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October 24, 2004

Comments

I can almost hear the gears grinding. "At least the explosives are over there blowing things up. If it we didn't invade Iraq, Saddam would be using it for suit case nukes in midwestern malls."

At this point, hilzoy, it's doubtful any Bush supporters who post on blogs will admit to anything. They would lose too much face.

The True Believers will vote for Bush no matter what.

One may hope that, in the privacy of the voting booth, the non-True Believers will choose Kerry-Edwards. But even if they do, they'll never say so.

don't forget, they didn't secure the nuclear sites, either.

"At this point, hilzoy, it's doubtful any Bush supporters who post on blogs will admit to anything. They would lose too much face."

Seems a bit cart-before-the-horsing to me at this point, and generally in bad form to be doubting so many peoples' words in this manner.

See this for more re my 10:05. I think.

I agree with rilkefan. (Not for the first time.) When I wrote this I was absolutely furious, so the last bit might not have come across as the genuine question I meant it to be.

this defies belief? Really? and this after you post in a thread defending the bashing of a satirical posting of something our own country does routinely? Does the phrase: Wanted Dead or Alive ring at all? Your outrage needs to be consistent at the least to be taken serously.

A NYT article on the topic is up at http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/25/international/middleeast/25bomb.html

Wilfred, did you read the story? 350 TONS of high explosives that had been MARKED AND LOCKED by the IAE were left unguarded and are now gone.

OK, I'll bite. How does that compare to a satirical op-ed advocating the assassination of Bush?

This I gotta hear.

uh Casey, i read this and before it was posted here dude! and not only that but suggested this very topic to the powers that be at this blog (admittedly from Kos who posted this before this place) but the fact is that you are either with the conservative program or performing fellatio on the patriarchy. is that too tough to swallow? Believe me, i've swallowed worse. And so have most. I'm just tired in this last week of the race and am interested in separating the wheat from ..... well, you get it, non les amis?

The end of the NYT article (thanks for the link, Dave M) suggests a believable but not very reassuring explanation:

Administration officials say Iraq was awash in munitions, including other stockpiles of exotic explosives.

"The only reason this stockpile was under seal," said one senior administration official, "is because it was located at Al Qaqaa," where nuclear work had gone on years ago.

So the most charitable defense is that this wasn't a blunder, but that there were simply too many weapons caches to be secured. Which means that this particular batch of 350 tons is probably not the only stash to have gone missing. Whew, that makes me feel better.

by the way, here's the web address:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2004/10/24/183019/35

and the phrase was meant to be about being with the patriarchy or... performing on the patriarchy... yes , preview is my friend. yawn, it has been a very long week (and the next week will make this look like a picnic!).

"...the fact is that you are either with the conservative program or performing fellatio on the patriarchy... well, you get it, non les amis?"

No. I don't get it at all. Are you saying I'm "with the conservative program or performing fellatio on the patriarchy"? or that anyone who isn't totally outraged by the Guardian op-ed is? or, you know, what are you saying, exactly?

casey, why do you quote what has already been corrected?

Sorry, posters. I don't come here often enough to know who the local nutcases are. My apologies for letting the conversation get sidetracked.

The interesting thing to me, about the missing Al Qaqaa explosives, is that none of the bloggers or commenters I have perused seem, so far, to have noticed is that the
main difference between this stockpile of explosives (over 750,000 pounds of it altogether: ONE pound makes a more-than-adequate IED) -and others in Iraq is that the location of this one was KNOWN - not some secret bunker squirreled away underground somewhere, but an identified site whose location and contents were known to an international agency (who had "sealed" it, whatever that means) - and STILL managed to get emptied out *during* the first phase of the occupation. Yeah, wars can get sloppy some times, but this cache should have been one of the first to be checked out, and its inventory either blown up, or kept and guarded (by us).
Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy!

Wilfred: so I posted earlier, agreeing that it's out of line to suggest that the assassination of George W. Bush would be a good thing. Personally, I think that it's always out of line to suggest that political assassination would be a good thing. Now I am outraged by the idea that our government has allowed 350 tons of high explosives, suitable for use either in thousands of car bombs or in nuclear weapons, to be stolen from under our noses, in a war we got into in part, supposedly, to prevent WMD from getting into the hands of terrorists. What exactly is my inconsistency supposed to be? And is it me or just CaseyL who is in one way or another a tool of the patriarchy? In either case, why?

don't forget, they didn't secure the nuclear sites, either.

On which note, I read last year (or maybe earlier this year) that al-Tuwaitha yellowcake had been seized by customs officials at a port in Hamburg. I haven't heard anything about it in months, nor can I relocate the article in which I read it; does anyone know whether this story was subsequently discredited, or, if it's just vanished down the memory hole, what the original story was?

What does the Eastern Orthodox Church have to do w/ BMXs and John Hinkley?

CaseyL: At this point, hilzoy, it's doubtful any Bush supporters who post on blogs will admit to anything. They would lose too much face.

Agreed.

Ah, early morning posting. In order:

1). wilfred. I don't care what issues you have to resolve in order to keep posting here; if you can't handle the fact that I maintain civilized community standards, go somewhere else. But you want to stay, I suggest remaining polite to my cobloggers. That is only in the form of a suggestion, by the way.

2). CaseyL. I ban the nutcases. Anybody who remains who you have a problem with, you email the site and we review appropriately. No standards policing by the community here.

3). Everyone else. 350 tons of military explosives getting in the hands of terrorists would be, indeed, an unmitigated disaster. As was Washington's defense of Manhattan, the burning of Washington in the War of 1812, Chickamauga, the Battle of the Crater, the entire year of 1916, Pearl Harbor, the collapse of the Western Front in 1940, Kasserine Pass and the first invasion of South Korea by North Korea. This is the nature of war. Disasters happen. Governments try to keep quiet about them, for reasons both good and bad - and often the latter.

So, was the Administration wrong to keep this quiet? Sure, why not. Bad Administration! Bad! No biscuit!

There. All better? Probably not, because I'm still voting for Bush. Your problem, not mine.

One thing I wonder (and I'm in the Kerry camp so you can take this with whatever salt based project you have) is that if the troops have been getting training on IEDs that are supposed to be unused artillery shells and the like, and it has not been explained to them that this is what they are dealing with, wouldn't this be more than a no biscuit offense?

err product, not project.

Lots of ifs there, l-j, and I don't know enough about the training involved - or whether or not they actually didn't have things explained to them. Bomb disposal isn't one of my fields.

This strikes me as a good lithmus test for the MSM. This story should be huge. But, as Marshall pointed out, MSNBC had spun it as "Paper: Iraq tells U.S. of missing explosives."

They seem to have updated that title though, it now reads: "U.N. agency says large cache of explosives missing from Iraq"

But all in all, they're buying the administration's line that they only heard about this on October 10. This, despite "Iraqi officials say[ing] they told Jerry Bremer about this last May."

Juan Cole nails the big picture significance of this:

The complete lack of interest of the Bush administration in actually securing dangerous materials connected to the old, abandoned Iraqi nuclear program has long belied Bush's stated concern with Iraq's alleged weapons as a pretext for the war.

Moe - I don't have a problem with Wilfred, and I am not in the habit of running to moderators and demanding they protect me from the Bag Bad Nutcase. Wilfred is a non-sequiter-spouting derailer, and I didn't realize that when I responded to his/her/its posts. I realize it now.

As for your defense of the latest Whoops! by the self-proclaimed War President: Yes, mistakes are made in wars. However, this one was not made during Major Conflict, which Bush assured us had already ended. This one was made when US forces were triumphantly neglecting to guard *anything* except the Oil Ministry. This one was made when US forces were triumphantly neglecting to guard WEAPONS DEPOT which the Bush Admin had been WARNED ABOUT.

Above all, this one was made regarding, let me say it again, a WEAPONS DEPOT Correct me if I'm wrong - the Admin's story keeps changing, so it's hard to keep up - but wasn't Iraq's WEAPONS PROGRAM Bush's original rationale for the war? Wouldn't you think that a war ostensibly fought to make sure Iraq was disarmed would FOCUS on SECURING WEAPONS DEPOTS?

Failure to secure just about anything. Failure to curb looting. Failure to find WMD. Abu Ghraib. Collective punishment which inflames the populace while failing to curb the insurgency. Failure to rebuild the infrastructure to prewar levels. Failure to keep terrorists out of Iraq. And now, failure to secure 380 tons of high explosives which had been under IAE lock, which the IAE had warned the Bush Admin about, and which is being used by insurgents.

The difference between the Iraqi disaster and the other military mistakes you list is that, in Iraq, the failures are constant, ubiquitous, and relate directly to the putative reasons the war was launched in the first place.

"The interesting thing to me, about the missing Al Qaqaa explosives, is that none of the bloggers or commenters I have perused seem, so far, to have noticed is that the main difference between this stockpile of explosives (over 750,000 pounds of it altogether: ONE pound makes a more-than-adequate IED) -and others in Iraq is that the location of this one was KNOWN"

Sadly, this isn't a difference. My sadly in the CPA routinely told stories of Iraqis coming into their offices and saying "hey, there's this big cache o' RPGs thirty miles north-by-northeast from here. Here are the precise coordinates." When the officials asked for the military to secure the cache, they were always told "no can do. Not enough troops" -- or something to that effect. The locations of most of these supplies of arms and explosives were, at best, open secrets. I ranted about this a little bit here.

Someday I'll write about the "what should we do about Iraq" debate between military and foreign-policy experts I was at, which turned into a can-we-find-anyone-even-among-supporters-of-the-invasion-that-will-say-nice-things-about-the-administration's-occupation-policies hunt.

Should've been "sources," not "sadly" a second time :-).

Interesting that about 9 days before the election, a story hits that reinforces Saddam's desire to build nuclear weapons. A cursory take away from this is that just one of Saddam's stockpiles had 350 tons of high explosives that can be used to detonate a fission bomb. We have a story that illustrates that Saddam's Iraq was a long term threat waiting to happen and the anti war folks are using it to nail Bush. Tactical error?

I know that the message we "should" be taking away from this is that "Chimpy is incompetent." But when I read the excerpts from the Nelson report, and see numbers like 350 tons and 20000 rockets, I could also see where undecided hearing this could thing that Saddam or Uday commanding this stuff would be far to dangerous to keep in power.

Mike P: I could also see where undecided hearing this could think that Saddam or Uday commanding this stuff would be far to dangerous to keep in power.

It's possible: there's been enough confusion (some of it deliberately stirred by the administration) about what Saddam Hussein actually had, and whether it constituted a sufficient threat to warrant invasion (it didn't, and it's fairly clear that Bush & Co knew it didn't prior to invasion).

This isn't exactly a smoking gun (so to speak): it's merely the latest in a series of discoveries that demonstrate that the Bush administration is too incompetent, as well as too corrupt, to be allowed to return to power.

That despite this being publicly available knowledge, Bush will probably still get 40% of the vote (my guess, nothing more) says more about the American electorate than anything else.

mike p:
Your point about the Al Qaqaa explosives cache bringing up the issue of Saddam's nuclear "program" is a valid one: but only in the sense that the uninformed press and public will read "IAEA" (if they even know what that stands for) and "fission bomb" and jump to the conclusion that this was some sort of nuclear-bomb related cache. It wasn't: or, to be more precise, it was ONLY in the sense that, a functional atomic bomb needs conventional explosives to detonate its nuclear components: although NOT as much as 350 tons of the stuff. The Al Qaqaa bunker cache was just a by-product, most likely, of Saddam's complusive hoarding of military materiel - and one which, as we've seen, was known about even before the invasion. The real story here is (or, IMO, very much SHOULD be) the failure-to-secure-dangerous-materials meme, not the "nuclear" one which is virtually a red herring.

Mike P: three points. First, these explosives were under seal and guarded by the IAEA prior to our invasion.

Second, about the timing: the Iraqi government reported this to the IAEA on October 10 (from the NYT article). The IAEA officially informed the US on October 15. The Times has apparently been working this story for about a week, along with (apparently) 60 minutes. If their source were either someone in the IAEA or someone in a part of the administration that had not previously known about this (and, according to the NYT, Condoleeza Rice was only informed 'within the last month'), the timing would make perfect sense.

As to why the Iraqis only just informed the IAEA, the Nelson Report claims that the administration pressured them to keep it silent. According to the Times, the IAEA started putting serious pressure on the Iraqi government to submit reports on the status of weapons sites "early this month", which seems to have prompted the Iraqis to inform them.

Third, luckily we are not about to choose between Goerge W. Bush and either Saddam or one of his loathesome sons. Saddam is out of power, and Uday and Qusay are dead. The question we are faced with is: should we reelect someone whose administration failed to secure a site that they knew about before the invasion, which contained 350 (or 380, depending on which report you accept) TONS of high explosives of the sort used to blow up airplanes, buildings, and our troops, and also to trigger nuclear weapons, and also failed to secure Iraq's nuclear facilities, failed to preserve order, etc. etc. etc.? Or should we say: enough is enough?

"There. All better? Probably not, because I'm still voting for Bush. Your problem, not mine."

This reminds me of one of George Carlin's least favorite phrases: Undisputable Heavyweight Champion of the World.

To which he wonders: so what's all the fighting about?

"To which he wonders: so what's all the fighting about?"

I'd love to know myself, John. If it were up to me, we'd all just accept the fact that some of us are voting for one candidate and others of us are voting for another.

Moe

350 or 380

i believe the difference there is English vs metric tons. metric ton = 2204 pounds. so, 350 metric tons, or 380 English tons...

Surely there can't be anyone here who thinks that news like this is going to sway those of us who frequent blogs. Bush bloggers have settled in for the long winter's night -- nothing, short of cocaine found under the desk in the Oval Office will change their votes.

I'm pretty sure that Moe (and many others voting for Bush) consider him a huge disappointment in many areas. Unfortunately, they either (1) want the Republican Party to stay in power enough that they'll vote for Bush as a placeholder (see: Supreme Court); (2) believe that Bush's convictions are enough, even if the execution is occasionally bungled; (3) believe Bush has done a good job/God's work in Iraq and elsewhere; and/or (4)are terrified/sickened by the idea of a Kerry administration.

I'm no Kerry fan, as everyone knows, but I sure hope it isn't #4. We've had enough of folks wanting the President gone before he's even taken the oath of office.

Metric tons? 2204? Just more damn French perfidy, if you ask me!

I left off #5, which is something like "nobody's perfect," "war is hell," "everyone lies," "lots of the current administration isn't coming back anyway," etc.

If it were up to me, we'd all just accept the fact that some of us are voting for one candidate and others of us are voting for another.

It is up to you -- your blog, your rules. IMHO a rule prohibiting expressions of disbelief that any rational person could possibly be voting for Candidate X would make for less rancorous discussions.

Opus -

I suppose I'm closest to reason #2. As I see it, the choice this election is between Bush's desire to eliminate the terrorist threat against US citizens and Kerry's desire to keep terrorism at some sort of manageable level.

I believe strongly that the right path is to never reward terrorism with concessions and never allow it to become a successful strategy. For example, I think that Bush's stance in regards to Arafat is far preferable to some sort of "peace process" where the PLO gets rewards and recognition essentially for targeting civilians. Reinforcing that behavior will only lead to more groups trying it. Certainly I wouldn't claim that the Bush administration has perfectly executed at a tactical level. But tactics can be refined. If you've got the wrong strategy, you've got no chance at all.

I'm no Kerry fan, as everyone knows, but I sure hope it isn't #4.

(Shrug) I took the pledge. If anybody out there thinks that I can reconcile that with being terrified and/or sickened with a Kerry administration, well, I can't do anything about that.

Moe and other Bush supporters:

I would say this establishes beyond a shadow of a doubt, if there was any shadow left, that they were wrong about the number of troops needed to secure the country.

Has he ever admitted he was wrong? Has he indicated that he might fire Rumsfeld? No. The closest he came was in--I forget which debate. He blamed the generals.

I think what is frustrating to people voting against Bush is that from our point of view, we never see our arguments really engaged. I mean, every word I have posted here--it does not seem to have changed most GOP readers' minds even a little. Sure, you say the House rendition bill is bad, maybe email your Congressman. But you vote for the administration and you probably vote for the GOP Congressman in your local election.

There seems to be no limit to what will be excused or tolerated. So I guess there is some underlying rationale why. But I can't for the life of me figure it out.

I only understand a Bush vote from people who actually believe abortion is murder, or from people who believe that only he can keep the country safe. I don't understand how anyone who follows the news closely can believe only he can keep the country safe. He made a good speech after 9/11, he threw a strike in Yankee stadium, he went to Ground Zero, and he has some nice cliches about the war on terror that sound good until you think about them and compare them to his actual record.

Weigh that against missing explosives, the potential WMD sites...and they're making the same careless mistakes with nuclear materials in the former USSR, they're not investigating the world's worst nuclear black market in Pakistan, they've got no apparent plan for dealing with North Korea, we have no real idea what they plan for Iran.

Weigh the pretty words about freedom and human dignity and the rule of law against Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, extraordinary rendition, that story where we turned tortured prisoners back over to their Iraqi captors...I could go on; you get the idea.

So if you're not strongly pro-life, I don't understand why you would possibly support the guy. I'm not even dealing with the domestic policies because they're a self-evident disaster. My husband is about to get his economics Ph.D. from one of the better programs in the country. No one in his department, or the other departments he knows, think Bush's fiscal policy is sane. The Medicare bill only makes sense if it's written to please to drug companies; there's no other possible rationale. His environmental record is horrendous, his energy policy can be explained only by the fact that they're hopelessly in bed with oil and coal companies. Then you have the marriage amendment....

So I just plain don't get why anyone would vote for the guy. And yes, this could very easily be me being young and hotheaded. There could be a perfectly valid reason for voting for Bush. But I haven't heard what it is; you haven't really articulated WHY you're voting for him, nor what would convince you otherwise.

"I think what is frustrating to people voting against Bush is that from our point of view, we never see our arguments really engaged. "

What is frustrating to people voting for Bush is that from our point of view every criticism of him and this administration assumes that not only are both evil, but that every reasonable person in the universe would automatically agree. But we don't agree, you see - but apparently nobody's interested in actually proving that assumption to us. It's apparently more fun to keep repeating it until we tune out in sheer self-defense, then lambast us for being so blind. (This is all generic and not pointing at any one person; I know that that sort of thing's not done here, normally, but Katherine and I are both immune from the Posting Rules.)

Are there things that I don't like about this administration? Of course; it's hardly perfect. Do I have a viable choice? Sure: it's not like Sen. Kerry will topple the country if he manages to win, after all. Is the situation enough for me to vote otherwise than Republican? On thinking of it, no. Am I checked out on the issues? Yup - well, I've done my best, at least. Do people have a problem accepting all of that? Apparently.

Is this my problem? No.

Moe

i believe the difference there is English vs metric tons. metric ton = 2204 pounds.

Is that pounds force, pounds mass, or pounds sterling?

As for the topic, waiting and seeing. How and when they materials went missing has, as far as I've been able to tell, not yet been determined.

Mike: Thank you. I appreciate the response.

Moe: I hadn't seen the pledge before. It's extraordinary (though we wish it weren't), and I respect you for posting it, and signing off on it.

I know that that sort of thing's not done here, normally, but Katherine and I are both immune from the Posting Rules.

I personally met with the UN Security Council regarding this very issue last week, and they're ok with it.

"First, these explosives were under seal and guarded by the IAEA prior to our invasion."

Which means what exactly? As we know from North Korea, 'under seal' means "until the dictator decides he wants to use it" and 'guarded' means "until the dictator decides he wants to use it".

Katherine: I've seen it conceded elsewhere that this election is all about the supreme court appointments. The rest be damned.

What is frustrating to people voting for Bush is that from our point of view every criticism of him and this administration assumes that not only are both evil, but that every reasonable person in the universe would automatically agree.

But then: you're not willing to explain why you don't think (for example) the criticisms outlined in Katherine R's post October 25, 2004 11:27 AM constitute a set of good reasons not to vote for Bush. You've said elsewhere that there are things that the Bush administration could do which would constitute a good reason not to vote for them, but - and this is not a dig, but real bewilderment: given that you appear to be okay with* an administration that stands for torturing people suspected of terrorism, it's hard to see what that would be, in real-world terms.

*Appear. Appear. Appear. If you're not okay with that, well, this is something you could explain, or not: but that's how it appears.

I spent a good six months wondering out loud (and very rudely, at times) why on earth you were willing to tolerate Bush & Co's plans to sell off most of Iraqi's industry to the highest bidder - which meant, to foreign corporations - when you considered Kerry's vote to have part of the Iraqi reconstruction paid for by Iraqi oil to be sufficient reason not to vote for Kerry. Then you finally explained that basically you didn't believe Bush & Co's plans to loot Iraq ever existed - which is a fair answer, I guess. (Not a satisfactory one. But since the plans were inarguably not carried out by the time you explained, and most likely never will be, it seemed too late to get into a massive discussion of whether or not it would have been morally okay for Bush to do it. Legally, of course, it would not.)

But the reason for my six months of rudeness (for which I do, now, apologize) was because it took you six months to explain. Granted you felt you didn't owe me any explanation**, but hell: why have a blog with comments enabled if not to discuss issues that come up?

**And you didn't. I was just deeply disturbed by your apparent hypocrisy: it would have disturbed me less in someone I had liked less.

Sebastian: Which means what exactly? As we know from North Korea, 'under seal' means "until the dictator decides he wants to use it" and 'guarded' means "until the dictator decides he wants to use it".

Which means that the IAEA seal and guards could have been seamlessly replaced by US military seal and guards - if Rumsfeld had considered that of sufficient importance to work into the plan prior to invasion. He evidently didn't.

Re my 12:14. Looks like the heels likely just dug in a little deeper. Rehnquist admitted to hospital.

Moe: "If it were up to me, we'd all just accept the fact that some of us are voting for one candidate and others of us are voting for another."

Well, me too.

Then permit me to rephrase my Carlin question in two different ways (and maybe Katherine's implicit question, too, which I'm sure could have been written from a Bush-supporter perspective as well):

So what's all the campaigning about?

Better yet: So what's all the blogging and commentating about?

Or is this like NASA sending space probes to the far side of other planets light years away -- we examine the rocks for signs of water and oxygen and decide the other place is uninhabitable?

I ask this question in the spirit of one who, I guess, manages to inhabit an uninhabitable planet.

Another question for the world at large? Am I correct in being repelled by the Bush Administration's complete lack of effort to engage the other side?

And was I correct that the other side was repelled by the Clinton's Administration's efforts for eight years to engage the other side? Some might call it triangulation; I thought it was compromise.

Is my perspective uninhabitable? Or is it yours?

Go Cardinals. What?


Which means that the IAEA seal and guards could have been seamlessly replaced by US military seal and guards - if Rumsfeld had considered that of sufficient importance to work into the plan prior to invasion. He evidently didn't.

Evidence for guards being present prior to the invasion is where, exactly?

Last report of a visit to the site that I could find was January 24. In no 2004 documents available from IAEA (that I could find) is it mentioned that the seals on this particular set of high explosives was witnessed and verified, or that anyone even checked to make sure that they were there. Instead, there's the ongoing investigation (which began back in 2002) of some missing HMX.

If anyone else has been more successful in finding any reasonably current verification that this stuff was present near the time of invasion, please do toss me a link to it.

"But then: you're not willing to explain why you don't think (for example) the criticisms outlined in Katherine R's post October 25, 2004 11:27 AM constitute a set of good reasons not to vote for Bush. "

Because it looks bloody different on this side of the fence, Jes. Absent that assumption, extraordinary rendition becomes a deeply stupid policy formulated step by convenient step by nameless bureaucrats because we've got the wrong sort of oversight. Absent that assumption, Abu Ghraib becomes a tragic reminder that American military can do disgusting things, too - but that the military also has the ability and the will to stop them once they find out. Absent that assumption, this war becomes like every other war... a mixed bag of missed chances, foolish oversights, bad choices and disasters - which are only mitigated by eventual victory. Absent that assumption, it becomes possible to admit that there are things about our foreign policy and WMD searches that are on a need-to-know basis, and we don't need to know about them right now. Absent that assumption, economic and environmental policy becomes people disagreeing with each other over what is proper responses to action.

I'll give you gay marriage: the FMA was a cynical piece of crap which pissed me off, and I don't blame gay people for not wanting to vote for the guy over that. But even there is a place for a legitimate stance: some people really don't like it when the judiciary does the legislature's job.

Look, I'm not trying to be difficult, honest to God. I know that I have my own assumptions, which is why I don't tell people how to vote. But if people want to change the mind of me - or that of other conservatives - about Bush they'll get nowhere by acting as if it's already given that he's a cad. And, forgive me, but that's the standard attitude I get in these situations. Which is, yet again, not my problem. You need to convince me; I don't need to convince you. Which means that you need to get into my headspace, not the other way around.

You may claim the same right if I ever try to persuade you of something, of course.

Moe

PS: And I have a comments section for witty banter, interesting links, silly puns, egoboo, trenchant comments, identification of flaws in logic, bad poetry and the odd gem of transcendent wisdom, of course. :)

It really isn't fair that Moe answers my questions perfectly before I even ask them.

Moe's paragraph with the word "evil" in it: My thoughts exactly in circa 1992-2000, except substitute "for Clinton" for "for Bush".

"my six months of rudeness"

Let's you and me never get in an argument.

What is frustrating to people voting for Bush is that from our point of view every criticism of him and this administration assumes that not only are both evil, but that every reasonable person in the universe would automatically agree. But we don't agree, you see - but apparently nobody's interested in actually proving that assumption to us.

Not so.

There have been plenty of comments here, from me and others, criticizing Bush on many specific matters. It is not a question proving him "evil." It is a question of showing that he is a very poor President, that his policies are unwise, his actions incompetent and disgraceful, his statements mendacious. I suggest that there has been plenty of evidence adduced here in support of that.

You clearly don't consider this evidence convincing. It's true I find that amazing, but it's not true that it hasn't been presented.

"It is not a question proving him "evil." It is a question of showing that he is a very poor President, that his policies are unwise, his actions incompetent and disgraceful, his statements mendacious."

Bernard, you have rejected 'prove' for 'show'. That is your privilege. But it leads us back to the central problem - of yours, I reiterate - that showing is insufficient. Either you are interested in proving to us that we are wrong and you are right, or you are not. If you are, then you are going to first have to understand - indeed, to emphasize with - how we perceive the situation, and frame your arguments accordingly. If you are not willing to do this, then please let us have no illusions about what is going on.

"I suggest that there has been plenty of evidence adduced here in support of that."

And I suggest that there has not. The difference is that you apparently have a desire for me to agree with you. Again: not my problem*.

Moe

*I can keep repeating this catchphrase until it becomes mantra, then cliche, then something better suited for a parrot than a man. Indeed, I'm sure that somebody thinks that I've gotten to that point, already.

Guess what? :)

Well, Moe, you can't say some of us aren't trying...

"Well, Moe, you can't say some of us aren't trying..."

True. I so want this God-Damned election to be over...

I so want this God-Damned election to be over...

I guess that depends on the definition of "over". For some, the 2000 election still isn't over.

        I so want this God-Damned election to be over...

I guess that depends on the definition of "over". For some, the 2000 election still isn't over.

And if John Dean is remotely accurate, this will make 2000 look like the model of non-partisanship.

If you are, then you are going to first have to understand - indeed, to emphasize with - how we perceive the situation, and frame your arguments accordingly. If you are not willing to do this, then please let us have no illusions about what is going on.

I take it you meant "empathize."

As I read your 12:45 post you believe that all the problems cited by Bush critics in connection with the war, torture, etc. all fall into at least one of two categories: either they are within the normal range of expected screwups or they are not Bush's fault - nameless bureaucrats (two of whom are named Gonzales and Bybee), etc.

Further, matters like economic and environmental policy are off the table for discussion since they are simply "people disagreeing with each other."

Did I misunderstand? Are those the ground rules? Then it's hard to know how you might be convinced. Maybe you could provide a clue. Clearly, you don't think that Bush has done enough things wrong to disqualify him from re-election. What, besides FMA, do you think he has done wrong? What would disqualify him in your mind?

"What would disqualify him in your mind?"

Proof of wrongdoing. Legal proof of wrongdoing. Show me signed confessions from people with names. Show me authenticated transcripts. Show me a paper trail with verifiable links to every stage of the game. Show me video/audio recordings. In short, show me something besides insinuation and innuendo, and you can start by finding somebody who's willing to come out of the shadows and saying "My name is X, and George W Bush told me to break the law - and here's my CYA proof that he did."

You know, evidence. Something's that been notably lacking so far - and you can be assured that I've been watching carefully so far.

Moe

PS: Yes, I meant 'empathize'.

Moe, if I understand you correctly, nothing short of proof of an impeachable offense would sway you to support the replacement of Bush with Kerry.

Folks, let's stop wasting our collective breath. I think it may be time for some haiku.

"Moe, if I understand you correctly, nothing short of proof of an impeachable offense would sway you to support the replacement of Bush with Kerry. "

Yes, that is correct.

"Moe, if I understand you correctly, nothing short of proof of an impeachable offense would sway you to support the replacement of Bush with Kerry. "

Yes, that is correct.

Lacking, subpoena power, an investigative staff, a budget, or even a law degree, I can't provide that.

Pretty well shuts down the argument, I'd say.

Lacking, subpoena power, an investigative staff, a budget, or even a law degree, I can't provide that.

No one on this blog can. Mahar Arar was unquestionably sent to Syria to be tortured: the extraordinary rendition provisions that Katherine documented so admirably would have made Arar's treatment legal: but if that's to be dismissed as mere "bureaucratic error": well.

The grunts who committed torture at Abu Ghraib are (rightly) being prosecuted and imprisoned. Yet it appears that no one who gave them an order is to be prosecuted, because those who gave orders were civilian contractors. This too is mere "bureaucratic error".

How many "bureaucratic errors" of this kind can one administration commit before it looks just too incompetent to be allowed to govern?

If Katherine's detailed and thorough research can't convince Moe that the Bush administration condones torture of suspects, then nothing will, short of ... well, a whistleblower.

Maybe that's why Donald Rumsfeld was allowed to keep his job... ;-)

"If Katherine's detailed and thorough research can't convince Moe that the Bush administration condones torture of suspects, then nothing will, short of ... well, a whistleblower. "

I repeat:

Show me signed confessions from people with names. Show me authenticated transcripts. Show me a paper trail with verifiable links to every stage of the game. Show me video/audio recordings. In short, show me something besides insinuation and innuendo, and you can start by finding somebody who's willing to come out of the shadows and saying "My name is X, and George W Bush told me to break the law - and here's my CYA proof that he did."

I note this because that's a bit more than a mere 'whistleblower'. :)

I don't deny that extraordinary rendition was and is a horrible idea. Or that Maher Arar went through hell. Or that Katherine did an amazing job writing up the story. Blogging at its finest, and the best work likely to be seen on this site. But you're right: absent hard evidence, it's not enough to convict this administration, and I am not going to pretend that I think otherwise.

Moe

You see--this is why I have been basically wasting my time. Nothing changes anyone's opinion.

What do you need? It was authorized by the second highest ranking official in the justice department. They still say it was the right decision. Extraordinary rendition is by all accounts authorized by an executive order. I've documented numerous other cases besides Arar's. I've got quotes from intelligence officials. Yeah, it's second hand, but these are credible newspapers. I'm working on plane records, but they're not exactly easy to obtain. I'm working on confirming that another one of detainees has shown up in Guantanamo. Then there was the House bill last week, with the provision that Dennis Hastert's spokesman said the Homeland Security department supported, that would have authorized extraordinary rendition.

I'm sorry I haven't done a more complete job--you see, they have these things called classified information laws, which the administration has complete control over. You want more? Get me an honest administration, an investigation with subpoena power, or a Congress that takes its job seriously.

If I did produce the evidence and I didn't know you personally you would probably claim I was making it up. Or you would talk about how the guy who leaked it to me had seriously compromised national security.

Calvin Trillin once joked that a candidate should use "never been indicted" as a re-election slogan, but apparently for Bush it's "never been convicted."

"If I did produce the evidence and I didn't know you personally you would probably claim I was making it up. "

You know, I get asked what I'm thinking, I try my honest best to explain it without being confrontational - and in exchange I get to have my motivations questioned. Again. And get told what I really think. Again.

I have enough to stress over in my life right now, thanks.

Katherine: "apparently for Bush it's "never been convicted.""

Not that we know of, at any rate.

Katherine: You see--this is why I have been basically wasting my time. Nothing changes anyone's opinion.

Your series of posts on extraordinary rendition were not a waste of time. They may have failed to convince die-hard Bush supporters, but they are and remain a brilliant, thorough, well-researched indictment of the Bush administration. That you can't convince a committed Bush supporter does not make your hard work a waste of time.

It's more than possible that less-committed Bush supporters may have read your posts and concluded "No, I cannot support an administration that condones torture, and this demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt that this administration does so." One thing I've learned about the Internet: more people read what's out there than ever comment.

I have enough to stress over in my life right now, thanks.

Hey Moe, look at the kittens! I'd suggest someplace you could find lots of cute pics of puppies, too, but that's probably a little too partisan right now. ;)

Josh, that's a great site. Here are partisan kittens:

kittens thinking about Bush
kittens worrying that Bush might win
kittens wishing the election would just go away
kittens trying to make it go away by sheer force of will
kittens finally managing to think about something else entirely

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