiated “allegations” which are really just meant to baselessly smear.
    Where’s the proof that Nader is a “millionare” or that he had any connection with the Communist Party, USA? Put up or shut-up, Lee.
    As for Lee’s continuing fantasy that there is a “mountain” of credible evidence that Saddam had any significant operational links to AQ or that there were WMD in Iraq… puh-leeze, where’s the proof?
    Saddam’s tapes provide no proof. Months of searching by “Coalition” forces revealed no evidence.
    While Dear Leader’s minions are incompetent when it comes to executing either the Iraqi War or rescuing New Orleanians they most assuredly are skilled propagandists. There would be no debate if they could even come close to proving either point.
    So the inevitable conclusion is that the Bushites can not substantiate the reasons that convinced Americans invading Iraq was necessary.
    And, the American people are just tumbling the fact that the Commander-in-Chief is little more than a serial liar.
    Keep trying, Lee.

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  19. Ready to Hurl

    Oh, yes, the only statement worth replying to in Brad’s delusional op-ed was that Iraq was some kind of metaphorical point of leverage that could “transform” the Middle East.
    Brad, review Br’er Rabbit and then try sticking a pole in a swamp and proceed to lever it.
    We will be in Iraq until we “declare victory” and withdraw. Whether that is within the next year or after tens of thousands of more American casualties depends on whether Bush and Cheney get impeached after the mid-term elections.
    Either way, the result will be the same– except for the wounded and maimed.
    I will cede one point to you, Brad, had Dear Leader and his minions been minimally competent then there was a slight chance of averting a total disaster. However, that argument fails because a minimally competent administration wouldn’t have grabbed this Tar Baby without active backing from the rest of the world. (No offense to Poland, btw.)

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  20. Lee

    The proof that Ralph Nader is a millionaire is in the portfolio of 50 blue chip stocks he owns, valued at over $3,000,000. They are listed on his FEC financial disclosure, which he fought to not fill out, but was forced to by a lawsuit.

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  21. Lee

    Hillary Clinton said she voted to invade Iraq because her former husband’s security advisors told her there was no doubt that Iraq still had WMD.

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  22. Ted Teagle, Sr.

    This was the fairest, most comprehensive, most succinct and insightful summation of our middle-eastern situation that I have read. Those who have chosen to attack this commentary have, I suspect, agendas not supported by the unvarnished truth.

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  23. bill

    “There is only the slightest movement of the fingers that makes the v-sign different from the Nazi salute. Always watch that.”
    Don Van Vliet

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  24. Elise Warren

    Brad
    Thank you for expressing the thoughts of so many of us that have no voice in the polls. I, for one, have never been asked my opinion. I do not believe that”Most Americans” regard this effort by the greatest nation in the world as a catastrophic failure. We have not forgotten what happened on 9/11 and the horror suffered by thousands of innocent Americans who were faced with the choice of burning alive or jumping from the top of one of the twin towers. Thank God that George Bush is “stubborn as a stone” and that he has the fortitude to do everyhing in his power to prevent this ever happening again regardless of how the concequences effect his place in history. May God help him!

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  25. Ed

    Brad, Please reread Jim’s post. I couldn’t have said it better (and, honestly, not as well). I would add one thing – we can’t win. It’s that simple. Invaders full of hubris – Israel in Lebanon; the Soviet Union in Afghanistan; Vietnam in Cambodia; and of course us in Vietnam – all eventually had to leave, not because they had trouble invading, far from it, in every above example the initial invasion was easy, but because the insurgents could out wait them. How long would you have us stay? three more years? ten? twenty? How many lives should we expect to lose? 10,000? 20,000? as many as we lost in Vietnam? We can’t win. Period. Ed

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  26. Herb

    BLS, I was referring to Fritz Hollings’ statement that he did not know what he should say to grieving Iraqi War widows/widowers. Well, he should thank them for their spouses’ committment to their country, and not use the opportunity to run down the Commander in Chief, no matter how much he questions Bush’s wisdom (of course during the 2004 election process). I question politicians and their motives, but I don’t think we should ever undermine the commitment of those who lay their lives on the line. Hollings’ experience as a WWII veteran has nothing to do with this. It was Hollings the politician I was referring to. And he does not need to express doubt to grieving loved ones about whether the sacrifice of their loved ones in the military was worth it. Sorry that I don’t have the link, but it’s been a couple of years since that incident, and I can’t find it.

    Reply
  27. ReRite

    Your talking points are about a year old now. How about citing some positives: women allowed to be educated and hold jobs, women voting, hospitals open and stocked with medicine, universities open, infrastructure of Iraq modernizing re: electric, sewer, water, etc., and most of all –

    Prior to the UN sanctions all the above were already taking place. Whether or not the woman’s vote counted, well that’s another story, but they were ‘allowed’ to vote regardless.

    We were principally responsible for the infrastructure collapse.

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  28. bill

    In 1985 a young journalist subjected himself to an extraordinary apprenticeship to bring back a fascinating glimpse of a Yaqui Indian’s world of “non-ordinary reality” and the difficult and dangerous road a man must travel to become “a man of knowledge.” Yet on the brink of that world, challenging to all that we believe, he drew back.
    Then in 2006, Brad Warthen returned to Mexico, to don Juan and his hallucinogenic drugs, and to a world of experience no man from our Western civilization had ever entered before;a separate reality.

    Reply
  29. BLSaiken

    Herb, I think we may not be as far apart as we seemed initially. But it seems that only Democratic politicians come in for criticism about saying inappropriate things. I don’t know what the outcome in Iraq will be, but I do know that we as a nation don’t deserve the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, given our unwillingness to pay up NOW for the war. We’re far wealthier in real terms now than we were in 1941, yet far more possessive about “what’s mine now stays mine, let my grandchildren pay for today’s war”.

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  30. Ready to Hurl

    Hey, Lee: When Dems or progressives cite a person’s economic status rightwingers squeal “class warfare.”
    I’ll take your word on the “proof” (although, as usual, you offer no links or any means to easily check your statement).
    I’m still wondering at the relevance of Nader’s net worth– unless you’re practicing class warfare. Of course, that would be pretty hypocritical since most rightwingers consider wealth to be a positive indicator and poorness to indicate at least an absence of ability, if not, a moral failing.
    BTW, you seem to have forgotten that cagey little verbal sleight of hand connecting Nader to the Communist Party.

    Reply
  31. Herb

    BL, I think I agree with you wholeheartedly here. And I would like to think that I would be the first to criticize Republican politicians as well, though present time constraints keep me from reading as much as I should.
    I have/have had a lot of relatives in the military; I will always have a load of respect for their willingness to serve. As an evangelical Christian, I also have even more respect for some people serving and helping in some very difficult places, and they don’t have a military to back them up, or a commissary to go to and buy Thanksgiving dinner. I count it a privilege to help all of these in any way I can, which isn’t much, I’m afraid.

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  32. Mary Rosh

    Elise, I remember the September 11 attacks too. You know what else I remember? I remember Bush sitting doing nothing for 20 minutes after being informed that America was under attack. You know what else I remember? I remember Bush and Cheney lying about weapons of mass destruction, and pretending that Saddam Hussein had some sort of connection to the September 11 attacks.
    The Iraq was doesn’t have anything to do with the September 11 attacks, and it doesn’t have anything to do with fighting terrorism. Bush’s stubbornness doesn’t have anything to do with determination to do the right thing; it has only to do with a refusal to admit he’s wrong. The war is damaging the United States and making us more susceptible to terrorism, and you blather on about September 11, as if endangering America and losing the lives of thousands of our soldiers was the right way to respond to the attacks. If Bush had paid attention to what was going on BEFORE September 11, he would have stopped the attack. Instead, he spent the whole month of August 2001 on vacation, sat frozen with fear while the attacks were underway, ran like a coward after the attacks, and wasted inestimable resources picking and losing a fight in order to set the stage for him to prance around on an aircraft carrier.
    Now, Elise, I am collecting names of stupid people in order to organize a sort of Stupidity Olympics. In order to know what class you’re eligible to compete in, I need to know this:
    Are you a professional moron, or just a gifted amateur?

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  33. Mary Rosh

    Herb, in addition to being an incredibly stupid man, you are a crybaby and a coward. You criticize Hollings for “running down the Commander in Chief” and somehow “undermining the commitment of our troops” by doing so. The commitment our troops make is to follow the orders they are given, and that’s all. That’s a lot. They don’t make a commitment to believe that the orders are wise, or sensible, or the best thing for America. In their role as soldiers, they suspend that sort of judgment. We still have the right and the duty to make that judgment, and by doing so we don’t “undermine” our soldiers; we serve them.
    No amount of criticism of a particular policy undermines the commitment of our troops, because they aren’t committed to any particular policy, they are only committed to carrying out whatever orders they are given in order to effect whatever policies are decided on by our leaders.
    You are a worthless coward, who can’t defend your position, and so you use our troops as a shield to deflect criticism of your argument. Bush is only the Commander in Chief of the armed forces. He isn’t the Commander in Chief of the United States. He is an employee of the United States, and the citizens of the United States have a right and a duty to criticize his actions whenever they see fit.
    Bush’s war has been a disaster, and has wasted the lives of thousands of our soldiers, as well as hundreds of billions of dollars. I know that you don’t care about the lives of our soldiers, or the billions of dollars that have been wasted, because you don’t bear any of those costs.
    But for God’s sake, be a man, instead of a bedwetting crybaby. If you have some argument to make in support of the Iraq war, make it. Don’t pretend that you care about our soldiers, because you don’t. Criticizing the war doesn’t undermine our soldiers. Saying that soldiers’ lives have been wasted doesn’t undermine our soldiers. Saying that Bush is an incompetent, lying, coward doesn’t undermine our soldiers. Trying to prevent criticism by saying that it “undermines our soldiers” is a betrayal of them and of America. Our soldiers volunteered to fight for us, to carry out the orders they were given without passing judgment on those orders. It is our duty as citizens to pass judgment on the orders that are given to our soldiers and the policies they are given to carry out. It is our duty to pass that judgment, because they relinquished the right to pass judgment when the volunteered to serve.
    By using the bodies of our soldiers as a shield to protect yourself from opinions you find distasteful, you prove yourself to be an utterly worthless piece of garbage. If you fell into a sewer, the sewer would vomit you out in disgust.

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  34. Mary Rosh

    Yeah, Herb, you impugn the patriotism of Senator Hollings and you see nothing wrong with that. But when I point out that you’re a crybaby and a disloyal American for using our troops as a shield to deflect criticism of your views, that’s “vitriol.”
    I notice that you didn’t address the substance of either my or Hollings’s comments.

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  35. Capital A

    Even if I do find your comments out of touch and ill-informed (at times), Herb, I still like you, old timer, if that means anything.
    Though, I did smile when TT made an early tourney exit. Stand back as the Cocks grab that 66th place trophy on Thursday night! And, Herb, spare me any comments about Christian number symbolism :)

    Reply
  36. Herb

    Don’t forget Mr. A, that I am also a Gamecock fan, having helped one daughter through USC. And Bobby Knight will be back. I seem to remember that USC has had a losing season or two somewhere in the past . . . .

    Reply
  37. Capital A

    Herb, I’m paying scientists big bucks right now to speed along time travel research. Our goal: erase the Steve Newton era from Gamecock history.
    Ever want to see a man on the verge of tears? Once we’re successful, dial in your personal time machine to the waning moments of the following game. Location: Coach’s Sportsbar in Charlotte, NC.
    http://web.tampabay.rr.com/clemson/steve4.htm
    Raindrops were fallin’ on my head…

    Reply
  38. Lee

    Civics Lesson: Why Ralph Nader’s wealth is relevant.
    1. He claims live on $30,000 a year, but has a portfolio of $3,000,000.
    2. He criticizes big corporations, but his wealth consists almost entirely of stocks in 50 blue chips.
    3. He ran his campaign out of the Communist Party USA headquarters in New York.
    4. He fought in court to not file a financial disclosure form with the FEC.
    5. He might be too phony to hold office.

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  39. Ready to Hurl

    So, Brad, are we to understand from your op-ed that lying and misleading the USA into invading another country is A-OK while lying about one’s sex life is an impeachable offense?
    I just want to get a read on your priorities.
    BTW, have you applied for honorary membership in the Project for the New American Century?
    For three years you’ve witnessed the slow mo train wreck that the PNAC’s philosophy has caused. Yet you still think that all it needs is more American blood.
    Does it even give you pause to know that all Cheney wanted to know about from Clinton’s SecDef was Iraq? Hint: this was pre-9/11. Answer this: why didn’t we invade North Korea? They had nukes and show lots of willingness to export arms.

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  40. Capital A

    Hurl, but NK didn’t try to assassinate Bushdaddy… Don’t you know that when the egos of “important” men are impugned by the egos of other supposedly “important” men, the rest of us suffer?
    The Illiad. Anybody?

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  41. Dave

    Bush and Cheney didnt want to hear any of the stupidity from Cohen the No Defense Secretary. Cohen’s big accomplishment was what? Why would they want to hear that the solution to any terrorist related act was to launch a few missiles to get on the nightly news, and then go back to ignoring the real problem. We have real men running the country now, and a few very first class women like Condi Rice. It is great that we have a real man in the UN now. Bolton is handing out some old fashioned whup @ss to Iran and it is long overdue.

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  42. Lee

    Bin Laden said he was able to recruit terrorists and attack the US because Clinton, Les Aspin, Cohen and Reno ran from every confrontation with radical Muslims.

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  43. Bud

    Kudos to Jim. If we leave Iraq now, NOTHING bad will happen to us. There will be no increase in terrorism. Oil prices will not go up. The longer we stay the greater the cost. So let’s get out now and not listen to the fear mongers in Washington.

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  44. Ready to Hurl

    Brad, no news here. Keep on ogling Andre’s girls on My Space.
    Insulating Bush
    By Murray Waas, National Journal
    © National Journal Group Inc.
    Thursday, March 30, 2006
    Karl Rove, President Bush’s chief political adviser, cautioned other White House aides in the summer of 2003 that Bush’s 2004 re-election prospects would be severely damaged if it was publicly disclosed that he had been personally warned that a key rationale for going to war had been challenged within the administration. Rove expressed his concerns shortly after an informal review of classified government records by then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley determined that Bush had been specifically advised that claims he later made in his 2003 State of the Union address — that Iraq was procuring high-strength aluminum tubes to build a nuclear weapon — might not be true, according to government records and interviews.
    As the 2004 election loomed, the White House was determined to keep the wraps on a potentially damaging memo about Iraq.
    Hadley was particularly concerned that the public might learn of a classified one-page summary of a National Intelligence Estimate, specifically written for Bush in October 2002. The summary said that although “most agencies judge” that the aluminum tubes were “related to a uranium enrichment effort,” the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the Energy Department’s intelligence branch “believe that the tubes more likely are intended for conventional weapons.”
    Three months after receiving that assessment, the president stated without qualification in his January 28, 2003, State of the Union address: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.”

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  45. Ready to Hurl

    Yeah, Dave. “Real men.” Right.
    Say, when was the first meeting of Real Man Cheney’s task force on terrorism supposed to meet? Wasn’t it 9/12/01?
    If you get into the “way-back” machine and visit the Bush “real men” and “real woman” prior to 9/11/01, they were more concerned with reviving the Star Wars initiative than terrorism.
    The “real woman” even got annoyed when Richard Clark, the counter-terrorism czar, tried to warn the “real men.” Did she fire him (since he was tainted with the “softness” of Clintonism)? Did she, out of concern about “terrorism-run-wild” under Clinton, replace him? Nope. She just demoted the position in charge of counter-terrorism during the previous three years when no terror attacks against mainland USA were successful.
    Now, Dave, remind me about the el grande cohones of the administration that allowed 9/11/01 happen on their watch.

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  46. Dave

    RTH – Moussaui was arrested before 9-11 but thanks to the Clintonites justice department (Gorelick) critical terrorist information was not allowed to be shared between CIA and FBI and military. That “weakling wall” cost over 3,000 Americans their lives. Now the same weak on security bunch want to put in more restrictions on our ability to find terrorists. This weekend 60 Minutes will spotlight Bin Laden’s security guard who says that right now OBL is planning a new attack on our nation. But, OBL is encouraged to know that the Democrat traitors are trying to stop our security forces from hearing his phone calls or tapping his internet.

    By the way, Star Wars as an initiative has been hampered and delayed for at least 2 decades by the same weakling traitors, Carl Levin among them. Now N. Korea and Iran are claiming to have nuclear missiles that can reach our shores. When one of those hits, you will be blaming that on Bush too.

    One last thought, Richard Clarke is the big security man who authorized all Bin Laden relatives and jets to fly out of the country after 9-11 while commercial airspace was shut down. He has admitted that. So you think Clarke was warning anyone about anything? You are being paged by Oliver Stone.

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  47. Ready to Hurl

    Earth-to-Dave.
    People like you are the prime reason for my pseudonymn. Your stupidity and vicious ignorance is sickening.
    Calling people who disagree with your delusional positions “traitors” is the technique of ignorant filth like Joe McCarthy, Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter– all proud Republicans.
    I hope that I’ve made my opinion of you crystal clear.
    Until you retract that statement I will continue to hold my opinion of you. Maybe I’ll get around to rebutting your specious arguments when I’m not picturing you as a steaming pile.
    One last observation about your “real men” in the current regime. They must have grown cohones after they were safe from serving in Vietnam. They’re mighty brave when they order other people to fight, get wounded and die.

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  48. Dave

    Abe Lincoln knew what a traitor was and knew what to do with traitors. I haven’t called you a traitor but based on your reactions you empathize with them. You have to live with that problem, not me. Read here about Lincoln’s handling of traitors – American Thinker!

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  49. Herb

    The really sad thing is the inability of some people to discuss issues and disagree respectfully. Instead, they proceed to judge the motives of others (as if they knew what they were), and even worse, trash their character. In doing so, they are only revealing their own trash.

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  50. Lee

    The modern liberal is a romantic despot, an elitist who doesn’t need facts or debate that might dissuade from his vision. His feelings are noble, and anyone who tries to reason with him is a heretic.

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  51. Brad Warthen

    Bud says nothing bad will happen, and THEN he says the price of oil won’t go up.
    But you see, that’s bad. Perhaps neither you nor George W. Bush understand that, but it would be bad. Since the government won’t ration gasoline, or do anything else to inconvenience today’s whiny voters, the only way we’re going to reduce consumption and learn to conserve is if the price goes up.
    If it goes up enough, demand will drop. Mideast despots will sell less of it — IF we could all grow up enough to demand that the government adjust the gas tax to KEEP the price high. Then we’ll get into a cycle that will cause political change to occur in some of the most oppressive regimes in the world — regimes that get away with it by buying off their people with oil. If we consume a LOT less, they won’t keep their grip on power.

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  52. Capital A

    Herb, Jesus really held his tongue while those Pharisees preyed on, swindled and generally derided the poor and underclass, didn’t he? Once again, Herb, J-E-S-U-S C-H-R-I-S-T, not N-E-D F-L-A-N-D-E-R-S…
    Jesus may have even taken a swing at someone in anger concerning their misdeeds. Have faith in the impossible.
    Knave, do unto others as you would want done unto yourself. Ignorantly attack the downtrodden or simply unlucky, and you will be, at the very least, insulted. My preference is to insult (hopefully) entertainingly. Welcome to America.
    Whatever happened to civility? I present you with a partial answer to that oft asked question…
    http://www.pelourinho.com/movies/becomerepublican.swf

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  53. Lee

    Government rationing of fuel is really dumb, except in time of all out war.
    Just think, if we had not created the stupid open immigration policy of 1965 under LBJ, and kept granting amnesties every 10 years, the population would today be stabilized at about 170,000,000. We would be using about 40% less oil and importing none unless it was really cheap.

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  54. Capital A

    Lee, you’d also have less teens and troops in their twenties to toss into turbulent areas in times of trouble.
    C’mon, buddy, think these things through. Conservatives are countin’ on your puzzlin’ evidence.

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  55. Herb

    Capital A, I doubt you can substantiate any reference to Jesus taking a swing at anybody. Upsetting tables, yes, speaking the truth, yes, but nothing can substantiate Jesus yelling, starting a fistfight, or degrading anyone. Matthew 23 is about as direct as it comes to the Pharisees, and it is interesting that He is pretty straightforward about eternal punishment (as he is generally in Matthew’s Gospel, something that I doubt a good post-modern like you even believes in, though I could certainly be wrong). When people impugn the motives of others, they are basically setting themselves up as judges, which is what the Pharisees did. Unless you have that kind of authority, I suggest we could all benefit from a somewhat humbler tone on yours and Mary’s part. Jesus was also totally quiet at time when there was no point in saying anything, because the other person wasn’t open to learning anything. There is a time to speak out and a time to refrain; wisdom knows the difference. It would be nice if we could ask questions, push for clarification, and disagree as responsible citizens who hopefully want the best for each other, and the best for our country. Tearing the other person down is another method of making my own position higher, but doesn’t benefit me or the other person.

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  56. Capital A

    Herb, I don’t think you totally read or fully understood my commentary or its irony. Substantiation for a book that relies so much on implication? You’re more ironic than I, sir.
    Out of respect for your age and for the good works I suspect you have done (both implied and expressed in your own posts), I’ll sheathe my rapier wit where you are concerned. I’ll try to be a better man.
    Where others who have notably attacked those parts of society they deem as dust are concerned, I’ll choose, instead, to be rather pointed.
    Y’see, where the Jewish authors were a mite sketchy and contradictory on their details, the Founding Fathers were a bit more straightforward in their hopes and wishes. Any muddled turn of phrase they left behind was intentional. They had faith we would act rightly and accordingly in the spirit of their given guidelines.
    That stated and following that framework, I can find nothing in the words or actions of the Founding Fathers where it is agreeable to attack or degrade whole segments of the population for their economic or educational status. Those slights that did exist against races or sexes have been largely wiped away by posterity.
    Well placed faith, Fathers! Score one for cultural evolution! (Oops! I said the naught-e word.)
    The person who you are defending is guilty of such degradation. His posts are pretty pellucid. He’s not keepin’ the faith in the spirit of the American Dream. Take my meaning?
    I did not seek to make my position higher at the expense of others. I merely championed the gospels of our nation’s Founders.
    Silly me, taking up for the minority. You’d think someone like Jesus might be my role model the way I was acting.
    Wait. I said I’d spare you my wit and be an improved person. I guess I wasn’t entirely truthful in that respect.
    To be clear (since you are seeking clarity and manners over instinctive morality), maybe I’m just a good…no…okay man.
    I can live with that. If I’m going to keep breaking promises, I guess I better.

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  57. Herb

    Well, Capital A., at least we have something in common to rejoice about, after Friday night.
    But I think I owe you an apology. I tend to read over things too quickly (I do have a lot to do; I’ll uses that as an excuse, if it is one), and reading back, I think I was attributing you the words of RTH, who among other examples, refers to his opponents like this:

    I hope that I’ve made my opinion of you crystal clear.
    Until you retract that statement I will continue to hold my opinion of you. Maybe I’ll get around to rebutting your specious arguments when I’m not picturing you as a steaming pile.

    I won’t even bother to quote Mary’s statements, with which we are all too familiar. They are the same, anyway, no matter who she is addressing. Whoever disagrees with her point of view is an “coward, bed-wetting cry-baby, worthless garbage, etc.” She is giving evidence of not only being non-reachable, but not teachable; she will not learn from anybody unless they happen to be of her own point of view.
    All of us might well keep in mind a significant statement of someone with a lot of authority:

    But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matt. 12:36-37, NASU)

    The times are sadly getting rarer now, but when our family does manage to get all together (Christmas, maybe), the political views run the gamut from Rush Limbaugh almost to Jim Wallis and The Sojourners (no links, I can’t make them work this morning). But thankfully, to this point, all of the kids and grandkids love Jesus, and can disagree civilly. There is a lot of different insight there, from a Ph.D. student of political science on the one hand, to a nurse, to two licensed counselors, to lawn-care worker, and other occupations as well.
    But one thing we have to decide, is which of the following we want to keep to, and thankfully, up until now, our family has chosen more of the latter:

    “Their throat is an open grave, With their tongues they keep deceiving,” “The poison of asps is under their lips”; “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness” . . . . and the path of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:13-14,17-18).
    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (I Cor. 13:4-7, NIV)

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  58. Mary Rosh

    Yeah, Herb, anytime anyone refutes one of your specious arguments, and calls you out for what you are, you get the vapors because of their “incivility.” But somehow it’s OK for you to essentially call Senator Hollings a traitor, by accusing him of “undermining our troops.”
    Your call for “civility” is nothing but a mechanism to silence arguments you cannot answer. You only call on people to be “civil” when they disagree with you. You impose no standards of civility on anyone who shares your views, nor do you impose any such standards on yourself.
    If you really believed in civility, you would practice it. You would adhere to the same standards you seek to impose on others.

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  59. BLSaiken

    Lee is at it again with wild and baseless assertions. In 1960, 5 years before the change in the law, the U.S. population was already at 180,000,000, with a few more years of the Baby Boom to run. Given that our natural rate of increase (in this country) has been around 2.1% over those years, we’d already have well over 200,000,000 folks – without any more immigrants.

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  60. Lee

    I was alive in 1960, and remember that the population was 178,000,000 and declining.
    According to demographers, it would have stabilized at about 170,000,000 persons without any immigration.

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  61. Herb

    No, Mary, I have the right to question the action of Sen. Hollings in stating that he does not know what to tell grieving military families, because he does not know what the purpose of their sacrifice was. Of course he has the right to question the purpose of a particular war effort, though as a responsible member of government, as he was at that time, I would submit that he should do so in debate in Congress, and not to the general public.
    But the context of his statement was at military funerals. I have been in ministry for more than 30 years, and I think I know a very little bit about what to say to grieving people. To insinuate that the sacrifice of their loved ones was in vain is to undermine their service, whatever else it may be.
    I am hiding behind nothing. I do what I do, because of a sense of God’s calling. He did not, or at least has not yet, call me to serve in the military. That being the case, I will do what I have been called to do, and it really does not matter what you or anyone else thinks about it.
    Having written that, there is a difference between questioning the action of a particular person, and even labeling it “questionable,” or even “foolish,” which is a very strong word. But to actually call a person “traitor,” or “piece of garbage,” or “coward,” especially when you do not even know that person, is to engage in character assassination, and in my opinion, the person who does it ought to be sued. I know that the person who does it is guilty before God:

    I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother “idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell “stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill. (Matt. 5:22, The Message)

    It is the nature of a blog, as I understand it, to be able to write as one would converse, and not to have to think through all the details. Those can be clarified through question and answer, as in any conversation. Those who engage in name-calling, short-circuit that process, and ultimately destroy it for everybody. The only way we can carry on is to pretty much ignore what you are writing, which is what I will do in the future. Brad is, in my opinion, amazingly long-suffering; I would have erased most of your posts long ago.
    Having written all that, I have also been in ministry long enough to know that people who hurt other people are hurting people themselves. I would wager that the names you use on others are the very ones that you call yourself, deep down inside. That can change, if you let it.

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  62. Dave

    Herb, Because we have the 1st Amendment rights, we are all better off in the long run. Bloggers have no obligation to filter their thoughts and words like a politician would normally do and that is what is telling about Hollings. Remember that Hollings also got himself into hot water commenting about how “African potentates are too busy eatin’ each other” to improve their nations or whatever. An attempt to be humorous I am sure but he wasnt commenting on a blog. You see the same underlying mental problems with Mary that I noticed but she isn’t a US Senator. She seems to be so filled with hatred and vitriol that you would think she could explode.

    Anyway, for my two cents I agree with you we are better off with a modicum of civility but on a blog a thick skin is an asset.

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  63. Herb

    Dave, I think I have as thick a skin as anybody else here. But a blog is, after all, a public forum. You don’t go around in public places telling people they are a coward, or whatever.
    Besides, my conviction is that we have ceased pretty much correcting anybody in our culture, because what anyone thinks or does is just as good as what anybody else thinks or does. I don’t buy that, and I do correct people, when I think it is right to do so. And I am old enough now to not care all that much what others think about it.

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  64. Paul DeMarco

    Herb,
    Thanks for trying to keep the debate civil. Personal attacks simply demonstate that the attacker’s argument won’t stand on its own merit. Mary’s “worthless piece of garbage” routine is tiresome and mitigates any impact the substance of her message might have. If I were Brad, I wouldn’t stand for it. I’d warn her and her like and then ban them from the site if they continued. If not, I predict, the ugliness will only worsen.

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  65. Mary Rosh

    Herb, it saddens me that you cloak your hypocrisy and cowardice behind the Bible. Your call for “civility” is not sincere, but is a strategy, much like Huckleberry Graham’s incessant calls for civility. I notice that neither you nor Huckleberry Graham ever calls for “civility” from anyone who supports your viewpoints. “Civility” in both of your cases is a shield to allow your viewpoints to be expressed while suppressing the viewpoints of others.
    It’s easy to see what a liar, coward, and hypocrite you are by considering the following:
    Do your rules of discourse prohibit criticism of the war if such criticism is 100% accurate? Do your rules of discourse prohibit saying that the sacrifices of our soldiers are in vain, even if such statements are 100% accurate?
    And of course, an examination of what you have said shows that you condemn statements criticising the war, EVEN IF SUCH STATEMENTS ARE TRUE. You claim that criticism of the war “undermines the commitment of our soldiers” and therefore people should refrain from such criticism. Well, of course, if criticism of a policy did undermine the commitment of our soldiers (which it doesn’t – our soldiers commit to carry out the orders they are given; they do not, in their role as soldiers, pass judgment on the orders), then such criticism would undermine the policy even more if the criticism were true than if it weren’t true. Your call for “civility” allows for Bush and the other leadership in the Pentagon to say anything they want, to tell any lies they want, to make any attacks they want on the motives of their critics. According to you, nothing they or their supporters wish to say should be off limits, because it all “supports the commitment of our soldiers”.
    On the other hand, according to you, critics of the Bush war policies, EVEN ACCURATE CRITICISM, undermines our soldiers. Saying that we are losing, EVEN IF TRUE, undermines our soldiers. Saying that we are making things worse, EVEN IF TRUE, undermines our soldiers. Saying that we are losing Afghanistan because of our stubborn persistence in Iraq, EVEN IF TRUE, undermines our soldiers.
    According to you, no citizen should say anything tending to call the wisdom or morality of the Iraq war into question, because raising such questions might undermine the commitment of our soldiers, even if everything the citizen says is ABSOLUTELY TRUE.
    So your rules of “civility” are based not on whether what someone says is true or untrue. According to you, even truth doesn’t confer a right to speak. The right to speak is dependent entirely on whether or not the speaker supports a particular set of policies. Your rules of “civility,” allow for speech that supports your viewpoint and condemns speech that undermines your viewpoint. How convenient.
    Of course, you don’t really care anything about civility. You are simply a coward who wishes to suppress other viewpoints. If you have good arguments (or any arguments) to support the war, fine, make them. If they’re sound, they’ll stand up and gain support. If they’re unsound, though, they are likely to lose support (as, indeed, they have).
    But you are too cowardly to make the arguments and have them tested against the arguments of other people. Instead, you avoid the substance of the arguments entirely, setting forth a system of rules that shields your arguments from dispute by casting aspersions on the patriotism of those who would question your arguments.
    And NOW, not only do you degrade yourself by using our soldiers as a shield to protect your viewpoint from contrary arguments, you now call on God to shield your viewpoint from contrary arguments!
    You can talk as much as you want about the various rules that you claim the Bible sets forth which shield you from criticism, but somehow allow you to impugn the patriotism of your critics. But I can’t help being reminded of what Claudius said in “Hamlet”:
    My words fly up, my thoughts remain below.
    Words without thoughts never to heaven go.

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  66. Mary Rosh

    Paul, it looks like Warthen has only about 10 commenters, so he can’t afford to alienate anyone. And he has no moral right to ban anyone for incivility.
    Look at his March 31 post. He suggests that critics of the war are motivated solely by hatred of Bush. He says “War/Bush opponents have may have succeeded in infecting a majority with despair and defeatism.” He calls on people to “love your country enough to support its crucial mission in Iraq.”
    He assumes that his viewpoint is correct and that opposition to his viewpoint is based not on an analysis of the situation and a reasoned disagreement with his conclusions, but on despair and defeatism, and he suggests that failure to support the “crucial mission in Iraq” is based not, for example, on a belief that the mission is not in fact crucial, or on a reasoned belief that the “mission” cannot be accomplished. No, he suggest that failure to support “the crucial mission in Iraq” is based on not loving America enough.
    And, of course, as always, he hides behind the troops. He says that supporting the troops isn’t enough, we have to support the goals they give their blood, sweat, and tears for – in other words, Warthen’s goals, the goals he dreams up while sitting on his sofa watching Thomas Friedman bloviate on TV about how Europe hates the U.S. (as an aside, someone who hides a drunk’s car keys doesn’t do it out of hatred).
    Well, our troops DON’T give their blood, sweat and tears for any particular goal. They give their blood, sweat and tears for America. The civilian leaders set the goals, and they give them to our troops to carry out. Our troops are not committed to any particular goal. They are committed to the idea of carrying out whatever goal they are given.
    This is a crucial distinction, one that Warthen and the other chickenhawks and freeloaders try to gloss over. If our troops are given X to do, they will strive as hard as they can to do X. If, subsequently, they are given not-X to do, they will strive just as hard to do not-X. Our troops are not committed to the goal of X, and they are not committed to the goal of not-X. They are committed to ACCOMPLISHING THE GOAL THEY ARE GIVEN TO ACCOMPLISH, whatever that goal may happen to be.
    It is up to us, as citizens, to judge and influence the goals they are given to accomplish. Warthen seeks to short-circuit that analysis by assuming that his views are the only correct one, and impugning the motives of those who question his views.
    And this viewpoint is particularly interesting, given the fact that a majority of Americans now opposes Warthen’s viewpoint. A couple of years ago, they were pretty much in agreement with Warthen’s views, but the arguments of the naysayers, supported by the unfolding evidenced that everything the naysayers have said has been 100% right, have turned a majority of the American people against Warthen’s views.
    Warthen would have you believe that this turning away represents despair and defeatism. He refuses to credit the possibility that a majority of the American people have analyzed the situation and have come to different conclusions than he has. Instead, he heaps pejoratives upon them.
    You can call for civility as much as you want, but you are not reading closely enough. A careful reading of what Warthen has said is that he argues almost exclusively by casting aspersions on the motives of others. He seeks to short-circuit the analysis by assuming that agreement with his viewpoint is the only legitimate position, and that failure to recognize his wisdom is based on various deficiencies of the opponent.
    Warthen is a liar and a hypocrite who is unwilling to face up forthrightly to the arguments of his opponents. He sits on his sofa, endlessly dreaming up fantasies that impose untold costs on the United States. But he is unwilling to bear the costs of those fantasies.
    Arguing about the “incivility” of his opponents is risible. If Warthen wants me to quit calling him a worthless piece of garbage, he needs to quit BEING a worthless piece of garbage. He needs to actually make an argument in favor of our continued presence in Iraq, rather than take the desirability of our continued presence as a given and cast aspersions on the patriotism of those who do not take it as a given.

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  67. Lee

    How about and explanation from the Democrats who voted overwhelmingly in the 1990s to “bring about regime change in Iraq by any means possible”?
    Clinton made 32 speeches saying he was dropping 80,000 tons of munitions on Iraq to destroy their weapons of mass destruction which were being concealed from the UN inspectors. Where is the list of those sites, and the followup inventory of the actual destruction?
    Since Clinton’s bombing of Kosovo only hit less than 8% of targets, I seriously doubt that he destroyed all of Saddam’s WMD.

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  68. Herb

    OK Mary, you have given me ample evidence Proverbs 26:4 applies here, and I will write no more. (Or as Mike wrote, “don’t feed the trolls”). In fact, I will not even read your postings, since, though you may at times have legitimate arguments you cannot refrain from trashing everyone who disagrees with you, in the process of which, you only really trash yourself. I don’t need trash; I throw it out on a regular basis.
    In the meantime, I will continue to learn from those whose viewpoints I disagree with, but who can be, and normally are, respectful. That runs the gamut of the political spectrum, from Lee all the way over to RTH (except for his “pile of —-“).
    For the rest of us: Interesting; our pastor yesterday gave his sermon on Genesis 4 and the Cain and Abel story: “Cain, the world’s first sociopath.” It seems to me that Mary is showing sociopathic tendencies, one of the main ones which is no conscience or remorse whatsoever. 4% of the US population is estimated to be sociopathic. I’m not saying Mary is, but Stout’s 8th principle certainly seems to apply. Any psychologists among us?

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  69. Paul DeMarco

    Mary,
    Although I’m more likely to agree with Brad than you on the issues, I certainly have no trouble with expressing legitimate objections to the war. I think your distinction between the troops (who are obligated to do as they are commanded) and the Comander-in Chief is valid.
    The Iraq war has been about regime change/democratization from the beginning. Bush either vastly and foolishly underestimated the cost and time involved, or more likely, knew what our mission would entail but failed to prepare tha American public because the country would have been unlikely to support a war costing hundreds of billions and lasting five or more years. I forsee that the cost will exceed a trillion dollars and that we will be in Iraq for at least a decade. And I disagree with Brad that opponents of the war should self-censor in the interest of national unity and to prevent “defeatism.” I think all patriotism requires is that you express your opinion fairly and with what you feel to be the best interests of America at heart. So, on these points we agree.
    But on civility, you language is so caustic that it’s hard to associate with you. It’s fine to disagree with someone’s point of view. Perhaps you believe that Brad’s view of the war is “worthless piece of garbage” (although even to refer to someone’s opinion this way I believe crosses the line of decency). But it is repugnant to call Brad or Herb or anyone else a worthless piece of garbage or a liar or a coward or a hypocrite. Would you call them that to their faces? Unfortunately, the anonymity of a blog seems to encourage hyperbole/trash talk. You have no knowledge of any fellow bloggers motivations. I suspect Brad et al think deeply about the opinions they express on this blog and I am not inclined to question their sincerity or sanity. So let’s stick to the issues which I think we are all more than happy to debate.
    Herb,
    Peace Brother. Don’t give up on Mary yet.

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  70. Mary Rosh

    Paul, you still need to look more carefully at what Warthen said. You say this about me:
    “I think your distinction between the troops (who are obligated to do as they are commanded) and the Comander-in Chief is valid.”
    I would say that the troops freely and enthusiastically choose to do as they are commanded, rather than merely that they are obligated, but you understand my point, which is that the commitment our troops make is to America and to a particular set of obligations, rather than to any particular policy.
    You then go on to list some of the disasters flowing from the Iraq policy.
    But about Warthen, you only say this:
    “And I disagree with Brad that opponents of the war should self-censor in the interest of national unity and to prevent ‘defeatism.'”
    You still aren’t paying close enough attention to Warthen’s arguments, and to what he’s trying to do. He’s trying to shut down opposition by impugning the patriotism of those who disagree with him. “Defeatist” means this:
    “A person who expects or is excessively ready to accept failure.”
    OK, so look again at what I have quoted above:
    “War/Bush opponents may have succeeded in INFECTING a majority with DESPAIR and DEFEATISM.” Think about the breathtaking hubris of this, and the contempt it expresses for the most important ideals on which America was founded. Warthen’s opponents have argued for the last 4 years, and they (and events) have succeeded in winning the American public over to their side of the argument.
    But to Warthen, this is not a legitimate outcome. To him, his opponents have not argued, they have not reasoned, they have not marshaled facts and evidence, they have not pointed to events. No, to him, they have INFECTED a majority with DESPAIR and DEFEATISM.
    This is how Warthen reacts to losing an argument. To him, his opponents are not only mistaken (as a majority is certainly capable of being mistaken). No, to him, the arguments of his opponents are not legitimate, and their motivations are malign. Remember, he suggests that opposition to the war is based solely on hatred of Bush. He claims for himself a monopoly on patriotism, and denies the good faith of his opponents.
    Look again at this:
    “Love your country enough to support its crucial mission in Iraq.”
    What does that say to you? What is Warthen saying here? How is he implicitly describing people who don’t support the Iraq war?
    Who supports the Iraq war, according to Warthen?
    People who love their country enough to support its crucial mission in Iraq.
    Now, what’s the converse of that? According to Warthen, who doesn’t support the Iraq war?
    People who don’t love their country enough to support its crucial mission in Iraq.
    What kind of argument is that? What kind of “civility” is that? Why should I put up with that kind of insult for one second?
    And think about this, in light of my analysis of the commitment our troops make, and your acceptance of that analysis:
    “Don’t just ‘support the troops’; that’s a cop-out. Support what they’re doing, the goals they give their blood, sweat and tears for. They deserve that much. So do the rest of us.”
    Look at what he does. Look at the way he hides behind our soldiers. Look how he conflates support for our soldiers with support for his point of view. According to him, we have to support his viewpoint in order to fully support the troops. His presentation of the issue is dishonest, as are so many of his arguments and statements.
    He is not calling on us to support what our troops are doing. He is calling on us to support what they have been GIVEN TO DO.
    He is not asking us to support the goals our troops give their blood, sweat and tears for. He is asking us to support the goals (his goals) they have been CALLED ON to give their blood, sweat, and tears for.
    When Warthen sat down to frame his argument, he was faced with a choice of how to frame it. Two gates before him: a wide gate, leading to a broad road; and a strait gate, leading to a narrow road.
    He chose as he has always chosen.
    Think about the claim he was making, and tell me if you can read it any other way than this:
    “If you don’t support the war, you don’t support our troops”
    ?
    Now, you close by saying, let’s stick to the issues. What I want to know is, why do I and the other opponents of the war have to stick to the issues, while Warthen and Herb get a pass?
    Both Warthen and Herb call opponents of the war unpatriotic, and essentially their arguments don’t have anything to do with the issues. Their arguments consist of, on the one hand, saying that their opponents are unpatriotic and don’t support our soldiers, and on the other hand, crying about the “incivility” of their opponents.
    Why should I put up with that? Why should I tolerate having my patriotism impugned? Why should I respond to insults by “sticking to the issues.”
    No, when someone avoids the issues, and instead tries to wrap himself in the American flag (as Warthen does) and the Bible (as Herb does), it’s time to call him out for what he is. I’m not calling Warthen’s arguments worthless pieces of garbage (although, I think that’s a pretty good assessment of them). I’m calling Warthen himself a worthless piece of garbage. And yeah, I’d say it to his face. He has been spinning out these fantasies for years, none of them have come to pass, and he has no answer for it except to cast aspersions on the patriotism of those who predicted, accurately, over 3 years ago that Warthen’s fantasies were nothing but a pipe dream.
    WE WERE RIGHT. Why should “civility” oblige me to listen quietly to insults from Warthen when I WAS RIGHT AND HE WAS WRONG?
    Why shouldn’t “civility” oblige HIM to stick to the issues and to refrain from insults?

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  71. Mary Rosh

    Ha ha, Herb, you don’t mind lecturing others on what the Bible says we should do, but you sure don’t like following its injunctions yourself. It didn’t take you long after quoting Matthew 5:22 to me to ignore it yourself.

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  72. Paul DeMarco

    Mary,
    You were doing so well until that third to the last paragraph. You argue quite cogently that the it is not unpatriotic to criticize the President about the war. And I think you can do that without undermining the troops.
    Brad’s column is a bit overblown and I don’t agree with his main thesis that considering when to pull out of Iraq is “utter madness.” (and emoldens the terrorists and prevents our allies from ever depending on us in the future, etc.) An exit strategy should have been developed before we ever set foot in Iraq and it certainly makes sense to proceed from here with some sense of how much longer we will remain.
    But just as Brad criticizes Bush sharply for many of his other policies I think he recognizes that Bush is also vulnerable to criticism about how he is conducting the war. And I doubt Brad would assault your patriotism for expressing that criticism.
    As for who is right. I don’t think we know. It is still possible (though not probable) that Iraq will become a stuach democratic ally and help stabilize the Mideast.
    But if you are right and Brad et al are wrong, then your reward is..well, that you were right and helped change people’s opinions in the right direction. But no one is going to listen to you with an open mind if you continue the “worthless piece of garbage” routine. Please drop that language so that your message will not be lost in the insults. None of us has a lock on the truth, so it befits us all to be humble, because our chance to be wrong will soon come.

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  73. Mary Rosh

    Paul, you are addressing what is, sadly, a side issue – whether I was right or wrong in my criticism of the war, and whether or not my criticism was well supported. I agree that I touched on such issues, but they were not central to my discussion, which was an analysis of Warthen’s “arguments.” You say this:
    “I think he recognizes that Bush is also vulnerable to criticism about how he is conducting the war. And I doubt Brad would assault your patriotism for expressing that criticism.”
    If you are saying what I think you’re saying, you are suggesting that Warthen should be allowed to define the grounds on which Bush should be criticized. I don’t merely criticize Bush for how he is conducting the war, I criticize him for getting into it in the first place, and for failing to acknowledge that he needs to figure out the least damaging way to withdraw from Iraq. Warthen did and does constantly impugn my patriotism for expressing such views.
    And that’s my point. Not that the war is right or wrong, not that Bush should be criticized for this or that. My point is that Warthen’s style of “argument” – that of assuming that only his view is correct and consistent with support of America – is wholly illegitimate and unAmerican.
    LOOK again at my analysis of one of the things he says:
    “Love your country enough to support its crucial mission in Iraq.”
    What does that say to you? What is Warthen saying here? How is he implicitly describing people who don’t support the Iraq war?
    Who supports the Iraq war, according to Warthen?
    People who love their country enough to support its crucial mission in Iraq.
    Is there anything the matter with my analysis? Is that or is that not Warthen’s meaning? Now, what kind of argument is it to say that people who disagree with Warthen disagree because they don’t love their country enough to agree with him? HOW is that argument in any way legitimate? WHAT is that argument other than a shield to deflect criticism, to claim a special position for himself and to cast his opponents as illegitimate?
    Why should Warthen be allowed to get away with that, while I am restricted to discussing the issues? If it’s OK for Warthen to attack my patriotism for criticizing the war, while I am limited to discussion of whether the war is a good or a bad idea, he wins. Because no matter how sound my criticism is, if he is allowed to attack it by saying “well, you shouldn’t say that because it’s unpatriotic”, I am silenced.
    I am trying to force Warthen to argue on the same ground as everybody else – to argue on the basis of whether his point of view makes any sense. If he does that, the superior argument will win.
    If Warthen’s view is allowed to prevail, only his view can win, because only his view is afforded legitimacy. That’s the core of Warthen’s argument – people who disagree with him are unpatriotic.
    Should he be allowed to make such an argument without being called out for it?
    That’s my question. Answer that question. If you reply again with an analysis of whose central argument in support of the war is correct or incorrect, I will (politely) ignore that analysis, but will pose my question again and again until you answer it or get bored and quit responding.
    Here’s the analysis I’d like to see from you:
    Does Warthen suggest at any point that those who oppose our continued presence in Iraq are unpatriotic?
    Does Warthen suggest at any point that support for our soldiers requires support for his viewpoint that the war must be continued?
    If not, do the analysis to show why not. If yes, then answer this question:
    Why should Warthen be allowed to make that kind of argument while I restrict myself to arguing about whether our continued presence in Iraq is justified?
    I think you are too attached to the idea of civil discussion, not really taking into account that there is a large group of people for whom calls for civility are nothing but a way for them to avoid discussion of the issue and instead to complain about their opponents.

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  74. Dave

    Mary, you actually wrote a civil post. Paul has accomplished nearly the impossible. But Mary, you need to read Peggy Noonan’s definition of what a patriot really is all about. I will try to add that link later.

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  75. Lee

    The policy on Iraq has not changed from what it was on paper under Clinton. Bush has the will, courage, and ability to carry out that policy.

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  76. Paul DeMarco

    Mary,
    You go, girl! Nary a discouraging word in your last commentary. But all the more effective. Now your readers can take off our flak jackets and really hone in on what you are saying.
    So when Brad says, “Love your country enough to support its crucial mission in Iraq”, (BTW, did he really say that, I reread his column and couldn’t find that quote) you can challenge him just as you have done now.
    It’s not a question of loving my country. I believe you can love your country and make a strong argument against our intervention in Iraq. You don’t have to let him dictate the terms of the debate. Don’t give an inch. Just be reasonable and turn off the scream machine.
    I think it best that none of us question the other’s patriotism. You feel Brad has done this to you and you don’t like it. And yet in your first post on this string, you end by claiming Brad, “fundamentally…doesn’t care about America.”
    I think it’s safe to assume that we all care about America and,indeed, must live in it together. If we keep that thought foremost, our discussions will be more fruitful.

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  77. Mary Rosh

    Paul, It was in another column, look at a column he wrote on March 31.
    See, you are still not getting it.
    It’s not enough to say that I should continue to argue against the Iraq war, even though Warthen impugns the patriotism of people who argue against it. Warthen’s argument is fundamentally pernicious. I have carefully explained to you how questioning the war is not unpatriotic, because you are seeking understanding. You are not making an argument based on the idea that people who oppose your views are unpatriotic.
    Now that I’ve explained how criticizing the war is not unpatriotic, and you apparently accept that, and I’ve explained to you how Warthen has accused people who oppose of being unpatriotic, and you apparently accept that analysis, I’m trying to take you to the next step of the analysis – to accept the proposition that this style of argument by Warthen is wholly illegitimate and fundamentally unAmerican and cowardly.
    Warthen’s constant accusations of unpatriotism on the part of people who oppose his views have the effect of keeping him from having to defend his views honestly. The conversation shifts to whether or not one can be a patriotic American while opposing the war he supports.
    What possible reason could he have for trying to short-circuit the discussion like that, other than cowardice?

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  78. Herb

    I said I wasn’t going to read any more of Mary’s postings, but Paul and Dave’s comments piqued my interest. Great improvement, I must say, and I would like to retract my boycott. Now I can listen and learn from Mary’s position as well.
    Mary, I could defend my use of Scripture, but will refrain from so doing. I am really not trying to win an argument, though it may have seemed so. Thanks to both you and Paul for continuing a worthwhile and important debate in an appropriate manner. And thanks to Paul especially for a lesson I have received in not giving up so soon on another human being.

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  79. Dave

    Mary, who cares about the style of the argument. What I want to know is, what would it take for you to support going to war? Can a terrorist or terrorist regime do ANYTHING that would bring you to support military action?

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  80. Mary Rosh

    Dave, the style of the argument is important; the question is, is the argument an honest argument based on real discussion of the issues, or is it a dishonest argument where you are afraid to defend your own position, but instead attack the patriotism of your opponents, like you, Warthen, and all the other chickenhawks, cowards, and freeloaders do every day.
    In order for me to support military action, it would take a situation where a threat to the United States existed such that the costs and risks of military action were outweighed by the costs and risks posed by the threat.
    I might ask you a question. What would it take for you to bear some of the costs of the course of action you advocate? Is there ANYTHING that would cause you to step up and bear part of the burden you wish upon others, even to the extent of simply paying your fair share of taxes, rather than taking handouts paid for by the taxes of better Americans than you’ll ever be?

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  81. Paul DeMarco

    All,
    I think this string has run its course so I’m moving up to cigarette taxes. I think evryone has made their positions clear. Maybe no minds were changed but perhaps some perspectives were broadened.
    Mary, I’m tellin ya, the more restraint you can muster the better. Everytime you want to type chickenhawk/coward/freeloader just count to ten and stick to your argument.
    BTW, what’s with the Mary Rosh psuedonym. I think your posts are suffering from your anonymity. I use my real name to help hold myself accountable for what I post.
    See y’all at cigarette taxes!

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  82. Mary Rosh

    Paul, my argument (which I have supported pretty well, I think) is not that the war is justified or unjustified. I have discussed that at other times. My present argument IS that Warthen et al. are chickenhawks, cowards, and freeloaders. They are chickenhawks because they advocate a costly war that they are unwilling to fight in or otherwise sacrifice for, in order to advance an ill-defined fantasy of American hegemony. Warthen thinks that once he has said “democracy is good,” the analysis is over. Well, I think democracy is good, too. I also think that everyone in the Middle East should have a pony. Believing that democracy is good, or that having ponies is good, doesn’t justify going to war to bring about those goals without doing a great deal of further analysis that neither Warthen nor any of the other chickenhawks in or out of the Pentagon has done. They urge horrible sacrifices on others in order to achieve goals of their own, without properly evaluating the costs or achievability of those goals.
    They are cowards because they are afraid to defend their points of view, and resort instead to impugning the patriotism of their opponents.
    They are freeloaders because they don’t pay their share of federal taxes.
    q.e.d.
    Oh, and what on earth has my identity got to do with my argument? You can evaluate the argument based on how well supported it is. The only question you need to ask yourself is, how persuasive is the argument?

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  83. Capital A

    Mary Mary Always Contrary, I think these two have a crush on the fiery Red Sonya whose words they see before them. They’re daring to peek behind the mask even!
    Tell ’em to go have a cigarette.
    Can’t we all just have a moment of levity and anxiously await Mr. Warthen’s 42nd iteration of an I(llegal)raq War/Bushbaby related thread?

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  84. Dave

    Mary, in answer to my question about what could ever happen to the US to bring you to support war, you wrote “In order for me to support military action, it would take a situation where a threat to the United States existed such that the costs and risks of military action were outweighed by the costs and risks posed by the threat.”

    This is the kind of answer that loses elections for pointy headed liberals. Almost like John Kerry who said first we would have to pass a “Global Test” before considering military action. How about simply Protect and Defend the US and it’s citizens against all threats. We don’t care about costs. Only a CPA or bean counter would even think of an answer like that. You deserve a Yoy and even a double Yoy for that answer. And I will say it again, weaklings should never be in charge of our government and especially the military.

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  85. Lee

    People who lie about Saddam and the terrorists not being so bad, not being such a threat, and about our troops being evil, are indeed unpatriotic and seditious.
    Instead of denying their attitude, they should have the courage to explain their hatred for America.

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  86. Mary Rosh

    Dave, your stupidity, lack of education, and shiftlessness prevents you from realizing this, but the word “costs” includes not only financial costs, but loss of life of our soldiers, injuries of our soldiers, risks of strengthening our enemies, increased risks of terrorism, and every other condition that might act to the detriment of the United States.
    If you’re too stupid to understand the idea of cost, let me put it this way. I support military action in all cases in which military action leads to a greater benefit to the US, or a lesser harm, than the failure to take military action.
    And of course, you cannot argue honestly; it’s not in your nature. You say “protect and defend the US and its citizens against all threats. That, in and of itself, does not necessarily equate with military action. You try to slide unnoticed from a more controversial position (that of taking military action in any particular case) with a position that is generally accepted (the abstract principle of defending and protecting the US). Of course everyone supports the principle of protecting and defending the United States. The question is – how is it to be done in any specific case?
    Of course you don’t care about costs. You don’t care about the money spent, the lives lost, the harm to United States interests. That’s because you don’t pay any of the costs. You are a coward, a weakling, and a freeloader. You advocate military action for one reason and one reason only – so you can sit on your sofa, congratulating yourself for your patriotism and condemning opponents of the Iraq war, while at the same time collecting handouts paid for by their tax dollars.

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  87. Herb

    [Sigh] Well, it was good while it lasted. At least we haven’t seen the “worthless piece of garbage” bit.

    Reply
  88. Mary Rosh

    Herb, I notice you have not one word to say about Dave’s attack on me, or Lee referring to people who disagree with him as “unpatriotic and seditious,” and as “hating America.” So it’s only people who disagree with you who should be bound by rules of “civility,” eh?
    I haven’t replied to your post above yet, but let me say this:
    I think you should quit worrying about me and start worrying about yourself. Think about whether it’s right for you to attack people like Senator Hollings, suggesting that he doesn’t support our troops. Consider the reasons that you argue not that he’s wrong, but instead that he shouldn’t express his view.
    What reason could you have for wanting to not to refute his arguments, but to suppress them, other than cowardice?
    And oh yeah, it doesn’t seem like you’re trying to win an argument. It seems like you’re trying to avoid an argument that you’ve lost, by painting your position as the only legitimate position and saying that the positions of others should not be heard.
    And I’m glad you didn’t defend your abuse of scripture. You shouldn’t quote scripture at someone one minute and then violate the SAME scripture the next. If you stop abusing scripture the way you have, you may yet escape the fate of the people depicted here:
    About us now in the depth of the pit we found
    a painted people, weary and defeated.
    Slowly, in pain, they paced it round and round.
    All wore great cloaks cut to as ample a size
    as those worn by the Benedictines of Cluny.
    The enormous hoods were drawn over their eyes.
    The outside is all dazzle, golden and fair;
    the inside, lead, so heavy that Fredericks’s capes,
    compared to these, would seem as light as air.
    O weary mantle, for eternity!
    We turned to the left again along their course,
    listening to their moans of misery.

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  89. Dave

    Mary, that prose you entered above is actually very symbolic of you, the Queen of Gloom and Doom. I don’t think I have seen a single post where you are happy or positive about anything. This list will cheer you up:
    1. Iraq military beginning to take command against insurgents.
    2. 70% of Iraqis are supportive of the overthrow of Saddam and believe a better life is ahead.
    3. Stock market hitting all time highs.
    4. US unemployment nearing record lows.
    5. Inflation is moderate and interest rates are reasonable.
    6. Security council is finally wising up about Iran and its threats.
    7. No attacks from terrorists on US soil since 9-11.
    I could go on but those seven items arent part of “turning left and listening to their moans of misery”. So cheer up and be grateful you live in the greatest nation ever and life is good. It’s all about attitude.

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  90. Mary Rosh

    Dave, it’s not prose.
    “1. Iraq military beginning to take command against insurgents.”
    Yeah, how’s that going?

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  91. Mary Rosh

    Lee, maybe there was a Clinton Recession in whatever shantytown you live in, or in the Bizarro world that exists only in your D.T. hallucinations, but in the real world where people work for a living, the Clinton years were 8 years of peace and prosperity.

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  92. Dave

    Mary, you should spend some time reading publishings that are truthful and avoid the Wash. Post and NY Times for a while.
    See US Military and Iraqi Army Success Against Insurgents!

    Also, I agree Bill had lots of strange pieces during his 8 years and Hillary, through her unethical book deal, enjoyed real prosperity.

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  93. Herb

    [sigh again] Mary, there is a fundamental difference between using an adjective and a noun. Describing an action as “seditious” or even a person with such a trait is an entirely different thing from naming her/him a coward, which is is basically character assassination. You’ll notice that I do not engage in it with you.
    The exception which you have been joyful to point out is my quoting of Proverbs 26:4. I am not, however, calling you a fool, but rather trying to show that your refusal to learn anything from anyone who does totally share your viewpoint is characteristic of such. Matthew 5:22 is balanced by verses like Matt. 7:6 — which presupposes judging. In fact, we are told in certain passages to judge in the sense of telling people what God says. Which is why any evangelical Christian must, in sharing the Gospel, tell people (including themselves) they are sinners (which is actually the worst and harshest label of all).
    There is no point in answering your points, as you would never concede it if I did. But I have been fool enough to try; rest assured I have learned and will not try again.
    I’ll certainly be ridiculed for this, but I’ll write it anyway: God loves you, Mary (or Sonya, or whoever you are), along with all the other people on this blog. None of whom are “a worthless piece of garbage” as far as He is concerned.

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  94. Capital A

    Herb, the reimagined (in the 70’s) Red Sonja (originally Sonya) is a flame-haired, sword-swinging valkyrie of a woman who spared no one (especially men) her wrath. The character was an original creation of Robert E. Howard who also gave us that fabulous Phillistine Conan.
    I have never met Mary Roth, but I felt the analogy was apt. Her aim and strokes have certainly been true concerning you, though her blade a bit blunt, I’l admit.
    Herb, do you ever read anything that features pagans as protagonists?

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  95. Herb

    Capital A, I’m working on a dissertation alongside regular workload, so not much time for any outside reading. I prefer history and biography, but if you are offering suggestions, I’m open for good stuff. Spare me Bertrand Russell though.

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  96. Herb

    Oh, and Capital A, I agree with Paul that this thread has gone on long enough. See you at cigarette taxes etc.

    Reply
  97. Mary Rosh

    Dave, you say this:
    See US Military and Iraqi Army Success Against Insurgents!
    If the Iraq war was really going well, there wouldn’t be any such web page. There’d be no need to desperately trumpet anything and everything that could be made to look like an accomplishment.
    “Do you believe in fairies? Oh, say that you believe! If you believe, clap your hands!”
    –J. M. Barrie

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  98. Lee

    The claim that the last recession started under Clinton is absolutely true. To deny this is not only to blame Bush for a problem he didn’t cause, but to deprive him of the credit for fixing it with effective policies — which is exactly why the Left is so eager in this case. Here, however, are the facts:
    The unemployment rate bottomed at 3.8 percent in April 2000, and started deteriorating steadily from there (during the Clinton administration).
    The fed funds rate — the overnight interest rate administered by Alan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve — peaked at 6.5 percent in 2000, and had to be lowered in an emergency move on January 3, 2001, “in light of further weakening of sales and production” (during the Clinton administration).
    As the chart below shows, GDP growth fell off a cliff in the third quarter of 2000 (during the Clinton administration). Despite the shock of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, growth started to revive in the fourth quarter of 2001 (during the Bush administration).
    Economists who originally said the economy finally slid into a negative growth rate in March 2001, 5 weeks after GW Bush took ofice. Then they revised that and said it was in the fall of 2000. NBER President Martin Feldstein said, “It is clear that the revised data have made our original March date for the start of the recession much too late,” but he did not offer a different date.

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  99. Dave

    Mary, the Defense dept. has a right and a need to get the truth out. You don’t think the anti-American traitorous reporters from ABC, CNN, et. al. will actually report any good news do you? Captain Yanity documented some of the good things coming from our military presence and effort. Do you want to personally tell her she believes in fairies. That I would pay to see.

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  100. Mary Rosh

    Dave, I forgot how stupid you are. Sorry for thinking that I could refer to a piece of literature and you would understand it.
    The point of the quote isn’t belief or unbelief in fairies. The point of the quote is the idea that you can make something be true by believing in it hard enough.
    At a critical juncture in “Peter Pan,” Hook poisons Peter’s medicine. Tinkerbell darts in just as he is about to drink from the poisoned chalice, and drains the draught herself. She falls desperately ill, and when Peter is trying to figure out some way to save her, she whispers that she believes she might get well if children believed in fairies.
    So Peter calls on all the children of the world to clap their hands to show that they believe in fairies. They do, and Tinkerbell is saved.
    And that’s what you and the other chickenhawks have been reduced to – to blaming others’ lack of belief for the failure in Iraq.
    To you, all the news outlets and 60% or more of the American people are traitors because they aren’t paying attention to the “good news” from Iraq. They aren’t clapping hard enough, and if Tinkerbell dies, it will be their fault.
    Well, the fact is that Tinkerbell is at death’s door and clapping isn’t going to save her.

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  101. Capital A

    You just saved Knave (in his “mind”) the effort of actually having to read Peter Pan.
    You’re also forgetting that this is a person who would unerringly just accept the Wizard’s projected form. His ruby red state slippers are on so tightly, he’d pay no mind to the simple proof that a plain pooch’s nose could uncover. Heck, he won’t even bother to look behind a Bush.
    Ironically, perhaps the Wizard, himself, said it best about Knave and those like him in his quote:
    Why, anybody can have a brain. That’s a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the Earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain. Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts and with no more brains than you have. But they have one thing you haven’t got: a diploma.

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  102. Dave

    Interesting, Lee and I refer to facts and hard news, and Doom Queen Mary and Capital A(hole) refer to Peter Pan the Wizard. Very fitting I say. What next from the mental giants, words of wisdom from Charlie Brown? Don’t forget Rocky and Bullwinkle.

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  103. Capital A

    “Peter Pan the Wizard”?!
    Knave, you do a better job of embarrassing yourself than I ever could. Your unconscious self-parody is now taken to new heights since you’ve lost your cool. Have you even read a work of nonfiction?
    I knew you were a boor, but resulting to curse words? Children’s books may even be a bit advanced for you.
    Besides, if you think that Peter Pan and The Wizard of Oz (and all of their celulloid incarnations) are more fantastic than Fox News, then you really are hooked.

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  104. Lee

    I suppose that made you feel better, but everyone noticed that you didn’t adress the facts of the Clinton Recession.

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  105. Mary Rosh

    Lee, that’s because Dave diverted us with another of his forays into Bizarro World. I respond to your claims with this:
    I don’t pay that much attention to analyses of the sort that typically appear in the papers you read, such as the D.T. Daily, or the Shantytown Caller-Times.
    I was alive and in the United States during the Bush Recession, and I know what happened. I don’t need to read an analysis that starts with the proposition that the recession must have started under Clinton, and then determines its “facts” in light of that proposition. The proper way to proceeds is, facts first, conclusion afterward.

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  106. Lee

    You not paying attention to the facts is just one source of your inability to discuss these topics in a civil manner.

    Reply

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