Assuming consensus

One of the most interesting things about my oh-so-blue community is the residents’ assumption that we all speak the same political language, and that this language is “liberal.” Just today, with regard to tomorrow’s elections, a friend reminded me to vote for a certain someone for school board. She didn’t ask if I was planning on voting, if I knew about the candidates, or if I was looking for anything specific in a candidate. Nor did she feel obligated to explain her candidate’s qualifications. She simply reminded me to vote for her gal, confident that I was a kindred spirit who would immediately feel obligated to vote in line with her recommendation. As a matter of fact, I don’t have that feeling at all. Now that I’ve done some work reviewing materials that the school board generated, I’m quite convinced that they are dunderheads, and I’m very much not going to vote for an incumbent, no matter that she did volunteer work on the PTA some years ago.

The same thing happened at a charity event I attended this past weekend, although on a larger scale than the one-on-one I just described. During an interminable dinner of speeches, one woman interrupted her endless harangue about “the children” to say that she wears two buttons on her lapel: on that says “I love America; I hate America” and another that says “He’s not my President.” Part of the room broke into thunderous applause, but a delightful lady seated near me offered about the only wisdom that came out of someone’s mouth that evening: “I didn’t like Clinton when he was President, but I would never have said that about him. Once they’re elected, even if we don’t like them, they’re still our Presidents.” Recognizing in each other kindred spirits, we spent the rest of the evening chit-chatting away about shared values, like two happy castaways having at last discovered each other on a desert island.

I think one of the reasons I remain a crypto-conservative is because of the assumptions here. If someone were to come up and ask my opinion, I’d give it. But if someone announces to me, confident that I’ll agree, that “Bush is evil,” or “he’s not my President,” or “the War in Iraq is a disaster,” or any other bumper sticker slogan, I really don’t have anywhere to go conversationally. They’ve staked out territory that has little to do with knowledge or logic, and everything to do with an irrational dislike of anything tied to President Bush.

112 Responses

  1. It might be useful to play the diplomat. Is there ANY issue on which you disagree with Bush? Lead by mentioning those, then do the “on the other hand”, mentioning you’re not sure he’s all that bad, because of A, B, C…

  2. I know just what Bookworm means. Just about all of my social contacts are with people who simply can’t imagine anyone would not share their Bush hatred.

    Which means that any sign of disagreement provokes an almost Pod People-like reaction. Express support for Bush in a conversation at a party, for instance, and pretty soon you’re surrounded by a swarm of angry liberals, firing off arguments (and unsubtle insults) faster than one can even process them, let alone respond.

  3. Good point, Mike. I like to do the same in regard to Richard Nixon. When aging Boomers still go on a (really pathetic, here and today) rant against Nixon, I like to ask them why they hate him so much…is it because a) he got us out of Vietnam, a war started by Democrats, b) he initiated the process of missile reduction negotiations with the Soviet Union, c) he created the EPA, d) he established affirmative action, e) he was a champion of Native American rights, d) he initiated negotiations with the communist Chinese? Of course, it assumes that these ideological haters think rationally, but it does tend to deflate them quite a bit.

  4. He’s not your President, lady? They’re not my children, either.

  5. A barbed wit for JJ’s comment, Book. Would you ever saying such to those kind of people, Book?

  6. I can offer a hypothesis to explain the phenomenon you observe. My own experience is that there is a tendency for educated people to be liberal. Please, before you jump to the wrong conclusions, I’m not positing a black-and-white rule that only educated people are liberal. I am saying that, among the various populations I have experienced, the educated people tend to be more liberal than the American average, just as the religious people tend to be more conservative. Older people tend to be more conservative, and younger people tend to be more liberal. These are broad generalizations with a zillion exceptions. But they do seem to work.

    Again, this does not mean that conservatives must be uneducated. It is obvious that this site is frequented by educated people, and that some of them are conservative.

    Lastly, I’ll implore you not to demean the intellectual capacity of those with whom you disagree. If you think that Mr. Bush is a good President, I’ll disagree with you, but I won’t call you deranged or intellectually subnormal (unless you independently demonstrate such characteristics). I believe that Mr. Bush is the worst President in American history, and I can offer a reasoned case in support of that claim. I won’t attempt to cram that case down your throat, but if you choose to dismiss me out of hand, then I can only throw up my hands and mutter to myself “Curses! Yet another close-minded conservative!” I would, however, greatly enjoy a reasoned discussion with a reasonable conservative — so far, I have had very few such opportunities.

  7. Slogans, labels, mindless incantations to their idols of “progressiveness” – those are what the left uses in place of rational thought. They accept it all – as long as its source is acceptable. But reason, no matter how unassailable, from the right, and all the witches are thrown to “off.” Knee-jerk emotion will always prevail over reason with these people.

  8. Consider this blog such an opportunity, Ophiuchus.

  9. Amen! Please make your case against Bush, Ophiuchus. You will find many “reasonable conservatives” here, eager to engage in intelligent discussion. Maybe you can set a good example for our friend Greg.

  10. Ophiuchus,

    I am a conservative and as such, I begrudgingly voted for Bush (twice). These are just some of the dissapointments I received in return for my votes.

    Signing McCain-Feingold into law
    No child left behind
    Medicare prescription drug benefit
    The Dubai ports deal
    A seriously underwhelming push to reform Social Security (but he’ll be damned if he’s going to back down from giving amnesty to illegal immigrants)
    Not one pork-laden bill vetoed (an issue I believe helped the Democrats win both houses in 2006)
    Appointing friends (or trying to at least) to federal positions even though they are unqualified for the position (Alberto Gonzales and Harriet Meyers come to mind.)

    I always chided Clinton for parsing the definition of the word is–as in if one doesn’t know what the definition of is is, that person shouldn’t be President but I have to admit that one would think that after all the jokes and 6 years to learn, that President Bush would finally be able to pronounce nuclear; I suppose it’s indicative of the same stubbornness that he displayed on the illegal immigrant issue.

    In retrospect, there were only two good things to come out of the Bush Presidency and they are both sitting on the bench of the Supreme Court (and conservatives had to force one of those on him.)

    For as much aggravation as I’ve had over the last 6+ years, I have no doubt that Gore or Kerry would have been exponentially worse. And while I may have many issues with the President, I fully support his fighting the war on terror.

    I’d like to turn the coin; however, and ask you to make a good case for Al Gore or John Kerry or Hillary?

  11. kevin, I’ll not take up your offer to defend Gore, Kerry, or Clinton; I have no enthusiasm for any of them. However, I will respond to the request that I make my case against Mr. Bush. Here is the rough outline of that case:

    1. The Iraq war. This decision has produced nothing in the way of geopolitical advantage for the US. It has cost us nearly 4,000 deaths, something like 20,000 handicapped veterans, hundreds of billions of sunk costs and many hundreds of billions of future costs. This is easily the most disastrous war in American history. At least the Civil War yielded a positive result in the abolition of slavery. I am hard put to cite any positive result from this war.

    2. Structural damage to the economy. Mr. Bush’s less-taxes-and-more-spending style has catapulted the national debt into the stratosphere. The American economy will require decades to pay off the consequences of this policy. — assuming we seriously tackle it immediately after Mr. Bush’s departure.

    3. Civil rights. The Bush Administration has eroded many of the standards of personal freedom of this country.

    4. Rule of law. The President’s disdain for the rule of law, his remorseless admission of violating the law, and his use of executive signing statements to assert that he is above the law are all profoundly inimical to the fundamental spirit of a republic.

    5. Foreign policy. The Bush Administration has repeatedly showed its disdain for other countries and pointlessly offended others. Fortunately, Mr. Bush began reversing this pattern in the last year, but enormous damage has been done. American diplomatic clout is at its lowest ebb since the 1930s, and it will take decades to rebuild.

    6. Calculated violence visited upon the English language.😉

    This is only a sketch; I realize that I offer nothing in the way of evidence to support my claims. I wanted to start off with a clean overview of the case.

  12. 1) Iraq War–maybe not the best place to start the fight but the problem with the Middle East is that they respond to strength. They are not Americans (or Europeans) that just happen to live in that geographical region–they have a different mindset that was centuries in the making–an example is why they didn’t welcome us as liberators. I’d rather we show our strength (by fighting) over there as opposed to here. I believe we are making progress there however.

    2) No s***. However, I believe in less taxes AND less spending. As I stated above, I dislike the pork he signed into law.

    3) The standards of personal freedom I find that have been eroded are those associated with the freedom to learn from personal choices. Taking my money to bail out people who make bad life choices is an incredible violation of my personal freedom. We agree on the concept just disagree on what freedoms we are discussing.

    4) Rule of law–demand that Sandy Burger take the lie detector test that was a part of his sentence, hold Bill and Hillary accountable for the flurry of pardons, etc. Again, we agree but both sides are guilty so why should I pick your candidate over mine?

    5) Foreigh policy–we are an autonomous country. I do not want a leader that makes decisions based on a consensus with other countries. The decisions should be made in America’s best interest and welcome any allies who’s personal goals align with ours. Foreign policy (like economics) works best when everyone works towards their own best interest.

    6) nuculer anyone? Can’t argue there but not a real reason to have an issue with him.

    Forget the three I mentioned, make a case to who you believe would make a good President. I believe that anyone who actually would be great is too smart to run (on either side.)

  13. In retrospect, there were only two good things to come out of the Bush Presidency and they are both sitting on the bench of the Supreme Court (and conservatives had to force one of those on him.)

    That, however, is inconsistent with how Bush is stubborn. If he is that stubborn, as is proven out by how the conservatives couldn’t stop Bush from doing all the bad things you listed, then why could the conservatives get Bush to do what they wanted that one single time? It is just too inconsistent with the framework.

    This is easily the most disastrous war in American history.-O

    You should have seen how Europe was licking their lips over the American Civil War. Disastrous doesn’t even come into it for what could have happened there. However, what could have happened is not what happened, and that is because people didn’t give up or start talking about “woe is us”.

    Also, you have to consider the military side of things. A nation’s power is projected through two aspects, their economy and their military. The military is only getting better the more that they fight, just as an economy gets better with the more jobs that it can offer. What is the job of the military except to become better at wars and fighting? An experienced military capable of conducting operations, not just on paper but in reality, provides their nation with numerous more opportunities than a peace weakened military would have. Peace to the military is much like a recession to the economy. It is a natural process, but it has certain unfortunate consequences.

    4. Rule of law. The President’s disdain,/b>

    The President obeys the rule of law too much and too often. The President did not override the governor of Lousiana, when the President had the power and duty to do so since the governor was obviously a hack and a threat to the people of Louisiana. The President did not override prosecution cases against Sandy berger, the Haditha Marines, and various other incidents because the President believed in the rule of law, not the rule of a person sitting in the Presidency giving out threats and orders on who is guilty or not. It is the President’s belief in the rule of law that makes him ineffective against law breakers and those that don’t play in the rules. The same is true for terrorism, since it is the American’s belief in law that makes terrorism even possible.

    This is only a sketch; I realize that I offer nothing in the way of evidence to support my claims. I wanted to start off with a clean overview of the case.

    Facts are over-rated, since it is far better for people with political disagreements to discuss philosophy, logic, and premises. This cuts through barriers far faster.

  14. Ophiucius,

    I don’t recall “Bookworm” saying demeaning things about the liberals he (she?) was surrounded by.

    I also don’t recall that this thread was meant as an invitation to shill for the liberal viewpoint. “Bookworm” was merely stating what many of us “conservatives” encounter when living among, and befriending members of, a “liberal” community. Would the opposite be true? Absolutely!

    Also, I’m really tired of the condescending equating of “education” with “liberalism,” since it’s a canard. Intelligent, well-educated “conservatives” are not at all a rarity, and are not few enough in number to be a “minority” either.

    By today’s “liberal” standards, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and JFK would be “conservatives.”

  15. Kevin, I’m arguing the case that Mr. Bush is the worst President in American history, not the case for any particular candidate of left or right. I am arguing, for example, that the decision to invade Iraq was one of the worst major decisions made by any American President in history. It has gained us absolutely nothing and cost us tremendously.

    I too prefer less spending of all kinds, including the hidden spending associated with tax breaks. I’d like to see a dramatic reduction in entitlements and a reform of the tax system that sweeps away the mountain of special-case deductions. So we appear to be in basic agreement here.

    As to freedom, I think you’re really stretching the concept when you talk about “the freedom to learn from personal choices”. You’re on much more solid ground when you talk about the government taking your money. But this is a republic and if that’s what the people want, well, I suppose we have to go along. Still, I’d prefer to see massive reductions in government spending.

    Your tit-for-tat response regarding the rule of law is inappropriate in two ways. First, it tacitly acknowledges that Mr. Bush is in fact guilty. And second, it does not address the degree to which Mr. Bush has assaulted the rule of law. Every single President in modern American history has played fast and loose with the law — but Mr. Bush’s transgressions are of much grander scope than heretofore.

    On foreign policy, if I may extrapolate your position (perhaps unfairly), you seem to think that diplomacy is for wimps. I believe that the USA should pursue an energetic foreign policy that makes use of all its strengths to further American interests. I suspect that our differences lie in differences in assessments of our long-term interests. The big challenge facing the USA in the 21st century is the rise of China as a superpower. It won’t be that long before the Chinese GDP exceeds the American GDP, and we find ourselves on the receiving end of the same treatment we’ve been dishing out to others. I think we should be laying the groundwork to protect ourselves for that inevitability.

  16. 3. Civil rights. The Bush Administration has eroded many of the standards of personal freedom of this country.

    Yet the biggest worry of retired military generals right after 9/11 was that Americans would eagerly and willingly amend the Constitution to remove legal protections. It didn’t happen, and it didn’t happen because future attacks were suppressed, prevented, and discovered.

    Would you then prefer that the Bush Administration loosen the security apparatus so that Americans feel more endangered, and thus become more likely to amend the Constitution? America is still run by the American people, inspite of political corruption and bureacratic red tape. The real threat to the Constitution is not the Bush Administration, for they are limited by the Constitution in what they can or cannot do in addition to the fact that Executive powers are far more temporary in nature than Legislative laws. The real threat is that the American people feel threatened enough to sign over their rights due to a major terrorist attack or because such an attack was allowed to occur in order to protect civil liberties.

    You cannot protect civil liberties by allowing chaos and enemies to reign supreme. Iraq is the perfect example of potential American folly, for America gave Iraqis huge amounts of civil rights and autonomy, as much as they could. All they produced, however, was chaos, death, and thuggery.

  17. Well, it looks as if I have triggered an avalanche of commentary. I just hope that it doesn’t become a firestorm. I enjoy discussing issues with those with whom I disagree (you can’t learn anything from someone who agrees with you), but I hate arguments.

    BTW, don’t make the mistake of assuming I’m a liberal. Actually, I’m impossible to characterize, because I follow the logic where-ever it goes, regardless of what the political labels are. I get into plenty of disagreements with liberals, too — although I confess that I seem to find myself in greater disagreement with conservatives than with liberals.

    ymarsikar, I don’t see much common ground for us to use as a basis for discussion. The rule of law is my prime ideal and your rejection of it is so distant from my position that I doubt we could have a useful discussion.

    I don’t recall “Bookworm” saying demeaning things about the liberals he (she?) was surrounded by. (I sure hope that simple HTML works here)

    Well, there was this comment at the end:

    They’ve staked out territory that has little to do with knowledge or logic, and everything to do with an irrational dislike of anything tied to President Bush.

    I don’t want to make a federal case out of it — this is Bookworm’s blog — but I very much hope we can engage in an illuminating discussion without this kind of commentary.

    I also don’t recall that this thread was meant as an invitation to shill for the liberal viewpoint.

    I was responding to these two comments:

    Consider this blog such an opportunity, Ophiuchus.
    and
    Amen! Please make your case against Bush, Ophiuchus.

    I have no desire to disturb the peace and good feeling of this blog. If my comments are unwelcome, I shall happily depart. This is not my community and I do not wish to disturb it.

    Also, I’m really tired of the condescending equating of “education” with “liberalism,” since it’s a canard.

    I don’t think it’s a canard. We have no solid evidence in either direction, but what bits and pieces of evidence we have suggest that there might be some correlation between degree of education and liberal political outlook. I’d be delighted to discuss this question. Does anybody have anything solid on the matter?

  18. It goes like this, Opiochus (and your comments are greatly appreciated although I strongly disagree with them): Education creates hubris – the kind of hubris that tamps down humility. Hubris begets an attitude that any individual has the ability to engineer mankind into a better society if only the less-well intellectually endowed could be forced to appreciate the magnificence of the intellectuals’ vision for a new, improved world. This leads to Left-wing Liberalism – the logical terminus of a secular, arrogant self-image that replays itself over and over again throughout human history through “intellectuals” like Robespierre, Napoleon, Marx, Engels, Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot ad nauseum. As the adage says, a little bit of knowledge can be very dangerous. As a scientist, I suggest that the more knowledge you acquire, the more humble it should make you about what you have yet to learn.

  19. BS, MS, MBA, MSW, PhD. That would be me. Fairly educated. Fairly solid evidence of same.

    Not a liberal.

  20. Danny, you make quite a generalization when you write that education creates hubris. An old saw, that you echo, is “The more I learn, the less I know.” This suggests that education creates humility. I won’t come down on either side of the question — I have known some pretty cocky educated people in my time. In Silicon Valley, they like to say about Harvard MBAs “Never in doubt, sometimes right” and I remember working with a Harvard MBA who was exactly that way. But again, I see no basis for making a generalization that education makes a person either more or less humble, or that lack of education makes a person more or less humble.

    And your list of historical examples does not support your thesis. It’s true that Robespierre was highly educated and bloodthirsty, but Napoleon didn’t get much formal education other than officer’s school. You may disagree with Marx’s theories but I don’t think it fair to put him on the same list with historical monsters. Same thing goes for Engels — let’s differentiate between theoreticians and mass murderers. Hitler was a high school dropout; Stalin had primary schooling and was kicked out of a seminary. Mao did have higher education, as did Pol Pot. So if you want to compile a list of mass murderers, you end up with three (Robespierre, Mao, and Pol Pot) with higher education and two (Hitler and Stalin) without.

    On the other hand, if you turn it around and ask how many fine human beings had higher education, you end up with a huge list of names, including every great President of the USA (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt, if you want to be careful and restrict to guys who made it onto Mt. Rushmore) and gobs more people.

    I’m not claiming that higher education makes you a more moral person, nor do I think that lack of education makes you a less moral person. I think that higher education increases your chances of becoming liberal.

  21. JJ, that’s one. Now we have less than a hundred million more to check out…

    I suggest that we need something better than anecdotal evidence. I don’t have anything solid myself, but I’m hoping that one of the other readers has that information at his/her fingertips.

  22. Ophi, you say you “don’t like arguments” but you “follow the logic. ”

    You have thus demonstrated that you understand neither arguments nor logic, since one is composed of the other.

  23. Higher education does indeed increase your chances of being Liberal, especially if you’ve never had to turn a profit — like you work in the arts, in education, in sports, in R&D or for the govt.

  24. You are arguing, among other things, that Bush is the worst President in American history. A fairly broad statement.

    It also presupposes fairly broad knowledge on your part. In what way is Bush worse than, say, John Tyler, or James K. Polk? Or Millard Fillmore, or James Buchanan? Or Hayes, Arthur, or Benjamin Harrison?

    Speaking logically, I would be very surprised if, off the top of your head, you know even one thing any of them did – which makes a statement as broad as yours, well… just silly.

  25. He is actually not “arguing.” He is making unsupported assertions.

  26. Please don’t pile onto Ophiuchus too much. He has been blessedly polite and has been willing to engage at a factual level, rather than just throwing around insulting opinions. That makes him a welcome guest here.

    Ophiuchus, I think Danny latched onto the key issue, which is hubris. As someone ridiculously educated myself, both through the finest our American public system has to offer and through being an autodidact, I can say that I have vast experience with self-styled educated people, since I live in a ridiculously educated community. What I’ve observed, empirically, of course, is that education brings to the people in my community a sense of intellectual superiority that leads many to assume that their beliefs are correct, without the necessity of proof. That’s why I chastise them for such global statements as “Bush is evil,” or “vote for so and so,” statements they assume I’ll agree with because it is inconceivable to them that anyone could think differently from the way they think.

    To which I’ll add a couple more things: this hubris is less likely to affect engineers, who live in a world of hard physical facts, and are much more likely to break any problem down into parts. It doesn’t mean they’ll always get a workable answer. Jimmy Carter is an engineer who, to my mind, always works towards the worst possible conclusion from his facts. Indeed, if I were handing out “worst President of the modern era” awards, Carter would top my list.

    My second point is that the hubris is getting worse because American Universities are increasingly less concerned with teaching how to think and very much more concerned with teaching what to think. That means that education, which I define to mean the acquisition of information and the ability to analyze and synthesize that information, is going by the wayside. People who now say they’re educated have been programmed with correct thoughts, rather than fed facts and the tools to use them.

    Given the above, perhaps Prager would have done better to say that bad education has the potential to be worse than no education at all. Until we have a consensus about education, Dodd sounds silly touting some generic “education” as the answer to all ills. And since I think that was Prager’s point all along, I’ll continue to stand by his article.

  27. Well, let me start off by agreeing with you, Bookworm, that a bad education is worse than no education at all — in the former case, you think you know better when in fact you don’t.

    Now for some tidbits: Ellie, there are several meanings of the word “argument”; you are using the sense of “a sequence of propositions leading to a conclusion”, whereas I am using the sense of “an emotional verbal dispute”. This should resolve your concern on that matter.

    JJ, I do know some things about those presidents, (although I must confess to getting them mixed up sometimes). What’s good about those presidents is that they didn’t do anything horrendously bad. Sure, they were corrupt or incompetent, but not one of them visited anything as disastrous upon America as the Iraq War. Yes, Polk got us into a war with Mexico, but at least that war actually accomplished something. You might argue that Buchanan set the stage for the Civil War, but I’m not willing to pin the blame for that on him — the stage was set when the Constitution was written and the problem simmered for 70 years before it finally exploded. The other thing to remember is that Presidents before the New Deal didn’t have much power, and so it was really hard to wreak havoc with the country the way Mr. Bush has.

    But you really shouldn’t be surprised at how much I know about American history because you don’t know a thing about me. Don’t make assumptions. Let’s just concentrate on the logic!😉

    Bookworm, let me address your more serious point about hubris. I suggest that what you’re seeing is a community phenomenon that has nothing to do with liberals or conservatives and has everything to do with concentrating a group of like-minded people in one place. It’s obvious that you live in an academic town, and these places tend to go overboard because they don’t have a healthy mix of opinions. We all agree that universities are drenched in liberalism (a small tidbit of evidence in favor of my thesis, but not one I’d hang my argument on). It’s the homogeneity of opinion that makes people become so damned self-assured. I’ve noticed it in every community of like-minded people. I live in an interesting area that’s mostly rural, but has a colorful combination of other social elements. This pretty much keeps people on their best behavior — they seldom get into ferocious political arguments because they have no idea where the guy next to them is coming from. And it also teaches them some respect for the other side. The letters to the editor in the local paper really span the political spectrum — to everybody’s benefit, I believe. But I do know some subgroups that are dangerously closeted, such as one big church group that’s strongly conservative, quite insular, and absolutely self-righteous in their beliefs. You can see the same thing happening in the blogosphere. The sites that are exclusively liberal or conservative tend to have lots of prominent outrage directed at the other side, whereas the sites that are more balanced show less self-righteousness and more serious discussion.

    So what you’re seeing, Bookworm, is (IMO) not a demonstration of liberal hubris but of social group hubris. It can happen to anybody. Just put together an overly homogeneous community and it will happen. (And that’s one reason why the First Amendment is so important to the health of a republic!)

    American Universities are increasingly less concerned with teaching how to think and very much more concerned with teaching what to think.

    I don’t spend much time hanging around campuses, but I see no evidence of this in the recent graduates I meet. I have noticed a few long-term trends: a decline in literacy; an increase in techie knowledge with a corresponding decrease in arts and humanities; a much greater emphasis on education as a way of getting a job; and a ghastly decline in spelling skills. But I don’t see any trend towards lessened critical thinking skills among graduates.

    I maintain that we DO need to drastically upgrade our educational standards, but I don’t think that will be accomplished by throwing money at the problem. I see the problem in terms of international competitiveness — and the long-term outlook is not good.

  28. Ophiuchus,

    Yes, we probably have much common ground. I would have to agree with the above comments that calling Bush the worst President ever is a problem for me just because there are few that I think were particularly great. I’m beginning to believe that the only time I’m going to get a President who I agree with totally is when I’m elected to the office. Otherwise, I am really a single issue voter; I want Supreme Court Justices in the mold of Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito. Everything else to me is secondary. I want a government where the legislature passes laws and are then held accountable by the people through elections. Justices interpret the laws as written, not as they wish they were written. I do not want major social changes brought about by a judicial branch that serves for life. As a result, I will always vote for candidates who (I believe) support my belief of the role of the judicial branch.

    What I was saying with my earlier post, albeit indirectly, is that I honestly don’t believe Bush is any worse than Clinton; I began my part of the discussion pointing out some of the things I seriously dislike about him. However, I firmly believe the Democrat candidate in both the previous elections would have been worse and we’d have another two Ginsburgs on the bench.

    WRT Iraq, I don’t like our troops dying there but the carpet bombing of WWII is no longer an acceptable alternative and what’s more, it would be less likely to eventually win the hearts of the Iraqi people. We are making progress there and if a democratic Iraq (or at least some form of government where the people have a say in their governance) can be extablished in the Middle East, there is a good chance that people in countries like Iran will press their governments for change. That is an American interest. Diplomacy isn’t for wimps but it requires two peoples with a common goal (which reminds me of a Sting song, “I hope the Russians love their children too.”) Right now, diplomacy in the Middle East is a game where they tell us what we want to hear, do what they want in their closed societies, and laugh at the gullible infadels.

    BTW, no problem on my part with your views–I agree that preaching to the choir is rather pointless (e.g., Daily Ko’s)

  29. Kevin, I can offer two thoughts in response to you. First, you believe that Bush is no worse than Clinton. So tell me what Clinton did that was as damaging as the items I listed about Bush? Don’t just tell me about your philosophical differences with Mr. Clinton — tell me about actions that were seriously harmful to the USA.

    Second, you argue (not very enthusiastically, I admit) that some good may yet come of the Iraq war. I cannot imagine what that might be. You seem to believe that a working democracy might actually emerge. If that is your belief, let me confute it immediately. There is no way that a working democracy will emerge in Iran in the next twenty years. It’s out of the question. Why? Look at the history of the development of democracy. The original Greek democracy developed in a small society in which direct democracy was truly possible — everybody gathered in one place and thrashed it out. Moreover, the landed aristocracy was unable to assert control because wealth was generated primarily by the merchant class — whose economic interests pointed towards democracy.

    Modern democracy was an English development, It started with the Magna Carta and developed slowly for five centuries before finally flowering into the American republic. The strong political role played by the English (and American) merchant classes played an important role in the development of democracy. Other countries picked up the practice, but they needed generations to build working democracies (Japan being a very special exception to this rule) and they all boasted high literacy rates for generations prior to democratization.

    None of these conditions obtain in Iraq or any of the Islamic Middle Eastern nations. (Turkey has been working its way towards democracy for 70 years and they’re finally starting to get there.) The Iraqis are not ready for democracy. They still operate on a patronage-based system that will take generations to replace. They have no deep-seated concept of the rule of law. Thus, there is simply no hope of generating a working democracy there. When we leave, things will hold together for a few months, maybe even a year or two, then will descend into a civil war. If the Iraqis are lucky, they’ll get a new Saddam taking over quickly. If not, then they’ll duke it out among themselves, with lots of help from Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Iraqi Sunnis will be massacred and forced to flee — that’s over two million people. The Kurds might — MIGHT — be able to establish an independent state, but they’ll have to fight like the dickens to keep it. In the end, Iraq will be a Shia state, probably strongly theocratic, and a client of Iran. That’s what Mr. Bush has done. Quite an achievement, eh?

  30. Ophiuchus, Thank you, thank you, thank you and please don’t be discourange that people here want to engage with you. We have so few articulate, non-name-calling folks who disagree with us but stay to share their thoughts. I appreciate it.

    One thought on liberals and education. I think you have the cause and effect wrong. Liberals tend to be better “educated” because they gravitate to the ivory tower, while conservatives tend to be less “educated” because they gravitate to the school of hard knocks. While liberals are busy intellectualizing, conservatives are busy making the trains run on time. Incredibly broad overgeneralization, I realize, but I suspect closer to the truth than not.

  31. Yes, Don Quixote, that’s one of the strong arguments against the hypothesis that education “liberalifies”. Self-selection is one of the toughest problems to cope with in analyzing social phenomena.

    We must also remember social factors in these choices. Winston Churchill famously noted that the man who is not liberal as a youth has no heart, and the man who is not conservative in older age has no head. I myself was certainly liberal in my youth, and have certainly shifted towards the right (and in other directions as well) with the passage of time. We can surely expect that liberaldom contains a lot of young hotheads, and conservatopia has lots of crusty old farts.

    Actually, however, the most pronounced difference I note between conservatives and liberals is that liberals are much more prone to sprinkle their commentary with vulgar language.😉

  32. //So tell me what Clinton did that was as damaging as the items I listed about Bush? Don’t just tell me about your philosophical differences with Mr. Clinton — tell me about actions that were seriously harmful to the USA. //

    o Cut the military, particularly the Army, by 1/2 of what it was prior to his presidency.
    The obvious result of this is the ‘air-to-ground’ style of war that we have been forced to fight–makes it difficult to hold ground in a counterinsurgent war; there was no way to replace the experienced officers and NCOs in the past 6 years.

    o Treating terrorism: World Trade Center Bombing, USS Cole; Khobar Towers; African embassies; Somalia; as a Law Enforcement issue.
    This naturally emboldened the Islamic terrorists to attempt even more elaborate strikes while they were unpursued by military power and Intell–making this current war inevitable.

    o Turning over Military and National level intelligence to the State Department.
    We lost our Human Intelligence capability, our arabic and Urdu speakers in country and in the agencies leaving us with only signals and imagery intelligence. It was this signal and imagery intelligence that provided the information and intelligence that Saddam’s scientists were successful in producing WMD–Making this current war inevitable

    o Not enforcing UN Resolution 1444 immediately when Saddam threw out the inspectors in 1997, violated the No-Fly-Zones and sanctions.
    Saddam only continued as ‘President of Iraq’ due to a deal brokered with the US, UN and Arab Coalition. Saddam violated that deal with impunity making this current war inevitable.

    o Providing weapons and training to the KLA in Kosovo to fight the Serbs.
    We armed and trained many of the ‘foreign fighters’ we are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and the ‘tribal areas’

    o Providing the nuclear reactors to North Korea.
    Which they later used to build their bomb and sell materials and know-how to Syria and Iran. Nuclear North Korea…. Nuclear Iran…. My God.

    o Going on a ‘procurement holiday’ not funding or supporting weapon programs that we could really, really use right now.
    We lost almost a generation of defense engineers and know-how along with the consolidation of defense contractors into 3 big companies.

    o Making the Antiballistic Missile Treaty the ‘centerpiece of our foreign policy’.
    With a Nuclear NK and Iran, wouldn’t it be nice to have a robust missile defense system now?

    o Not allowing the military or other agencies to run bin Laden to ground in the Sudan or Afghanistan.
    We knew what he was up to, we knew he had the means, the financing and the will to do what he did, but we lobbed a few missiles into nowhere and called it good–making the current wars inevitable.

    He administration, as told by current events, was an absolute disaster. He sowed the wind and we are reaping the whirlwind.

    I was a Military Intelligence Officer in the 90’s and I am an engineer. I’m telling you what I saw with my own eyes…. I’m still in the National Guard.

    It’s a bad and scary situation we are in and we could see it coming a mile away. Bush, who makes me cringe when he gives a speech, is muddling through as best he can. So are we. History will be kind to President Bush.

  33. //Churchill famously noted that the man who is not liberal….//

    Churchill never said that.

    The phrase originated with Francois Guisot (1787-1874): “Not to be a republican at twenty is proof of want of heart; to be one at thirty is proof of want of head.” It was revived by French Premier Georges
    Clemenceau (1841-1929): “Not to be a socialist at twenty is proof of want of heart; to be one at thirty is proof of want of head.”

    Churchill would never say that. He was in the Boer War in his 20s. I read his autobiography–all six volumes.

    The best of the volumes is “The Gathering Storm”. It’s chilling to read the parallels between the 1930’s in Europe and the 1990’s–just substitute ‘Islamic-Fascism’ for ‘Fascism’

    His generation kicked him, and those like him, to the curb after the war….

  34. Bookworm said,
    “a delightful lady seated near me offered about the only wisdom that came out of someone’s mouth that evening: “I didn’t like Clinton when he was President, but I would never have said that about him. Once they’re elected, even if we don’t like them, they’re still our Presidents.”

    HEAR HEAR HEAR HEAR!

  35. One last thing before I go to bed:

    There’s going to be a lot less ‘educated liberals’ in the Ivory Towers since there’s been no draft to dodge in many years.

    The glut of liberal Phds and professors will die with them.

  36. Ophiuchus,

    Thanks for giving us the opportunity to have a civil debate. All of your points are legitimate and I would like to throw in my two cents.

    1) There are a few geopolitical dividends which are arguably solely the result of the invasion of Iraq.
    -Libyan nuke program revealed.
    -Oil for Food program revealed.
    -AQ Khan nuke tech for sale revealed.
    -Saddam’s incredibly gaudy taste revealed.
    There might be future benefits in having a democratic Iraq such as a devolution of power in Iran and Syria but I won’t count my eggs…etc.

    2) I agree that the spending of the Bush administration and the Republican congress was excessive but total gov’t debt as a percentage of GDP is not any higher than the early nineties and the deficit is coming down. Don’t get me started on the lax policies of the Fed but I would not lay that on Bush’s door.

    3) Examples please. Who has been affected?

    4) Same as 3. If the President has violated the law then the Democratic congress should be holding hearings with specific charges.

    5) President Bush has not changed his policies, the foreign countries have changed their gov’ts. France and Germany are much more friendly to the US.

    6) Guilty as charged. I cringe when GW talks. He always ends up sounding like he is whinging.

  37. To Ophiuchus,

    Hello and welcome! You are most welcome here!

    After the briefest of perusals, I can see that you’re a worthy debater. Though liberal… curses! 😉

    It will be a joy to see your contributions.

  38. Hi everyone…I’m back from my work day and it looks like there is a lot of catching up to do.

    Ophiochus…I didn’t want to leave you with the idea that I said that education always generates hubris (thank you for the clarification, Book)…only that it makes it more likely to develop. The question was why liberals tend to be people with higher educations. Incidentally, I don’t argue against the value of education: I may not have JJ’s stellar academic credentials but two undergraduate degrees (one in a hard science, one in a soft science), an MS in an applied science and an MBA in Finance ain’t necessarily beanbag, either.

    You made a broad statement that Bush was the worst president ever and it all seems to boil down to Iraq. Although I agree with many of Kevin’s misgivings (and more) about many of Bush’s policies, I also recognize that he has taken the offensive to the terrorists that attacked us (something Clinton studiously avoided doing, thereby encouraging more attacks and leading us to 9/11), overturned two neo-islamofascist regimes in record time at a cost of less-than 4,000 KIA (a remarkable historical achievement), and managed an absolutely stellar economy in which my retirement savings have done extremely well. Sure, we still have a lot of debt but I can blame Congress as much as the President, and our public debt:GDP ratio is still well within historically reasonable standards.

    Contrary to Hollywood’s constant anti-American rantings and those of the MSM, we are not hated around the world…among intellectuals maybe but (see above). I recently spent time in France and was overwhelmed with the love.

    During the Bush administration to-date: among major allies, we have seen the election of very pro-American leaders of Australia, Canada, Germany and France, our star shines very brightly in Africa these days (Bush has done far, far more than any President or other world leader… especially Clinton, in helping Africa, although you wouldn’t know it if you follow the MSM) and our relations with India have never been better. Our relations with Latin America are surprisingly strong due to Bush’s economic and open-trade initiatives (although you won’t read about it in the MSM), and his active support of anti-terrorist activities in Phillipines and Thailand have also won him considerable support in Southeast Asia. Our relations with the Chinese and Iranian governments may be troubled (unlike Clinton, Bush does not OK the sale of military secrets to the Chinese) but our standing with the people of those countries is very high. Russia? Well…it’s Russia.

    True, many people in other countries revered Clinton because he acted weak and debased himself (and the United States) before them. Frankly, we don’t need those types of admirers. You may disagree.

    As far as Iraq and Afghanistan go, it is far too early to tell what will happen, even if so far the news is relatively good (child mortality way down in Afghanistan, economy rebounding in Iraq, stability Iraqi Kurdistan, etc.). Your rantings about how “Arabs” and “Iranians” will never get democracy is, frankly, condescending and demeaning to those that have come to America and bought into democratic (oops…there goes the anti-democrat genetic deficiency argument), or to those Iraqis who risked their lives to vote – twice! It also flies completely contrary to the experiences of post-war Japan and Germany, which never had democratic traditions either but certainly rate as solid democracies today.

    Bush (and Secretary Rice) made it quite clear that the 9/11 attacks signaled that we could not longer accept the status quo of the Middle East – one supported by both Democrat and previous Republican administrations. So, they set out to completely change the dynamic of the Middle East, focusing on Iraq because of its historical importance in the Arab world and its (relatively) high education and professional development. It was, is and will be a gamble but it is waaaay too early to tell whether or not it will work. And, where exactly have the Democrats been with their alternative plans?

    What I object to is this Jimmy Carter-like quality of the Liberal/Left and Democrat party to throw in towel before the die has even been cast and, once it has been cast, to undermine our soldiers and our country efforts to succeed, whether it be as a crass power-grab tactic, a Tourette-like yawp of self-hatred against their own country (a la Sheehan) or in order to turn their “U.S. equals loser” -predictions into self-fulfilling prophecies.

    Tell you what, Ophie: when probably the West’s leading Middle East scholar ever, Bernard Lewis, pronounces the Iraq and Afghani conflicts a misconceived failure, I will stand up and take notice. Until then, I have no truck with those that see gain in our country’s defeat to an islamofascist movement that will only be emboldened by the Democrat/Left’s short-sighted and self-serving tactics.

    Tell me, Ophiuchus, suppose you and your fellow travelers do win this argument…do you really think that you will then be able to mobilize the citizenry and military of this country to take seriously this very serious threat to our country, once the reins of government are again under your command? What is your alternative…a smile and be nice to everybody Kumbaya policy? A curl-up in a foetal position under your desk and hope that it will go away policy?

    This Middle East gambit hasn’t played itself out yet…not nearly no how. History will have to judge GW Bush when all these events have played themselves out. But, win or lose and bottom line – I will never fault GW Bush for standing fast like a rock into the storm to dream big and doing something tangible to change an untenable Middle East situation. The Democrat alternatives, as Clinton demonstrated all too well, were recipes for the 9/11 disaster. ’nuff said.

  39. //We can surely expect that liberaldom contains a lot of young hotheads, and conservatopia has lots of crusty old farts. //

    I submit ‘Code Pink’, ‘Raging Grannies’ and the liberals in Congress contrasted by the current crop of young enlistees and ‘Red Staters’ as the counterargument to this.

    Maybe liberaltopia was ‘a lot of young hotheads’ in the 60’s, but now they are crusty old farts. The world has changed, they haven’t….

  40. There’s too much to respond to in detail, so I’ll have to concentrate on either easy arguments or crucial ones.

    Bill, you offer a few benefits of the Iraq war, such as the revelations about Mr. Khan’s nuclear activities — but some of those were not benefits of the Iraq war, they came about for other reasons and, more to the point, they’re not much to boast about. We expended nearly 4,000 lives and up to 2 trillion dollars net to learn that the Oil for Food program was corrupt?

    You ask who has been harmed by the damage to civil liberties. I would argue that we are all injured by a degradation in our civil liberties. But there have been many, many cases of innocent people subjected to official harassment by overzealous security people. The most outrageous case was the Portland attorney who was imprisoned for several months due to an FBI mistake. And there are many lesser cases of people being detained at airports, missing flights, and so forth, because of their political activities. This is not what we do in the Land of the Free.

    If the President has violated the law then the Democratic congress should be holding hearings with specific charges.

    Boy, do I agree with that! There are lots and lots of issues deserving investigation. The most critical, of course, is the admitted use of illegal wiretapping — but there are lots more. My guess is that dirt will be surfacing for years and years after Mr. Bush leaves office.

    France and Germany are much more friendly to the US
    Contrary to Hollywood’s constant anti-American rantings and those of the MSM, we are not hated around the world

    The best data on this is the work of the Pew Foundation. They’ve been doing international opinion surveys for decades now and they have established a solid database of information. I strongly urge you to read their work at this entry page. You’ll find it quite sobering. I can’t get the page to open just now — their server must be down. But their data make it quite clear what has happened worldwide. Our global prestige peaked in 2002, primarily as a result of the 9/11 attacks and the attack on Afghanistan. It plummeted in 2003 after the invasion of Iraq, and has jiggled around ever since. It is rock bottom in the Islamic world, even worse than it had been before. It has recovered slightly in Western Europe, but is still far below 2002 levels. In Asia it went down somewhat after 2003, and has not recovered much. I don’t know of any country that has a more favorable view of the USA today than it had in 2002 — and there are many that have a much less favorable view now.

    But these views are complex. All the resentment is directed at the American government. Many people in many countries, especially young people, have high esteem for American culture. Most are able to differentiate between the American people and the American government.

    I’m reconstituting this from memory because I can’t get the Pew site to respond, so if anybody wishes to correct any mistakes I may have made, I would appreciate it.

    he [Bush] has taken the offensive to the terrorists that attacked us

    Iraq had no involvement in 9/11. That’s a well-established fact. Mr. Bush is the best recruiting agent that al-Qaeda ever had. I believe that he has created more terrorists than he has killed.

    overturned two neo-islamofascist regimes in record time at a cost of less-than 4,000 KIA (a remarkable historical achievement)

    Mr. Hussein’s regime was most definitely not neo-islamofascist. It was secular and opposed to theocratic movements. Mr. Bush toppled one bloodthirsty dictator in a world full of bloodthirsty dictators. And the conquest of Iraq with “only” 4,000 KIA is by no means a remarkable achievement. Skorzeny toppled the Hungarian regime with less than a hundred men and a handful of casualties. And, as the soothsayer said, “Aye, Caesar — but not gone.” The casualties are still mounting.

    managed an absolutely stellar economy

    Wow! And you have an MBA?!?!?! Look at the long-term economics! You say that our ratio of public debt to GDP is “well within historically reasonable standards”, but I believe that this ratio is the highest it has ever been in American history — correct me if I’m wrong. Now look at the sinking dollar. Add in the exsanguination of the economy due to rising oil prices (the current estimate is that Middle Eastern instability has tacked on about $10 to the price of a barrel of oil. We import 20 million bbls per day — that’s $200 million per day of increased costs due to our Middle East policy failures.) Oh, and did I mention that the dollar is losing ground as the currency of record for an increasing number of international transactions? Economists estimate that the dollar’s privileged position gives us about 1 percentage point of GDP growth. Take that away and our GDP growth starts to look more like Germany’s. And China’s has been around 10% for years. No, I don’t think that the American economy is in good shape just now, and the falling dollar is the best indication that the rest of the world is coming to the same conclusion.

    Your optimistic characterization of our relations with various countries overlooks the fact that a number of anti-American initiatives are making headway. In South America, the Chavez regime is making some diplomatic inroads. The Chinese are setting up shop all over the world, snapping up resources and making deals that the Americans can’t get. They have even succeeded in shutting us out of at least one regional initiative. That hurts.

    Your rantings about how “Arabs” and “Iranians” will never get democracy is, frankly, condescending and demeaning

    In the first place, they’re not “rantings”, they are “assertions”. In the second place, you misunderstand what I said. I did not write that “Arabs” and “Iranians” will never get democracy. I discussed the historical factors that affect the progress of democratization in Iraq and explained why it will take generations for it to happen. If you disagree with my claims, please present your reasoning. Mudslinging only discredits your claims.

    It also flies completely contrary to the experiences of post-war Japan and Germany, which never had democratic traditions either but certainly rate as solid democracies today.

    False. Germany’s first democratic experiments began in the 1870s under Bismarck. They had elections and representatives and public debate during that period — although it was much limited. After World War I, the Weimar Republic made a serious go at democracy, but the Germans still weren’t quite ready for it. Only after WWII were the Germans able to get it working — but remember, they had 70 years of trial and error behind them. The Iraqs have absolutely NO history of democratic experiments.

    The Japanese are a very special case. The Meiji Restoration actually set up some democratic institutions, but these, as were the case in Germany at the same time, were pretty weak. One big thing that the Japanese had going for them was an extremely strong sense of the rule of law as expressed by the Emperor, who was functionally above politics. They expanded their democratic experiments well into the twentieth century, but the military took over in the early 30s and brought disaster to Japan. Then after WWII, the Emperor declared “You shall have democracy!” and the Japanese dutifully set up a democracy. They didn’t really understand how to do it, but by God, the Emperor had told them that they were going to have a democracy, and that’s what they had to do. They’re finally starting to make it work on its own. But again, it has taken generations. And there’s no Emperor in Iraq to declare “You shall have democracy!”

    they [Bush & company] set out to completely change the dynamic of the Middle East

    They sure did that. Before Bush, they were all fighting each other. Now they’re all fighting us!😉

    it is waaaay too early to tell whether or not it [the attempt to democratize Iraq] will work.

    I have presented my explanation of why the attempt to democratize Iraq will fail. Please present your reasoning.

    What I object to is this Jimmy Carter-like quality of the Liberal/Left and Democrat party to throw in towel before the die has even been cast and, once it has been cast, to undermine our soldiers and our country efforts to succeed, whether it be as a crass power-grab tactic, a Tourette-like yawp of self-hatred against their own country (a la Sheehan) or in order to turn their “U.S. equals loser” -predictions into self-fulfilling prophecies.

    You’re welcome to take that up with whatever straw men you can find. I myself have said no such things, and neither has anybody else, and therefore your paragraph is irrelevant to this discussion.

    I have no truck with those that see gain in our country’s defeat to an islamofascist movement

    Fine. If any of those people show up, by all means tell them this.

    suppose you and your fellow travelers

    Look, I don’t blame you for Adolf Hitler and I’ll thank you not to blame me for anybody else. I’ll talk about what what you write, and you talk about what I write. Fair enough?

    I will never fault GW Bush for standing fast like a rock into the storm to dream big and doing something tangible to change an untenable Middle East situation.

    The issue is not whether Mr. Bush had the courage to do something bold but whether he had the intelligence to do something right. Yes, Mr. Bush was bold — but he was also mistaken. He has expended huge amounts of American resource in an effort that ultimately will make America worse off than had he done nothing.

  41. Yammer,

    That, however, is inconsistent with how Bush is stubborn. If he is that stubborn, as is proven out by how the conservatives couldn’t stop Bush from doing all the bad things you listed, then why could the conservatives get Bush to do what they wanted that one single time? It is just too inconsistent with the framework.

    You have a poor recollection of recent history–Harriet Meyers fell on her sword and withdrew her name from consideration. Bush only picked Alito after Meyers was out of the running.

  42. Ophiuchus,

    Sorry for the delay, but from your last response, we do have a level of agreement with the differences between America and the Middle East–they are not us just over there. I agree that democracy isn’t just going to suddenly appear but a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Times have changed since the examples you listed. I believe that the internet, satellite tv, air travel, and cell phones could drastically reduce the time that a democracy could spread. Also, in the example of Iran, something like 80% of their population is under 35 so young people with access to new technology are more likely to embrace the concept of self rule. Yes there is some wishful thinking involved but sitting back and doing nothing doesn’t seem to work.

    And to my above post it’s Miers.

  43. Ophiuchus,

    These multiple thread posts get to be way to hard to follow at times.

    1) Clinton had the opportunity to take out bin Laden and didn’t–thus 9/11 occured.

    2) Clinton embarrassed the office of the President–that was the joke heard ’round the world.

    3) He was ineffective for the last year due to the the Lewensky affair–see item 1.

    4) Not responding forcefully to the first WTC bombing, the attack on the U.S.S. Cole, Somalia, etc.–see item 1

    5) The pardon flurry at the end–pardoning criminals who have donated money to the Clintons demeans the presidency.

    6) While there is no proof, I cannot believe the Sandy Berger would have risked his reputation were it not for covering for Bill Clinton (admittedly after Bill Clinton left office but it appears that Sandy is being rewarded for his loyalty with Hillary.)

    I see much of what Bush is having to do is clean up after Clinton’s mess (i.e., America’s perceived weakness by Muslim extremists.)

    You base your argument on the premise that the Iraq war is wrong which is also why other countries don’t like us. If the war isn’t wrong (as I believe), however, then the fact that other countries are upset is a non-issue.

  44. Ophiuchus,
    Having completed a tour in Iraq and now doing one in Kosovo, I have to make a couple statements in response to you.
    The following is unclassified, available to the public, and largely unreported.
    Al-Qaeda used Iraqi military facilities to train for aircraft hijacking and explosives use. The Hussein government met with and negotiated with AQ for mutual advantage while attacking their mutual enemy. At least 10 tons of chemical weapons reported destroyed by the Hussein government to the UN were discovered in Iraq by US forces after the invasion. It is unknown what was carried to Syria by over ten convoys of tractor trailers in the ten days prior to the invasion of Iraq.
    Oh, and by the way. The US is in its eleventh year of peacekeeping in the Balkans – formerly Bosnia and currently (year 9) Kosovo. The Clinton administration commitment without exit strategy has, to date, caused the deployment of more US and NATO soldiers than Afghanistan – and Iraq just passed that number. BTW; the death tolls for deployed troops were similar but the retention rates were much lower because of pay and leave issues.
    I won’t talk about my six active duty years during the Clinton administration or what they did to the intelligence community at that time.
    As to executive violation of the law and civil rights I have two words – Elian Gonzalez. Do a study; I did. The Justice Department under Clinton’s direction conducted an armed kidnapping at the behalf of a foreign power.
    Another two words regarding executive excess – Waco, Texas. Even if the Davidians were bonkers, the actions of the Justice Department and ATF were over the line. And I have friends working there that I’d take a bullet for.
    Enough rant; please take a historic context before stating worst in history. And don’t get me started on Jimmy Carter.
    SGT Dave
    “On the road again”

  45. Wow! I echo everyone else, Ophiuchus, in saying welcome to Bookwormroom. When I began my transition from an uber-liberal to an “Evil Conservative” I begged family and friends to send me all their logical arguments, websites and blogs to pull me back from the brink. What I received were Bush=Hitler cartoons and Bush=Horse’s ass jokes. I’ll continue to read your comments with interest, though I don’t agree with them, and thank you wholeheartedly for politely and cogently expressing your POV

  46. Okay, I’m really proud. I went to sleep and woke up to this bouquet of polite and intelligent debate. Thanks to all of you for making this site a truly civilized marketplace of ideas.

  47. Ophiuchus,

    Sorry but I left out two other things that Clinton did that (in my opinion) make him a worse president than George Bush:

    1) Ruth Bader Ginsburg

    2) Stephen G. Breyer

    As I state previously, I want Supreme Court Justices that apply the law as written, not as they wish it was written.

  48. First, I’d like to express my appreciation for the warm words of welcome and, even better, the cogent and intelligent points made in opposition to my own points. Yes, we disagree on many points, but for the first time in three years, I think I’ve found a place where I can learn something. This doesn’t mean that I’ll be rolling over — I expect to contest each point strongly — but not adamantly.

    So, down to business. I regret that I have not the time to address each and every point made here, but here’s a start:

    1. SGT Dave makes a number of surprising statements that he asserts to be public information. I would very much like to see documentation for those statements. If true, they change a great deal, and they also contradict a great deal of other information. But first let’s determine whether they’re true.

    2. Kevin makes the very good point that we have to start somewhere in bringing democracy to the Middle East. I agree entirely — the Middle East is a dangerous area because it is centuries behind the West politically but only a few decades behind the West in terms of weaponry. We MUST get them to modernize politically. But attacking them is not the solution. They have to undergo a lot of political evolution. You can’t evolve an otter into a dolphin by beating it with a stick.

    3. Several people list actions taken by the Clinton Administration that they regard to be destructive. I agree that these actions were deleterious to American interests. However, we need to keep proportion here. You’re comparing the Iraq War — with costs of nearly 4,000 American dead, 20,000 American handicapped, perhaps $2 trillion in long term costs, several hundred thousand Iraqi dead, and the eventual transformation of Iraq into an Iranian client state — with Mr. Clinton’s sexual antics? Come on!

    Kevin doesn’t like Mr. Clinton’s Supreme Court appointments. First, you can’t pin all the blame on him — the Republican Senate confirmed those appointments. Second, show me the bodies of people killed by these justices, the jail cells of wrongly imprisoned people — show me the actual harm. I’m not denying that a Supreme Court justice can harm the nation, nor am I minimizing such damage. I am saying that Mr. Bush’s damage to this country is patent and large, while Mr. Clinton’s damage is highly debatable and, in any case, quite small. Somebody cited the Elian Gonzalez case as an example of a violation of civil rights. In the first case, that’s false. We live by the rule of law and the rule of law said that he had to go back to this father. But even more important, how can you compare the return of one child to its father with the detention without trial of hundreds of people, or the orphaning of tens of thousands of children?

    Blaming 9/11 on Mr. Clinton is a grossly unfair. The 9/11 Commission investigated the matter thoroughly and found blame just about everywhere. A great many people, including Mr. Bush, contributed to that disaster. Let’s not single out any Americans for this national tragedy and put the blame squarely where it belongs: on al-Qaeda, Mr. bin Laden, and the hijackers.

    BTW, I heartily agree that some of Mr. Clinton’s pardons at the end of his second term were shameful. But again, I don’t consider them anywhere near as catastrophic as Mr. Bush’s actions.

    I note an interesting common thread running through the condemnations of Mr. Clinton. It seems that people are angriest at Mr. Clinton for reasons of national pride. For example, I tend to shrug off Mr. Clinton’s sexual misdeeds as stupid but harmless. Many conservatives (and I sense some in this group) are outraged by those actions because they perceive them to be an assault on American pride. I get the same feeling about conservative attitudes about 9/11 — correct me if this does not apply to you. I sense that such people are more upset because the bad guys scored a point against us than because 3,000 people died. In such thinking, we had to strike back to score ten points in retaliation, and if it costs us even MORE dead to retaliate, that is of little import. I make no claim to knowing what’s going on inside your head — I offer this as a rhetorical thought for you to consider. Please don’t answer this suggestion. Just think to yourself: to what extent am I trying to make the world a better place and to what extent am I allowing my injured pride to affect my thinking?

    Time for me to shut up and get to work. I expect to find a passel of good counterpoints when I return.

  49. Ophiuchus,

    Good point on the Republicans confirming President Clinton’s appointments. However, I believe that the process of confirmation was established in the Constitution to keep the president from nominating relatives or donors who do not have the education or experience for the position being considered (this would cover all confirmations.) The problem is that Democrats have established a litmus test as to how someone will rule on certain cases before confirming them (consider Mukasey.) I’m guessing you don’t see it this way but there have been more people (and that’s where I assume you and I would debate) killed through abortion than in the Iraq war. Even many liberal law professors agree that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided; however, President Clinton’s two appointments have supported this decision. Soldiers in combat have volunteered; unborn children did nothing to deserve their fate. I believe Republicans, no matter how much they may have disagreed with President Clinton’s appointment’s, voted soley based on their being qualified jurists. I must say that I do applaud Senator Feinstein for Mukasey since it’s a rare opportunity that I agree with her.

    Yes 9/11 commission did spread the blame but 1) what did Burger hide that the commission never saw and 2) President Bush hadn’t been in office for a year at that point. While this doesn’t absolve him of some of the responsibility, I would guess that if one looks at the entire time from the planning to the actual attack, the lion’s share would be under President Clinton’s watch. I would assign the blame weighted accordingly. He had many opportunities to assert America’s strength, only to squander them. Again, I believe much of what President Bush is doing right now is cleaning up the previous administration’s mess.

  50. Wow, Ophie…. Did you even bother to read my post?

    You asked us to respond with what Clinton did that harmed the nation and I posted a laundry list from my own personal experience as an MI Officer.

    You ignore my list and use his affairs as a smoke screen….

    Disingenuous. This is why it is pointless to debate with a lib.

  51. I’ve got to get some paying work done now, but I thought I’d throw in something about the “cost” of the War:

    Military spending is a minor factor in the overall growth of government. It was 23.2% of federal spending and 5.2% of gross domestic product in 1981. Those percentages peaked in 1987 at 28.1% and 6.1%, respectively. Defense spending fell steadily thereafter, and was just over 16% of the federal budget and 3% of GDP from 1999 through 2001. Since September 11, defense spending has climbed to 20% of the federal budget and 4% of GDP. Despite the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, both figures are lower than they were at any point during Jimmy Carter’s presidency.

  52. //But their data make it quite clear what has happened worldwide. Our global prestige peaked in 2002, primarily as a result of the 9/11 attacks and the attack on Afghanistan. It plummeted in 2003 after the invasion of Iraq, and has jiggled around ever since. //

    Yeah. They love us when we are dying….

  53. Gray, with respect, please be nice. Ophiuchus has had a SLEW of responses, not “open to the room” but specifically at him/her, and a great many arguments and points to refute. I think the whole conversation thread has proved that it is NOT pointless to debate with anyone who uses logic to back up opinions.

  54. //Gray, with respect, please be nice. Ophiuchus has had a SLEW of responses, not “open to the room” but specifically at him/her, and a great many arguments and points to refute.//

    Mine was the first response to his request. It was long, well thought out and based on actual experience.

    He skipped it and cherry picked the responses he had leftist boilerplate for….

    Disingenuous.

  55. Gary, I’m sorry that I didn’t respond to your list of points, but as you can see I am responding to a great many points and in all the hubbub I did overlook yours. Let me therefore right that wrong:

    First, I disagree with your claim that Clinton’s actions made the current war inevitable. The current war could have been avoided by a very simple decision on Mr. Bush’s part: Just Say No. He didn’t have to invade Iraq. There was no geopolitical reason for doing so, no policy advantage to be gained. Mr Bush is solely and entirely responsible for the Iraq war. Blaming it on Clinton is false.

    We armed and trained many of the ‘foreign fighters’ we are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and the ‘tribal areas’

    That’s not compatible with the information I have. Please provide some documentation on how many of the people we’re fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan were trained by American forces in Kosovo.

    Providing the nuclear reactors to North Korea

    This is not true. The North Koreans began building their weapons reactor in 1989, during the Bush Administration. Mr. Clinton signed a deal with them in which they’d shut down their nuclear weapons program in return for the US building LWRs — which are not good reactors for making weapons. The North Koreans did make some steps towards shutting down their program (they also dissimulated a great deal) and the US didn’t even begin pouring concrete until 2002 — under Mr. Bush’s administration. The reactors were never built. Your facts are just plain wrong here. Please consult this wikipedia summary for an overview of events.

    With a Nuclear NK and Iran, wouldn’t it be nice to have a robust missile defense system now?

    No, neither country has the potential to strike the USA; their threats are local.

    Not allowing the military or other agencies to run bin Laden to ground in the Sudan or Afghanistan.

    Inasmuch as these are sovereign nations, any such policy would have constituted a declaration of war. The Constitution requires the Congress, not the President, declare war. You’re dinging Mr. Clinton for enforcing the Constitution?

    You state that the Clinton Administration was a disaster, but you don’t provide convincing evidence of injury to American interests, and some of the statements you make about such injuries are false.

  56. Gary, I’m sorry that I didn’t respond to your list of points, but as you can see I am responding to a great many points and in all the hubbub I did overlook yours. Let me therefore right that wrong:

    It’s not ‘Gary’. It’s ‘Gray’. Of course it is easy to overlook the first actual response to your actual request…..

    First, I disagree with your claim that Clinton’s actions made the current war inevitable. The current war could have been avoided by a very simple decision on Mr. Bush’s part: Just Say No. He didn’t have to invade Iraq. There was no geopolitical reason for doing so, no policy advantage to be gained. Mr Bush is solely and entirely responsible for the Iraq war. Blaming it on Clinton is false.

    So you advocate against enforcing UN 1444 in place to end the First Gulf War and leave Saddam in power?

    Do you advocate for maintaining the sanctions and occupying Iraq by air in perpetuity?

    Why should Clinton not have lobbied the UN, as Bush did, to enforce UN1444 in 1997? Why not?

    We armed and trained many of the ‘foreign fighters’ we are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and the ‘tribal areas’

    That’s not compatible with the information I have. Please provide some documentation on how many of the people we’re fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan were trained by American forces in Kosovo.

    Well, I can’t really refute knowledge you have that you won’t share….. Really, why do my assertions have a higher standard of proof than yours? Some Chechnyans caught there too….

    Providing the nuclear reactors to North Korea

    This is not true. The North Koreans began building their weapons reactor in 1989, during the Bush Administration. Mr. Clinton signed a deal with them in which they’d shut down their nuclear weapons program in return for the US building LWRs — which are not good reactors for making weapons.

    They broke the seals on the fuel rods we provided as placed by the ‘agreed framework’ and made plutonium instead. Remember that?

    With a Nuclear NK and Iran, wouldn’t it be nice to have a robust missile defense system now?

    No, neither country has the potential to strike the USA; their threats are local.

    Not anymore based on the taepo-dong missile that NK launced across Japan. No one knows what Iran actually has as far as missiles go. Iran can certainly strike Europe though–what about our NATO partners?

    Not allowing the military or other agencies to run bin Laden to ground in the Sudan or Afghanistan.

    Inasmuch as these are sovereign nations, any such policy would have constituted a declaration of war. The Constitution requires the Congress, not the President, declare war. You’re dinging Mr. Clinton for enforcing the Constitution?

    That’s a specious argument. We had local troops working with US troops in those areas at the request of those nations against the radicals–bin Laden is member of no nation. Who could we declare war on?

    Or do you advocate treating terrorism as a law enforcement issue?

    You state that the Clinton Administration was a disaster, but you don’t provide convincing evidence of injury to American interests, and some of the statements you make about such injuries are false.

    Why didn’t Clinton enforce UN1444 on Saddam? Are you dinging Bush for enforcing a UN resolution?

  57. but some of those were not benefits of the Iraq war, they came about for other reasons and, more to the point, they’re not much to boast about. We expended nearly 4,000 lives and up to 2 trillion dollars net to learn that the Oil for Food program was corrupt?-Op

    This is caused by the belief that diplomacy is effective, or even most effective, when divorced from military force and threats.

    Such statements are rendered incorrect by such a premise, given that the premise is false.

    We expended nearly 4,000 lives and up to 2 trillion dollars net to learn that the Oil for Food program was corrupt?

    The result of many lives lost were due to the corrupt Oil for Food program. The program that was used to delay United States action until Saddam was ready with a Baathist insurgency, a Baathist insurgency that provided much of the funds, safe houses, and logistics to those that killed Americans in 2003-4-5-6.

    It would be more accurate to say that America’s enemies expended billions in Oil for Food to hamstring and execute Americans.

    Now look at the sinking dollar.

    China is increasing their GDP and one of the reasons it is doing so is because they are purposefully sinking their unit of currency. Yet you did not mention such as being bad for China and thus good for the uS, yet the decrease in American currency is bad for the uS? Such things do not parse logically.

    t won’t be that long before the Chinese GDP exceeds the American GDP, and we find ourselves on the receiving end of the same treatment we’ve been dishing out to others. I think we should be laying the groundwork to protect ourselves for that inevitability.-O

    Economists estimate that the dollar’s privileged position gives us about 1 percentage point of GDP growth.-O

    The dollar’s “privileged position”? What complete nonsense is this. America’s trade deficit is in the negative precisely because people can’t afford American goods because the trade ratio between American and local currency is way too high. This excludes all the trade sanctions that might come into play in foreign countries, even.

    And China’s has been around 10% for years.

    That is a direct logical contradiction. China has been keeping their currency devalued for decades. Yet the lowering of the US’s dollar is supposed to be a bad thing for us but a good thing for China given that China’s GDP is on the rise?

  58. First, I disagree with your claim that Clinton’s actions made the current war inevitable. The current war could have been avoided by a very simple decision on Mr. Bush’s part: Just Say No.

    I think this is the crux of the left vs. right argument on Iraq.

    Ophie, what do you think the result of ‘just say no’ to enforcing UN1444 would be?

    (I didn’t know libs had such high esteem for Nancy Reagan and her antidrug campaign….)

  59. Re Oil prices–since we are throwing everything at Pres Bush that we can. The Energy Information Association has just published:

    “Why Are Oil Prices So High?
    One of the most discussed topics in the media today, besides the 2008 Presidential races, is the high price of oil. Crude oil prices have increased dramatically this year, with West Texas Intermediate (WTI) prices climbing from an average of nearly $55 per barrel in January to over $95 per barrel at the beginning of this month. EIA believes that supply and demand fundamentals, including strong world economic growth driving growth in oil use, moderate non-Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) supply growth, OPEC members’ production decisions, low OPEC spare production capacity, tightness in global commercial inventories, worldwide refining bottlenecks, and ongoing geopolitical risks and concerns about supply availability, have been the main driver of oil price movements over the past year.”

    Not really the fault of the Bush Middle East (non)disaster….

  60. kevin, on November 7th, 2007 at 6:13 am Said:

    Yammer,

    Why are you engaging in childish name calling, kevin?

    Even if you were not a conservative, my post did not attack you personally at all.

    You have a poor recollection of recent history–Harriet Meyers fell on her sword and withdrew her name from consideration. Bush only picked Alito after Meyers was out of the running.

    I did not claim that Harriet Meyers was not forced to concede the field to the conservatives. Obviously she did withdraw herself from the field due to conservative reactions. That, however is not the same as what you said, which was that conservatives forced Alito on Bush.

    In retrospect, there were only two good things to come out of the Bush Presidency and they are both sitting on the bench of the Supreme Court (and conservatives had to force one of those on him.)-kevin

    I am only disagreeing with the argument that the conservatives could force anything on Bush that Bush would not wish to accept. Bush’s stubborness is legendary. It is a staple of his character, and I simply do not agree with arguments that attempt to bypass or override this trait of Bush.

    Alito, even if he was not Bush’s prefered choice, was Bush’s choice.

  61. Gray, your response doesn’t address the issues; I am beginning to suspect that you are here to argue, not discuss, in which case I’ll have no truck with you. But let’s see if we can salvage things:

    You didn’t respond to my point that Mr. Clinton is not responsible for the war in Iraq. You asked some questions about what our policy should have been during Mr. Clinton’s Administration. But I believe that my point stands unchallenged: Mr. Bush is solely responsible for the Iraq war.

    You wonder where my information comes from regarding the makeup of insurgent forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am relying on negative information: I have not seen any reports anywhere of Kosovars fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. If you have any information to this effect, by all means, let’s see it!

    We had local troops working with US troops in those areas at the request of those nations against the radicals

    In Sudan?!?!?! Sudan’s relations with the USA have been dismal for years. Their government is close to al-Qaeda. They’re on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. They have used us to get rid of some troublesome people, but only when they wanted to avoid the bad PR of killing an Islamic good guy. And to suggest that the Taliban might have cooperated with us in taking out Mr. bin Laden goes beyond the realm of reason.

    Why didn’t Clinton enforce UN1444 on Saddam? Are you dinging Bush for enforcing a UN resolution?

    Because enforcement of UN resolutions requires UN approval, which was not given.

  62. […] a historic context before stating worst in history. And don’t get me started on Jimmy Carter. SGT Dave “On the road […]

  63. Gray, your response doesn’t address the issues; I am beginning to suspect that you are here to argue, not discuss, in which case I’ll have no truck with you. But let’s see if we can salvage things:

    Wow… No, you just don’t like my answers because they question your pat view of things.

    I think we have hit the crux of it:

    You blame Bush because ‘He should have said ‘no’ to war.’

    Then you advocate sanctions, airstrikes and No-Fly-Zones in Iraq in perpetuity?

    UN resolution 1444 did, in fact authorize use of force against Saddam if he was out of compliance.

    In perfect hindsight, do you believe it was correct for Clinton to turn a blind eye to Saddam breaking the terms of the resolution that allowed him to stay in power?

  64. Re oil prices, let me also point to reporter driven ignorance, which is to confuse absolute dollars with real value. As I showed in a series of posts I did a week or two ago, crude oil, while high, is definitely not at the highest it’s been in terms of relative dollar value. Also, at the gas pump, gasoline is very much not the highest it’s been, and all real value calculations have to take in the incredibly high taxes we pay on every drop of gas in our tanks (in Calif., 50 cents on every dollar at the pump is tax).

  65. I have made two previous attempts to post a response to this topic, and both of my attempts were eaten by the software, so I’ll be very brief on this third try:

    1. Gray, I have been defending the controversial claim that Mr. Bush is the worst President in American history. Your question, while interesting is so far removed from my thesis that I will refrain from exploring it for the time being. Perhaps another time. For now, I’d prefer to keep the focus tight.

    2. ymarsakar, China’s currency efforts do not inflate or deflate its GDP, which is usually measured in dollars to make comparison easier. The growth of the Chinese economy is a very real phenomenon. You also asked about the dollar’s privileged position. This is due to the convention of using dollars to denominate many international transactions. This gives an advantage to American companies, which is worth about 1% of our GDP growth. However, many countries and corporations are starting to move away from the dollar standard in anticipation of continued declines in the dollar.

    3. Several people asked about the “war premium” on oil prices. I checked around and there’s a great deal of information on it, but most is anticipatory and from early 2003. Just Google “war premium” and you’ll find more information than you can cope with. I found two actual numbers: one fellow estimated $4/bbl to $10/bbl, while another estimated $5/bbl to $15/bbl. I think this economist was the one I had in mind when I mentioned $10/bbl.

    3.

  66. Bill, you offer a few benefits of the Iraq war, such as the revelations about Mr. Khan’s nuclear activities — but some of those were not benefits of the Iraq war, they came about for other reasons and, more to the point, they’re not much to boast about. We expended nearly 4,000 lives and up to 2 trillion dollars net to learn that the Oil for Food program was corrupt?

    Opi, I hope you don’t mind me shortening your name it is a Chicago custom. If you don’t argue the truth of the listed benefits of the Iraq invasion then, yes, I would argue they are worth the cost which I think you have exaggerated. 2 Trillion? Way too high. That being said, from a purely Utilitarian point of view the cost of nuclear proliferation is very high. How much cheaper would have been the cold war if Stalin had never had the help of the Rosenbergs and their fellow travellors.

    I give you credit for continuing to argue in the face of overwhelming opposition but you have cheerypicked. Even in your response to me which switches to quotes I never made. :-0

    Economics is my game so I would like to address two assertions you have made.

    2. ymarsakar, China’s currency efforts do not inflate or deflate its GDP, which is usually measured in dollars to make comparison easier. The growth of the Chinese economy is a very real phenomenon. You also asked about the dollar’s privileged position. This is due to the convention of using dollars to denominate many international transactions. This gives an advantage to American companies, which is worth about 1% of our GDP growth. However, many countries and corporations are starting to move away from the dollar standard in anticipation of continued declines in the dollar.

    This is simple not true. A countries currency should appreciate if their economy grows relative to other countries. If our GDP is growing less than China’s then their currency should appreciate relative to the dollar but it can’t because they fix their currency. The result is massive inflation in China. They are looking at a huge bubble which will pop.

    3. Several people asked about the “war premium” on oil prices. I checked around and there’s a great deal of information on it, but most is anticipatory and from early 2003. Just Google “war premium” and you’ll find more information than you can cope with. I found two actual numbers: one fellow estimated $4/bbl to $10/bbl, while another estimated $5/bbl to $15/bbl. I think this economist was the one I had in mind when I mentioned $10/bbl.

    Really difficult to quantify given the surge, no pun intended, in demand from China and India. Add onto that that oil is priced in dollars which are depreciating then you have a really complicated problem carving out the war premium.

    One big economic mistake that people make is separating macroeconomic and monetary effects. The depreciation of the dollar relative to the Euro has nothing to do with the strengths of our economies. Think about it! Has Europe suddenly given up on their socialistic policies? No. Dollar weakness is about the Fed is making too much credit, in dollars, available.

  67. Bill, I was responding to ymarsakar’s statement that “China is increasing their GDP and one of the reasons it is doing so is because they are purposefully sinking their unit of currency.” I was trying to explain why this statement doesn’t make sense. I agree that currency distortions strongly affect the balance of trade — but ymarsakar seemed to me to be saying that currency distortions directly distort GDP. And yes, the Chinese monetary policy is ill-advised because of its huge inflationary effects. Many Americans complain that this costs American jobs but they don’t see the flip side of the coin: cheaper imports for Americans.

    Yes, we have no way of empirically measuring the war premium. Not one of the sources I read attempted to provide a measure; they called their numbers “estimates” and they gave huge margins of error. The impossibility of measuring something like this doesn’t mean that the phenomenon doesn’t exist; it means that we can only guess at its magnitude. And I am certainly in no position to argue with the estimate of anybody working in the field.

    I think you overstate when you declare “The depreciation of the dollar relative to the Euro has nothing to do with the strengths of our economies.” It’s certainly true that there are a zillion other factors, and I certainly agree that the Fed’s policies have a huge impact on the strength of the dollar. But there remains another long-term factor here: the belief of foreign investors that investments in American assets will yield better returns than investments elsewhere. That in turn hangs partly upon their confidence in the overall strength of the American economy. So there is an indirect connection here. And this factor, I think, supports my basic claim that Mr. Bush’s policies have wrought long-term damage to the American economy. Do you disagree with the basic claim?

  68. I’m so tired I’m practically blogging with my eyes closed here, but I wanted to throw in something regarding Ophi’s premise, which is that Bush is the worst President ever. One of the pieces of evidence Ophi offers is the Iraq War. That itself rests on another premise, which is that the Iraq War was an unnecessary failure. I don’t believe that. I’m going to string together a few random thoughts here, but they should weave together into a theory that says that the Iraq War might not have been unnecessary and is not a failure.

    First, I don’t buy the “Bush lied, people died” line at all. It is true that Bush got potentially faulty intelligence, but that wasn’t his lie, that was other’s error. In any event, given the eight month lead-up to the war, the trucks scooting out of Iraq into Syria, and the recent Israeli incursion into Syria, I am open-minded about the fact that there were WMD’s in Iraq in the lead-up to the war, they just weren’t there when the war actually started. In addition, to the extent Saddam built a Potemkin village of WMD’s — that is, he tried to convince everyone he had them — it shouldn’t be surprising that he was believed and that people acted accordingly.

    (As an aside, whether Iran is on the verge of having the bomb, or is nowhere near having the bomb, it’s pronouncements to the effect that it is on the verge should be taken seriously and we should approach them as if they’re true. If they want to engage in dangerous boasting, they have to take the consequences.)

    Aside from WMDs, which I always thought were the smallest of the reasons to go into the war, there’s the fact that, when the Gulf War ended, the UN promised Saddam that, if he did not abide by UN rules imposed against his country, the UN reserved the right to have another coalition enter. Since Saddam violated numerous restrictions laid against him, the war was legal under . . . what was it ? . . . 1332 something.

    The War also made sense as a way of removing someone who, while not actively hosting Al Qaeda, was providing funding all over the place for terrorism against the West. Once the money starts flowing in that direction, it usually seems to end up in the hands of those with the greatest desire to kill. I never bought that Saddam was hand in hand with Bin Laden, but I never doubted that he was complicit in anti-American terrorism.

    Lastly, the war made sense in terms of placing an American presence squarely in the Middle East, breathing down Saudi Arabia’s neck. We couldn’t go into SA. It’s our nominal ally, and we’re deeply hooked on its black heroin (oil, of course). However, there’s no doubt that SA is one of the biggest exporters of anti-Western ideology, and having US troops across the border is a disincentive to Saudi Arabia to be too friendly with those who practice what SA preaches.

    As for the war’s success, I’m hearing more and more and more and more stories, in a real cascade in the last few weeks, about the turn around in Iraq. US deaths are drastically down, Al Qaeda and fellow traveler deaths are up, AQ spokespeople have announced their failure and, most importantly, Iraqis are desirous of returning to a normal life. To that end, they’re turning on (and turning in) the straggling remainders of the insurgency, cooperating in ever greater numbers with the US military, and cooperating with each other to achieve a stable life. They’ll probably make a good peace too, because no matter how foul Hussein was, there’s no doubt but that he did guide Iraq into being one of the more modern Islamic nations.

    In other words, Ophi, I’m not going to buy your fundamental premise that Bush is bad because the war was a false step with a bad outcome. Nor do I accept that the war created the anti-Western hatred that characterizes much of the Muslim world. That hatred has long been there, and has been acted upon for decades before Bush’s war. (I’ll just mention a few years here: 1979, 1983, 1993.) As it is, I’d much rather have the fanatics flushed out onto the battlefield against America’s armed forces, than lurking in the shadows all over the Western world, conspiring against civilians.

    And with that, to bed….

  69. Oph,
    Sorry about the delay in getting back. Google “Foreign Military Studies Office, Ft. Leavenworth, KS”. Check on the translated documents available to the public. I was working there before coming here (KFOR). Really good people and dedicated to finding out facts. As to the chemical weapons – I was there.
    SGT Dave

  70. 2. ymarsakar, China’s currency efforts do not inflate or deflate its GDP, which is usually measured in dollars to make comparison easier. The growth of the Chinese economy is a very real phenomenon.

    That is just the thing. You have to hold to position that the growth of the US economy is a very unreal thing, while using China as an example to hammer the US.

    Wow! And you have an MBA?!?!?! Look at the long-term economics! You say that our ratio of public debt to GDP is “well within historically reasonable standards”, but I believe that this ratio is the highest it has ever been in American history — correct me if I’m wrong. Now look at the sinking dollar. Add in the exsanguination of the economy due to rising oil prices (the current estimate is that Middle Eastern instability has tacked on about $10 to the price of a barrel of oil. We import 20 million bbls per day — that’s $200 million per day of increased costs due to our Middle East policy failures.) Oh, and did I mention that the dollar is losing ground as the currency of record for an increasing number of international transactions? Economists estimate that the dollar’s privileged position gives us about 1 percentage point of GDP growth. Take that away and our GDP growth starts to look more like Germany’s. And China’s has been around 10% for years. No, I don’t think that the American economy is in good shape just now, and the falling dollar is the best indication that the rest of the world is coming to the same conclusion.-Op

    Given that your base your example primarily on the strength of the US economy and the United States monetary policy, it only would be expected that China’s monetary policy accounts for far more than 1% of their GDP.

    but ymarsakar seemed to me to be saying that currency distortions directly distort GDP.

    Given that your position was that the dollar accounted for 1% of America’s GDP, I don’t see why you reject the situation out of hand. It is after all, not a proposal forwarded by me, but by you due to how you treated the issue of American economic prosperity.
    *************
    I’d still like to know why kevin, someone I’ve never encountered till now, selectively picks me out to personally attack. Bueller?

  71. To make clear my position, the United States 11 trillion GDP would take China decades to match. By that time the United States will have increased their GDP. That is why as a measure of economic growth, China’s monetary value is more important since it inflates their purchasing power parity.
    GDP (purchasing power parity):
    $10.21 trillion (2006 est.)

    GDP (official exchange rate):
    $2.527 trillion (2006 est.)

    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ch.html

    For the US

    GDP (purchasing power parity):
    $13.06 trillion (2006 est.)

    GDP (official exchange rate):
    $13.16 trillion (2006 est.)

    As you can see, China may be growing at around 250 billion in GDP per year, yet their PPP is essentially growing at 4 to 5 times their GDP rate.

    378 billion per year is the growth of the United States GDP at 2.9%. China can never catch up with a lowly GDP growth of 10%. It can’t even catch up with a GDP of 15% for the simple reason that a stern chase is a long chase. This is true for military expenditures as well.

    Thus, Op, your use of the American dollar as a reason for why US economic growth is slow and why China will overtake us, is incorrect. And also, your comparison to China’s economic growth compared to the US’s slow ploddingly along, is also lacking in consideration for China’s inflated monetary policy.

  72. ymarkasar, I am unable to decipher the thinking presented in your post, so I shall have to refrain from responding to it.

    Bookworm, you present a well-argued and direct assault upon my primary thesis, so I’d like to take some time responding to it. (Although I’m not in any way abandoning my other criticisms of Mr. Bush’s record.)

    First, you defend Mr. Bush’s decision to attack Iraq on the grounds that he honestly believed Iraq to possess WMD. There are two flaws in this argument. First, Mr. Bush’s administration actively suppressed intelligence that ran counter to its stated policy goal of attacking Iraq. There are many indications of this: Mr. Cheney’s attempt to fire an analyst who had the courage to disagree with Mr. Cheney; the insertion of a White House staff member into a Pentagon office tasked with preparing reports on Iraqi WMD (who rewrote those reports over the protests of the military officers); and of course the famous British memo about putting the policy before the intelligence.

    Second, Mr. Bush blatantly ignored the single best source of information on Iraqi WMD: the Blix investigation. Mr. Blix had people on the ground — American did not. All American intelligence suggesting Iraqi WMD was routed to Mr. Blix, who followed up — and found nothing. Mr. Blix had far and away the best intelligence on Iraqi WMD — and he declared that he had found no evidence for them. So the Bush Administration dismissed his results. And Mr. Blix proved to be correct.

    Next, you argue that Iraq had broken the terms of the cease-fire and therefore the invasion was legal. This is incorrect. The UN did not give the US a blank check to attack Iraq should the US decide that Iraq was violating the terms of the cease-fire. The UN reserved the right to renew hostilities if Iraq violated the terms of the cease-fire. The US made a motion in the Security Council to exercise the UN’s option. That motion was rejected by the Security Council. You can’t use one UN decision to claim legality while simultaneously rejecting another UN decision that denied legality.

    Your third argument is that Iraq was providing funding to terrorist groups. This is an established fact. The question is, does that funding justify the war? Let me remind you that Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Syria also provide funding for terrorist groups — and the evidence suggests that the funding provided by the first two exceeds that provided by Iraq. What is the geopolitical advantage to be gained by attacking the third-biggest funder while ignoring #1 and #2? Did it accomplish anything in terms of reducing overall funding for terrorism? I doubt it — the Iraq war has certainly increased Islamic resentment against the US and has likely increased the motivation to support terrorism directed against the US. I therefore conclude that the Iraq war had the net effect of increasing overall funding for terrorism.

    Your next argument is that the war has value in terms of intimidating Saudi Arabia. This runs counter to decades of American policy. We have always treated the Saudis as our clients. We have for decades been selling them high-tech weapons packages that few other countries have access to. One of the major reasons for our rapid response to the invasion of Kuwait was our fear that Iraq might attack Saudi Arabia. Hence, after decades of supporting Saudi Arabia, you want to reverse that policy and start treating them in a hostile fashion? This makes no sense at all.

    You declare that we are winning the war in Iraq. I suggest that you stop thinking about war in terms of winning and losing (that kind of thinking is for children) and think instead in terms of costs and benefits. Our stated geopolitical goal here is to replace a dangerous dictatorship with a friendly democracy. As I explained earlier, there is no chance that Iraq will establish a functioning democracy anytime in the new few decades. (I’ll be happy to expand upon those previous arguments if you wish.) Thus, when the political situation in Iraq stabilizes there will likely be a decidedly undemocratic government, probably theocratic and certainly Shiite, closely tied to Iran, and most definitely anti-American in stance. Why is this a better situation than what we had before we attacked?

    Next, you make a logical error in stating that the Islamic world hates us anyway and so we can’t have made matters worse. This is a common mistake, the substitution of black-and-white thinking for grayscale thinking. The world is not divided into two simple groups (those who love us and those who hate us). There are degrees of love and hate. If you check the Pew Global Attitudes Project that I referenced earlier, you’ll see that things have gotten much worse since the attack on Iraq. I’ll recommend in particular this report, which shows that, while there have been a few nations in which favorable opinions of the US have risen slightly, there have been dramatic falls in the period 2000-2006: Indonesia fell from 75% to 30%; Turkey fell from 52% to 12%; (and our closest ally, Great Britain, fell from 83% to 56%).

    Lastly, you retail the argument that it’s better to fight them over there than over here. I reject this argument, because it assumes that there is a fixed number of terrorists who can move anywhere in the world. That assumption is wrong for many reasons. First, it ignores the recruitment effect. We have provided hundreds of thousands of Iraqis with a strong incentive to become terrorists. By killing so many innocent people, we have inflamed feelings against us. Moreover, the sociology of Arab societies means that this is a losing battle for us. Every time you kill one person, you inflame several dozen close relations. If you kill one of those, you inflame even more. It’s a geometric explosion: the more killing you do, the more resistance you create. The only way to beat the resistance is genocide.

    But it gets worse. It’s much, much easier for them to attack us in Iraq than here in the US. Take some average insurgent off the streets of Baghdad and plunk him down in the US. He doesn’t speak English, he doesn’t have any idea of the cultural standards, and he stands out like a sore thumb. How’s he going to “lurk in the shadows”? But back in Baghdad, he fits right in and is indistinguishable from a million other normal Iraqis. He can fight us in Iraq; he’s useless in the US.

    But it gets even worse. In Iraq, he has access to lots of weaponry. He’s getting weapons from all sorts of sources: old Iraqi army weaponry, American stuff that was given to a “friendly” group and is now in the hands of a not-so-friendly group; Iranian weapons shipments; Saudi weapons shipments; Syrian weapons shipments. How’s he going to get his hands on that kind of weaponry in the US?

    But it gets even worse. In Iraq, he can organize, assemble weapons, and prepare operations in much greater safety than he could in the US. It’s a lot easier to kill US soldiers in Iraq than to kill US civilians in the US. In effect, your strategy amounts to “Let’s offer them tribute in the form of a huge quaff of American blood in the hope that they won’t come over here for a sip.”

  73. SGT Dave, I copied and pasted the search phrase you offered and got 29 hits on Google. The first was an item on Russian peacekeeping efforts in the near abroad, dated 1996. The second and third appear to be descriptions of an employment position offering. The fourth is a list of links to papers such as “Hezballah, Israel, and Cyber PSYOP” and “Suicide Bombers: Profiles, Methods and Techniques”. Would you mind being a little more specific? I really don’t have time to go on wild goose chases.

    As to your assertion that you were there, that’s all well and good, but I am asking for documentation of your claims.

  74. 1. Gray, I have been defending the controversial claim that Mr. Bush is the worst President in American history. Your question, while interesting is so far removed from my thesis that I will refrain from exploring it for the time being.

    Disingenuous. You’re not discussing in good faith.

    You avoid my questions because the answers would show that Bush is decidedly not the ‘worst president in history’, but that he was forced into making the best of a horrible situation left for him by the previous disaster of an administration.

    My questions to you go to the heart of your thesis.

    You are not discussing, or debating, in good faith.

  75. I disagree, Gray. I think that your questions are irrelevant to my thesis. If you can show a connection, I’ll be happy to discuss it. You declare that your questions go to the heart of my thesis. OK, so show how answering your questions in different ways would affect my thesis.

  76. Ophiuchus,
    Up front, WMD non-compliance was only one reason for the conflict. Blix’ report unequivocally stated that there was no way to confirm that the Iraqi gov’t had destroyed their weapons. WMD was only one of literally a dozen reasons for cassius belli. The others were sufficient.
    Establishment of a functioning democracy in Iraq is a goal that may take three or more generations; anyone thinking otherwise was not listening to the middle course analysts.
    Not all Arabic Islamics hate us; those that do, however, will likely never change their view.
    As to making it easier for the enemy to attack us; simply put you are wrong in many ways. It is easier for him to attack us if he has access to training camps, government-grade forgery/printing equipment, state sponsors providing new weapons, official passports, and refuges.
    It is easier to come to the US via the Mexico or Canadian border and melt into a population that is largely unarmored and immune to search.
    It is easier to attack unarmed and unarmored civilians who gather in stores, churches, and schools.
    It is easier to get “soft target” capable weapons in the U.S. than it is to get military-grade RPG and armor-piercing rounds in Iraq.
    Your last argument – “But it gets even worse. In Iraq, he can organize, assemble weapons, and prepare operations in much greater safety than he could in the US” was true but no longer IS true. They did assemble in safety in Iraq to come and kill U.S. civilians.
    As a servicemember I will sell the drops of my blood dearly, offering all I have to save those who I have sworn to protect from suffering a pinprick at the hands of the enemy. There is no huge quaff of American blood – to prevent another 9/11, or USS Cole, or 7/7 bombing a surprising number of us would be willing to lay down our lives.
    However, I am reminded of Patton’s phrasing and how it applies here and now, with enemy dead numbering roughly 50-100 per U.S./Coalition death – “It is far better to make the other poor dumb bastard die for his (country)”.
    SGT Dave

  77. It’s a lot easier to kill US soldiers in Iraq than to kill US civilians in the US. In effect, your strategy amounts to “Let’s offer them tribute in the form of a huge quaff of American blood in the hope that they won’t come over here for a sip.”

    ‘Cuz y’know, aside from “killing all those innocent people”, all our poor kid soldiers really do is die when confronted by an armed enemy.

    Like lambs to the slaughter our soldiers are, aside from comitting atrocities, all the enemy does is quaff their blood.

    Of course I support the atrocity committing incompetent troops as the enemy quaffs their blood! Why Iraqis can kill hundreds of them easier than my Aunt Marie!

    It’s a lot harder to kill my aunt over here, ‘cuz she’s a lefty and is ‘down with the Muslim struggle’, y’know…. Plus, she’s a ninja, not some dead-ender soldier who dies like a fly with the rest of them!

  78. Gray, with all due respect, Ophiuchus is arguing in complete good faith (though in support of a series of positions I disagree with). You do yourself and your arguments a disservice by launching completely unwarranted personal attacks. Try to stick to the merits of the arguments.

  79. I disagree, Gray. I think that your questions are irrelevant to my thesis. If you can show a connection, I’ll be happy to discuss it.

    You’ve got to be kidding me…. Now you are just obfuscating. Lemme ‘splain it on you again, Lucy:

    You avoid my questions:

    You blame Bush (and claim he is the worst president evah because ‘He should have said ‘no’ to war.’

    Then you advocate sanctions, airstrikes and No-Fly-Zones in Iraq in perpetuity?

    UN resolution 1444 did, in fact authorize use of force against Saddam if he was out of compliance.

    In perfect hindsight, do you believe it was correct for Clinton to turn a blind eye to Saddam breaking the terms of the resolution that allowed him to stay in power?)

    because the answers would show that Bush is decidedly not the ‘worst president in history’, but that he was forced into making the best of a horrible situation left for him by the previous disaster of an administration.

    But good job on trying to change the subject from ‘your premise’ to ‘whether my questions connect to your premise’.

    Tendentious, disingenuous and in bad faith….

  80. SGT Dave, casus belli does not address the question of whether a given military policy is beneficial; it merely provides a pretext for an attack. We have to concentrate on what we gain by any military operation. You state that the establishment of a democracy in Iraq will take three or more generations. I agree. So, let’s recalculate the cost of the Iraq war in terms of an American military presence there for three or more generations. Is the benefit worth the cost?

    Not all Arabic Islamics hate us; those that do, however, will likely never change their view.
    Agreed. So, why would we want to ignore the consequences of infuriating more and more Islamists?

    You argue that it is easier to attack American civilians in the US than to attack American soldiers in Iraq. From your assertion we must conclude that the opponents of America are utter idiots, wasting their time fighting America in Iraq when they could be slaughtering thousands here at home. I don’t think it’s wise to underestimate the intelligence of your enemy. I think that they’re just as smart as we are. Which means that it is NOT easier to attack us here than in Iraq.

    You next claim that is easier for a terrorist to operate in Iraq, among millions of his countrymen and coreligionists, where he has a large support network and a very weak security regime, than for him to operate in the USA, among a foreign and suspicious population, with little support network and an extensive security regime. I think this is patently preposterous.

    Both you and Gray seem to take umbrage with my characterization of the US offering tribute to the Islamists in the form of the blood of its soldiers. I suggest that you may be permitting pride to interfere with your judgement. The sad but undeniable truth is that, since the invasion of Iraq, nearly 4,000 Americans have been killed in Iraq and none have been killed in the US. Just look at the numbers. Where is the loss greater: the US or Iraq?

  81. Oops! I made a typo! Please replace

    “You next claim that is easier for a terrorist to operate in Iraq”

    with

    “You next claim that is NOT easier for a terrorist to operate in Iraq”

  82. Gray, I begin by imploring you to take a civil stance; I have no interest in getting personal, so I will terminate discussion with you if the temperature of your comments continues so high. I don’t want to do that because there are some useful points to be discussed between us.

    Apparently your position is that Mr. Bush had no choice but to attack Iraq because the previous methods weren’t working. This is the wrong approach because it ignores cost/benefit analysis. The failure of one policy does not automatically justify another policy. For example, we have clearly failed in our attempt to induce the Chinese to grant some autonomy to Tibet. Should we therefore resort to nuclear warfare against China? Of course not! Because the benefits are not worth the cost. The same reasoning applies to Iraq. Yes, the sanctions regime was not working. But that does not justify invading Iraq. The only reasonable way to justify such a policy is to examine the likely costs and benefits. Let’s tote up the basic costs:

    1. An enormous loss of American diplomatic clout.
    2. At least 4,000 dead before this is over.
    3. At least 20,000 permanently disabled
    4. A great loss of American military prestige
    5. A financial cost of roughly $2 trillion

    Somebody questioned this last estimate. This is based on future indirect costs, which include maintenance of the permanently disabled and medical costs for veterans, the aggregate cost of increased prices for oil, the lost productivity of American National Guard troops, and so forth.

    Now let’s look at the benefits:

    1. An anti-American theocracy aligned with Iran running Iraq.

    This is a benefit???

    This war has been a catastrophe for American interests. It has cost us dearly, and will give us no benefits. And Mr. Bush bears sole responsibility for it. This is my first reason for condemning him as the worst President in American history.

  83. I agree. So, let’s recalculate the cost of the Iraq war in terms of an American military presence there for three or more generations. Is the benefit worth the cost?

    But that assumes there is no cost to ‘doing nothing’ or ‘just saying no to war’ (God I love that hippy-dippy phrase!).

    The alternative to the Iraq war was enforcing the No-Fly-Zones and sanctions in perpetuity.

    If you do not support the Iraq war, then you must support enforcing the No-Fly-Zones and sanctions in perpetuity and leaving Saddam in power in violation of UN Resolution.

    Those costs are open-ended….

    Not all Arabic Islamics hate us; those that do, however, will likely never change their view.
    Agreed. So, why would we want to ignore the consequences of infuriating more and more Islamists?

    But they didn’t go away when Clinton ignored all the terrorist attacks in the 90’s, they only grew emboldened.

    Both you and Gray seem to take umbrage with my characterization of the US offering tribute to the Islamists in the form of the blood of its soldiers.

    Gee… I wonder why….

    I suggest that you may be permitting pride to interfere with your judgement.

    I suggest that you may be permitting your distain for the US to interfere with your judgement.

    The sad but undeniable truth is that, since the invasion of Iraq, nearly 4,000 Americans have been killed in Iraq and none have been killed in the US. Just look at the numbers. Where is the loss greater: the US or Iraq?

    Oh yeah, well just look at the numbers: where was the loss greatest–Germany or the US in WWII!?

  84. Gray, I begin by imploring you to take a civil stance; I have no interest in getting personal, so I will terminate discussion with you if the temperature of your comments continues so high.

    Yeah, that ‘enemies quaffing the blood of American soldiers’ part was perfectly civil….

    Really, just a civil academic thought exercise.

  85. Apparently your position is that Mr. Bush had no choice but to attack Iraq because the previous methods weren’t working.

    Actually, my position is that Mr Clinton had no choice but to attack Iraq because Saddam was firing on our aircraft and threw out the IAEA inspectors in 1997. Saddam was in complete violation of the agreement that allowed him to stay in power after Gulf War I.

    This is the wrong approach because it ignores cost/benefit analysis.

    Again: As I have asked you again, and again, what is the cost/benefit to enforcing the sanctions and occupying Iraq by air in perpetuity.

    Or until he gets lucky and kills an aircraft carrier, or builds his bomb, or lobbs some more chem weapons into Isreal….

  86. Gray, I urge you not to get quite so upset by Ophi’s arguments because, when you focus on the facts alone, you make great points that add value to this line of comments. I’m not a master of all (or even many) of the facts here, nor do I have a lot of time to dive into this kind of detailed argument, especially today. It’s therefore a great pleasure for me to watch intelligent people take up the standard on my behalf. Things go better, though, when we do the Dragnet thing of “just the facts,” no matter how the other party’s facts or analysis irritates us.

    Please keep coming back, because your facts and logic are strong, and your arguments lucid. I know from years as a lawyer writing legal briefs that, when when arguments get personal, the heat those personal attacks generate tend to obscure the wisdom underneath.

  87. Ophiuchus,
    I have to work to keep certain things at the unclassified level; for that I apologize profusely. The core issue that I have with the concept of “tribute” is that the price will be paid either in the U.S. or in some other location. The Islamo-fascist requires a number of things to attack the U.S. First is a recruiting ground. Iraq and Afghanistan were those primary grounds. Second, he needs money for training, weapons, and indoctrination. This money comes from several sources currently; however the flow from the Iraqi government and the Afghani Taliban have stopped, along with the places to conduct this training, receive the weapons, and undergo the indoctrination.
    Most importantly, the Islamo-fascist requires that his “core” world be pure. Until the U.S. is driven from Iraq this shame (See Dr. Sanity on Shame vs. Responsiblity cultures) requires that they strike at U.S. forces in their core region. If the U.S. leaves the region they will not stop attacking the U.S.; this will “prove” their potency and lead them to pursue further venues for their jihad.
    The lack of confrontation by the U.S. in the 90s was a direct factor leading to 9/11. We had withdrawn from all but a handfull of locations in the Middle East. Note that we were attacked on the Arabian peninsula (the Khobar Towers bombing) and did nothing in response. This lack of response led them to choose additional targets, leading to 9/11. Just because they have not arrived here does not mean that they would not have continued had we acted differently.
    The lack of attacks in the U.S. is attributable to three major factors –
    1 – Lack of funding caused by the diversion off resources and materiel to the fight in the recruiting grounds of Afghanistan and Iraq
    2 – The loosening of restrictions on intelligence activities to pre-Clinton levels allowing agencies to coordinate efforts against subversion and irregular force activities (terrorism, if you will)
    3 – The loss of key assets in planning and training positions because of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.
    I can’t wait until 2027 (more or less) when the majority of the restricted documents regarding these three points are declassified. The Ft. Dix plot would have had a professional intelligence officer from Al Qaeda to help prevent the mistakes that allowed them to be caught. The groups in Michigan would not have been caught in petty robbery if their funding had not dried up. And nearly 4,000 Americans have been killed in Iraq over four years; some of the men who helped plan the killing of over 3,000 Americans in one morning were caught in Iraq. Do you really think they would have stopped at one atrocity?
    And if I and my fellow soldiers are merely tribute and grist for the mill that keeps them tied to the Middle East instead of inflicting attacks on U.S. civilians, then let me ask you this – in paraphrase –
    Is there no greater love that a man may have than to lay down his life for another?
    SGT Dave

    And by the way; we have had a number of Islamist lunatics conduct attacks (LA Airport, the Carolina Jeep Jihadist, and others). Think what they could have done with the financing available to the faithful when Usama bin Laden was offering $25K for taking the fight to the land of the Great Satan.

  88. I know from years as a lawyer writing legal briefs that, when when arguments get personal, the heat those personal attacks generate tend to obscure the wisdom underneath.

    I’m sorry I’ve been a little heavy-handed on the pet liberal here. I assure you, I’m actually not quite as nice in person. Honestly, I’ve not yet begun to make personal attacks.

    Pointing out the disingenuousness (that’s a big word) of soliciting comments and then ignoring the comments should be fair game….

    Furthermore, there are lots of veiled snarky little personal attacks in Orchidectomy’s comments.

  89. OK, first let me dispense with some minor points before attending to the single substantive issue:

    You state that the terrorists grew emboldened during the Clinton years. You offer no substantiation. Yes, the terrorists grew in strength — but that’s different from being emboldened. Do you have psychological studies of the mental outlook of the terrorists? Morale reports from al-Qaeda? I don’t think so. You’re speculating.

    I suggest that you may be permitting your distain for the US to interfere with your judgement.

    Inasmuch as I do not hold the US in disdain, your suggestion is off the mark. You presume that, because I disagree with you, I am unpatriotic. That presumption is false.

    Oh yeah, well just look at the numbers: where was the loss greatest–Germany or the US in WWII!?

    That’s a non-sequitur.

    Yeah, that ‘enemies quaffing the blood of American soldiers’ part was perfectly civil

    Perhaps you should re-read that statement in its context. There’s nothing uncivil about it.

    my position is that Mr Clinton had no choice but to attack Iraq

    Inasmuch as Mr. Clinton did not choose to attack Iraq, your statement is patently false. Perhaps you should reword it.

    But now let me get down to the substantive issue: the costs of continuing the sanctions regime. Now, much depends upon the exact scenario that plays out, but for simplicity let’s assume a straightforward extension of the status quo in 2001. I’ll characterize that situation as follows:

    No American casualties
    Annual costs of $10 billion (I don’t have the actual number; does anybody else?)

    Now here’s the trick: the US could easily sustain that situation indefinitely. Mr. Hussein could not. His infrastructure was slowly but inexorably crumbling. His economy was steadily spiraling downward. The final outcome was not in doubt: Iraq would collapse and Mr. Hussein would lose power. It might have taken ten years; if he had been lucky, he might have lasted twenty years. Let’s give you the benefit of the doubt and assume the latter number. In that scenario, the total cost to the US would have been $200 billion — about one-tenth the economic cost of the choice that Mr. Bush made, and without ANY casualties.

  90. I can’t wait until 2027 (more or less) when the majority of the restricted documents regarding these three points are declassified.

    Nah…. The lefties will just scream: “Why didn’t that incompetent cowboy Bush do more if it was this bad!?”

  91. OK, first let me dispense with some minor points before attending to the single substantive issue:

    Yeah, never mind all that other stuff I don’t wanna think about….

    You state that the terrorists grew emboldened during the Clinton years. You offer no substantiation. Yes, the terrorists grew in strength — but that’s different from being emboldened.

    Is it?

    Do you have psychological studies of the mental outlook of the terrorists?

    Yeah.

    Morale reports from al-Qaeda?

    Yep….

    I don’t think so. You’re speculating.

    Let’s just go by what they say publicly and what Osama’s been saying about his reasons…. About why we are the ‘weak horse’

    I suggest that you may be permitting your distain for the US to interfere with your judgement.

    Inasmuch as I do not hold the US in disdain, your suggestion is off the mark. You presume that, because I disagree with you, I am unpatriotic. That presumption is false.

    You can’t impose a different burden of proof on yourself–got any documents or proof to back that up?

    Oh yeah, well just look at the numbers: where was the loss greatest–Germany or the US in WWII!?

    That’s a non-sequitur.

    But that was your point–that a war is a disaster if more soldiers are killed over there than civilians over here….

    Yeah, that ‘enemies quaffing the blood of American soldiers’ part was perfectly civil

    Perhaps you should re-read that statement in its context. There’s nothing uncivil about it.

    No, of course not….

    my position is that Mr Clinton had no choice but to attack Iraq

    Inasmuch as Mr. Clinton did not choose to attack Iraq

    Precisely…. We are left with the fallout (figuratively, praise allah) of that non-choice.

    But now let me get down to the substantive issue: the costs of continuing the sanctions regime. Now, much depends upon the exact scenario that plays out, but for simplicity let’s assume a straightforward extension of the status quo in 2001. I’ll characterize that situation as follows:

    No American casualties

    We were losing more soldiers per year then than we are now–go see fas.org for the stats. No kidding. We were losing soldiers over there all the time including 30 in 1 Chinook helo crash….

    Annual costs of $10 billion (I don’t have the actual number; does anybody else?)

    You made that up. You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. The only way we could pay for it, while not cutting social programs, was to go on a ‘procurement holiday’ and stop procuring new weapons systems

    Now here’s the trick: the US could easily sustain that situation indefinitely. Mr. Hussein could not.

    Yeah he could–with the Oil for Bombs scandal–he was getting richer than ever and building his army!

    His infrastructure was slowly but inexorably crumbling. His economy was steadily spiraling downward. The final outcome was not in doubt: Iraq would collapse and Mr. Hussein would lose power.

    Before he had nukes like Iran and NK? Before he rebuilt the ‘Super Gun’ to hit Tel Aviv with Chem weapons? Before he got lucky and shot a carrier with a missile? Before Uday or Qusay took over? Before he invaded Saudi Arabia and Kuwait again?

    Before the UN lifted the sanctions and made your point moot?

  92. Gray,
    Seriously, I really cannot wait. I have about a half dozen papers mostly written for CGSC/FMSO and the Military Journal that address a number of issues based on classified documents. When the de-class issues are settled I can actually publish my research instead of leaving it in a SCIF to moulder for several years.
    As it is, I have been blessed with access and need-to-know for a number of issues. I hate, however, having to argue from a priveliged position so I try to make sure that my arguments are backed by open-source materials.
    SGT Dave

  93. As it is, I have been blessed with access and need-to-know for a number of issues. I hate, however, having to argue from a priveliged position so I try to make sure that my arguments are backed by open-source materials.

    I understand fully; believe me.

    It is terribly difficult to illuminate the excellent decisions and attack prevented in a shadow war.

    Your Honor vs Sname culture comments were dead on. This is an existential ideological, psychological, informational and military fight.

    Guys like Orchidectomy, who grew up in post-modern, post-honor America (prolly CA) have no clue about how the Islamic-fanatics think and act .

    I don’t think he can relate to Red-State Americans, how can he understand the motivations of a tribal warlord or an AQI fighter?

  94. Gray, those last two paragraphs are skating very close to my rule that I delete comments that have personal attacks that are no longer humorous or a little snarky, but that are just plain mean. I like your comments, so I would hate to have to implement my “let’s play nicely policy” against them.

  95. Gray, you have crossed the line into personal attacks. I have no interest in engaging in personal vituperation. I came here to learn, not to cope with personal animus. I cannot prevent you from lowering the standards of the discussion here but I can ignore you — which is what I shall be doing in the future. You are welcome to continue dispensing your anger at me but I will not bother to respond. Enjoy yourself.

    SGT Dave writes,

    The core issue that I have with the concept of “tribute” is that the price will be paid either in the U.S. or in some other location.

    That’s true, but we pay a lower price here than in Iraq. It’s far more difficult for them to attack us here than in Iraq — as witnessed by their concentration of efforts on Iraq rather than here. And the life of a soldier is every bit as precious as the life of a civilian.

    Iraq and Afghanistan were those primary grounds.

    That is not correct; the bulk of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis and they all underwent training in Afghanistran, not Iraq. I don’t believe that any of the hijackers were Iraqi — correct me if I’m wrong.

    You refer to Iraqi financial support for terrorism. Let’s be precise here. Mr. Hussein was on very bad terms with al-Qaeda and we do not have any evidence of his funding that organization. His funding went to Palestinian Sunni resistance efforts. AFAIK, he did not provide any funding to Hamas. Hence, Mr. Hussein was not providing significant funding to terrorists who threatened the US.

    If the U.S. leaves the region they will not stop attacking the U.S

    True, but the question is how strong their attacks will be. They will have much less effectiveness attacking outside of the Middle East than they have inside Iraq.

    Do you really think they would have stopped at one atrocity?

    Of course not. Yes, they are hostile and dangerous. But this doesn’t mean that it’s prudent to play into their hands by giving them such wonderful recruitment tools as all the photos of maimed and bloody children.

    And if I and my fellow soldiers are merely tribute

    Once again you misunderstand that statement. Let me present it again and parse it for you:

    ” In effect, your strategy amounts to “Let’s offer them tribute in the form of a huge quaff of American blood in the hope that they won’t come over here for a sip.'”

    In this sentence I am criticizing a policy proposal because it metaphorically offers tribute to the terrorists rather than attacking the true threat. I am not dismissing the efforts of the American military as dishonorable. OK?

    Lastly, I’d like to commend you for recognizing that classified materials are of no utility in discussions of this kind.

  96. All,
    Good night from Kosovo and Camp Bondsteel. I have an early morning tomorrow.
    Be well, all of you, and remember that it is not enough to speak only to those who hold your own views; but rather to strengthen your wit and will by vying with those who would oppose you. There are no enemies here, Gray.
    Ophi, please do some research on the translated documents over at the Foreign Military Studies Office website; you’ll be surprised at what you find. The folks there are top-notch civilian and military analysts with a bent towards history. Take a look at Tim Thomas’ and Les Grau’s work on developing threats. Check out Kevin Freese and CW4 Tom Davidson’s groundbreaking work on border security issues (at least the unclassified things). Find the time to see the work of a number of fine translators who have given days (Rachel Moreland, and others) and weeks of their lives to bring the truth – rather Truth – as written from Pashtu and Arabic into English.
    There are surprisingly few that toil on this and other projects; they do it for a pittance and without care for spotlight or acknowledgement (I know Mr. Prinslow is probably going to be upset that I named them for their work). They are the front line in this fight to understand the world around us.
    Believe me, the world is not so simple.
    G’night.
    SGT Dave
    “Always Out Front”

  97. Guys like Orchidectomy, who grew up in post-modern, post-honor America (prolly CA) have no clue about how the Islamic-fanatics think and act .

    I don’t think he can relate to Red-State Americans, how can he understand the motivations of a tribal warlord or an AQI fighter?

    Bookworm, on November 8th, 2007 at 11:58 am Said:

    Gray, those last two paragraphs are skating very close to my rule that I delete comments that have personal attacks that are no longer humorous or a little snarky, but that are just plain mean. I like your comments, so I would hate to have to implement my “let’s play nicely policy” against them.

    Gray, you have crossed the line into personal attacks. I have no interest in engaging in personal vituperation. I came here to learn, not to cope with personal animus. I cannot prevent you from lowering the standards of the discussion here but I can ignore you — which is what I shall be doing in the future.

    What a wonderful and extraordinary teachable moment the juxtaposition of these comments provides.

    This is the world we, in Armerica, are accustomed to live in.

    There is an expectation of fair play. There is an expectation of civil discourse. On my part there is an expectation of fairness in warning me–no matter how heated the subject matter!

    This is the post-honor world I was referring to!

    This is the world the West created after WWII–everything can be reasoned logically and without ‘personal attacks’.

    Sit-ins can stop tanks.

    Ignoring bad behavior like terrorism makes it go away. Responding insults with greater insults leads to more strife. Ane eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind and all that nonsense.

    The world of the Middle East does not work that way! Ignoring an insult is weakness and invites more insults. Ignoring a provocation is weakness and invites more action. Warning a trangressor is weakness and invites more transgression.

    We, through force of arms, have created this ‘safe space’ of an expectation of fair play and no insult in the US and the West. It does not extend to the rest of the world.

    Heck, It doesn’t really extend outside of the cosseted urban centers of America. It’s the ‘lawyering’ of America: not only should an insult be ignored, it should be prevented, and if not, we have dispassionate remedies.

    We are so accustomed to the idea, since WWII, that political viewpoints are created logically and reasonably and can be discussed logically and reasonably no matter how noxious:

    “We might have to take things away from you for the common good.”

    Post-honor American response: “Well, is the common good really served by redistribution of wealth? Doesn’t that eventually lead to overall less wealth.”

    Honor-shame based response: “You’ll not dishonor and shame me by confiscating the things I have worked for. I’ll defend my keep with force”

    “We are feeding our troops as tribute to the Islamics to quaff their blood.”

    Post-honor American response: “We are fighting a counter-insurgency war over there to tie up their limited forced and funding to prevent them from terrorist acts here….”

    Honor-shame based response: “Don’t call our troops incompetent. No one quaffs our blood and we’ll kill 10 for every one we lose.”

    But political viewpoints are not created logically and reasonably. Political viewpoints are the most illogical unreasonably based views humans hold –as bad as religious viewpoints.

    Now notice how the most noxious, emotionally-based political viewpoints based on personal feelings and group identities, both left and right, rely on the expectation of fairness for their existence.

    Once somebody tries to play the

    “let’s debate reasonably and intellectually how your president is the worst in history and our military intentionally kills thousands of innocent children while foolishly paying a blood tribute to Islam.”

    game, you are already at a loss. You’ve already been insulted. In the vulgar: “he’s peeing on your back and telling you it’s raining”.

    That’s how and why consensus is assumed–they know you’ll stay reasonable and impersonal even if your ideas and beliefs are personally insulted. It’s their expectation as residents in post-honor urban america.

    I will be less intentionally insulting: Not because I’m ashamed, but because I am honored to be a guest here.

  98. I’m glad you’re honored to be a guest here, Gray.

    I guess my point is that I don’t want to shut down substance, but I do and will quibble on occasion with style. When I ask my daughter where she put something, and she announces, “I told you I put it in the car,” it matters very much whether she is simply stating a fact or including a sneering tone meant to put me, her mother, in my place. This example leads back to my original point about keeping to important facts, and letting the facts themselves educate the reader about whether they should be impressed, dismayed, amused, worried, shocked, etc.

    It’s not always easy to maintain a balance between interesting, colorful writing (good) and mean writing (bad, at this site), and I know that I have a adjectival style of writing that can slip into the insulting. Mostly, though, I try not to be insulting, or at least to reserve my snideness for big targets who have (a) put themselves out there and (b) won’t be reading what I wrote any time soon. I don’t mind commenting on Al Gore’s bombast, but I try never to be mean to those who visit this site.

  99. But it becomes comical at a point:

    Thesis: “Let’s discuss reasonably and logically your worst-in-history president and army of neocons who, when they’re not killing babies, are dying like flies at the hands of the superior Muslims….”

    Response: “Take that back you Son-of-a….”

    Hey, no personal insults! Debate him reasonably and rationally letting the facts speak.

  100. ymarkasar, I am unable to decipher the thinking presented in your post, so I shall have to refrain from responding to it.

    That’s certainly an interesting defense. I don’t see what the problem is, given that China’s GDP and the US’s are clearly present. Your contention is that China’s GDP is growing while the US is not, or at least the growth is not real or not a prosperous growth.

    The numbers clearly prove you wrong on this facet.

  101. The original topic, if you recall Op, was whether Bush’s tax cuts improved America’s economic growth. You used America’s 2.9% GDP growth in comparison to China’s as support for your views. Your support is wrong and so are your views.

  102. Congrats on your commentary counter exceeding 100 on this post, Book. This has been a great back-and-forth discussion, well supported by all sides. My work schedule has me out of the mosh pit, for now but it makes for great reading.

  103. ymarkasar writes,

    Your contention is that China’s GDP is growing while the US is not, or at least the growth is not real or not a prosperous growth.

    Aha! That’s the problem! You have misinterpreted my words. What I’m really saying is that the Chinese GDP is growing faster than US GDP, a well-documented fact.

  104. Aha! That’s the problem! You have misinterpreted my words. What I’m really saying is that the Chinese GDP is growing faster than US GDP, a well-documented fact.

    But it isn’t growing faster than the US’s GDP.

  105. But it isn’t growing faster than the US’s GDP.

    Oh, really? You’d better rush right out and tell the CIA!

    11.6% GDP growth for China

    2.9% growth rate for USA

    They’ll greatly appreciate your correcting them.

  106. Do the math, Op. What is 11.6% of

    GDP (official exchange rate):
    $2.527 trillion (2006 est.)

    and what is 2.9% of

    GDP (official exchange rate):
    $13.16 trillion (2006 est.)

    I’ll do it for you. It’s 293 billion per year.

    The US grows at 324 billion per year. And that’s without inflated currency and duplicitious trade policies.

    This doesn’t really jibe with your worry that the US will be replaced by China’s economic power.

    So like I said.

    But it isn’t growing faster than the US’s GDP.

  107. Actually it’s 381 billion per year for the US. Calculation error occured somewhere.

  108. ymarsakar, you’re engaging in a debater’s trick. GDP growth is always measured in percentage terms. If you want to be technical, then there are two statements, both of which are true:

    1. The fractional growth rate of China’s GDP exceeds that of the USA.
    2. The absolute growth rate of USA’s GDP exceeds that of China.

    The catch is that, whenever economists, bankers, businessmen, or reporters talk about “growth rate of GDP”, they are ALWAYS referring to the fractional growth rate. I won’t fault you for being unaware of standard language usage, but I will assert that your claim is false when interpreted using standard English usage. (And if you don’t believe me, just Google a phrase like “growth rate of GDP” and see how many hits come back in percentage points and how many hits come back in dollars.)

  109. ymarsakar, you’re engaging in a debater’s trick.

    If you see concrete objective proof that backs up my claims as being a trick, then I suppose nothing is true to you, Op, except what you wish to be.

    The catch is that, whenever economists, bankers, businessmen, or reporters talk about “growth rate of GDP”, they are ALWAYS referring to the fractional growth rate.

    So were you simply clueless when I stated that China’s GDP was growing slower than the US, or were you simply wasting time for time’s sake? After all, if the catch is that most people talk in terms of percentage growth, then obviously my statement was either wrong or I was talking about the objective growth of wealth. You assumed the position that you were biased towards, which expressed itself in the form of telling me how I needed to tell the CIA about the GDP growth, when I was the one that linked to the CIA fact page in the first place.

    All of this has nothing to do with the truth. It is nothing but a delaying tactic. You cannot defend your position that China’s economy will outpace or replace the US, and thereby put the US into a subservient position, which is somehow then linked to Bush’s bad tax and economic policies.

    I won’t fault you for being unaware of standard language usage

    You are in no position to be condescending.

    But it isn’t growing faster than the US’s GDP.-Ymar

    Oh, really? You’d better rush right out and tell the CIA!-You

    Not only did you miss my real meaning, which is predictable of you in this discussion, but instead of discussing the actual figures in question, you go on about “standard language usage”. Are you dodging for the sake of dodging or are you simply practicing your skills at debate, with no interest at all in defending your position?

    Have you ever asked yourself how you continuously miss what people are actually communicating in favor of what you want them to communicate, which coincidentally happens to be a weaker position than yours?

    You cannot avoid defending your weak claim concerning the United States economy, Op. Although given such weak claims, it might be preferable to abandon it as you have, for more favorable topics.

  110. 1. The fractional growth rate of China’s GDP exceeds that of the USA.
    2. The absolute growth rate of USA’s GDP exceeds that of China.

    Well, of course! If you have a rickshaw and you build another rickshaw, your fractional GDP growth was 100%.

    But your economy is two rickshaws in absolute terms.

    However, if the US ever got serious about industrial espionage and International Tech Transfer Laws, we’d cut their GDP growth in half!

  111. ymarkasar, I’m going to have to put you onto the same list with Gray. I have no desire to engage anybody in personal confrontations, and you seem bent upon picking fights rather than resolving disagreements. I wish you well, and I will not be responding to any of your future comments. I encourage you to continue making whatever comments you wish, but I want you to correctly understand that my lack of response is indicative only of a desire to avoid wasted effort, nothing more.

  112. I wish you well, and I will not be responding to any of your future comments.

    Withdraw from the discussion if you wish. I do believe I have proven the fundamental philosophical problems with your method of debate, discussion, and so forth.

    It is apparent that while I have mentioned China and the US’s economic GDP situation in all of my previous comments, simply in order to forward the original topic for discussion, you have prefered to talk about irrelevant subjects instead. If this is your idea of “resolving disputes”, then I suppose resolving disputes implies that I have to agree with you. You don’t really expect that to happen just because, do you.

    I won’t fault you for being unaware of standard language usage, but I will assert that your claim is false when interpreted using standard English usage

    In the last 3 or 4 comments, that is the best you can do. Take a fallacious position by utilizing statistical lies about relative percentage growth to challenge the simple objective truth that China’s GDP is growing slower than the US’s, even when the percentages are different.

    You cannot even admit the incorrectness of your position, so you pick and choose rationalizations and semantics to justify yourself. That is the best you can do. It is not good enough. It was never good enough. It wouldn’t even be good enough if the statistics and data used in Global Warming were actually true and not misleading, in reference to the Global Warming debate on the other threads.

    If you want to be technical, then there are two statements, both of which are true:

    1. The fractional growth rate of China’s GDP exceeds that of the USA.
    2. The absolute growth rate of USA’s GDP exceeds that of China.

    The last in a long line of serious problems with your position is this. How can my claim be “false”, when you yourself stated that my statement along with the other, in the two shown above, are both correct. Is technicality only valid in your view when it brings you advantages, or is there a nonbiased treatment of technicality you might wish to pursue. You interpret fact in such a way that it almost makes it seem that the actual GDP value does not matter, that what matters is the statistical lies and percentages used instead. Truth does not simply mean truth that you like or truth that justifies your arguments, if you ask me.

    In the end, Bush’s economic policy brought the US out of a recession and China still has many economic reforms and tax changes to go through before they can equal Bush’s economic success.

    Such a position outlined is innately more optimistic than the Global Warming fear factor, yet it is just not fashonable nor popular enough to attract many followers. That, of course, is irrelevant.

    If you wish to disagree with Bush’s economic success, then you will obviously need something stronger than talk about China and the US’s GDP or economic growth.

    I want you to correctly understand that my lack of response is indicative only of a desire to avoid wasted effort

    If only you took as much care in trying to understand what other people’s positions are, as you did with writing this comment; if you used as much care as you use crafting moderate comments such as this, then you might come up with stronger arguments. At least in relation to what your counter-parts are forwarding.

    Your lack of response is not primarily due to a desire to avoid wasted effort. Your lack of an adequate response is due to a difference in philosophy, resulting in not being able to accept objective truth over semantics and personal biases. This is not some minor accident or mistake, after all. It is one of the critical problems affecting every argument you make, including the popular Global Warming ones, whether such arguments involve statistics or science.

    I have no desire to engage anybody in personal confrontations

    Do you truly believe this or are you simply trying to rationalize your way out of facing the truth?

    What I’m really saying is that the Chinese GDP is growing faster than US GDP, a well-documented fact.-Op

    But it isn’t growing faster than the US’s GDP.-Y

    Oh, really? You’d better rush right out and tell the CIA!-op

    They’ll greatly appreciate your correcting them.-op

    ymarsakar, you’re engaging in a debater’s trick. -Op

    What was your attempt at back covering again, something about you not wishing to create confrontations?

    Remind me again, who was it again that prefered to talk about their opponents rather than the legitimate subject being discussed?

    I have often argued the point to conservatives as well as liberals that facts are not one dimensional. There are many different interpretations of any single fact. This incident with the GDP growth rate, as opposed to the absolute growth of the GDP, provides a very good example of the fact that facts have more than one interpretation. It is how you interpret facts that affect the strength of the arguments in play as well as setting the assumptions being used.

    The best that can be said of your argument, Op, is that it only uses the logical fallacy of ad numerum.

    This fallacy is closely related to the argumentum ad populum. It consists of asserting that the more people who support or believe a proposition, the more likely it is that that proposition is correct.

    Defending your argument, your position, is in your eyes, Op, a personal confrontation. I suppose it is in a way, since the way you conduct yourself in these discussions is very closely connected to your self-identity.

    Did you somehow think for some reason that I would stand around and take your evasions and logical fallacies, as if they were indisputable facts, uncontested? Come on, be serious here.

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