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October 30, 2004

Comments

Well you must be quite smart since that is also the quote the comes to mind when I think of our current rulers.

I keep remembering that FDR wasn't FDR before he became president, so perhaps the same might be said of Kerry. One can hope.

1. The 100,000 figure, I would now say, is probably too high. I would guess 20,000 to 30,000 based on available sources. Obviously I am no expert on either public health surveys or the toll of the Iraq war. We should count ourselves.

2. Nicholas Kristof demonstrates the disconnect between Bush's rhetoric and rhetoric more concretely.

3. Adios muchachos (y muchachas.)

My crafty Roger Clemens-esque “this is my last post, no really this is my last post, oh wait THIS is my last post, except it’s not” strategy has shifted this weblog to the left, and now our right-of-center founder has left.

Sadly, I fear you're right - though I would prefer the ObWing collective to persuade Moe back post-election and get another right-wing commentator and have you stick around, because you're an ace blogger.

Slartibartfast is still my first-choice option, of all the regular right-wing commentators to this blog, but I'm sure others can come up with other options if Slarti remains intransigant: obviously I'm not as familar with right-wing names as I am with left-wing names.

Love the Gatsby quote.

I also love the Gatsby quote, and I will offer my own endorsement:

I will either hang up my blogging spikes, or start a solo blogspot site focusing on reporting more than editorializing.

I favor the latter. (If it comes to a vote, I predict my side wins in a landslide.)

I'll volunteer to fake being right-of-center. After all, I'm pretty good at faking being far left wing when I think the discussion needs a shout from that end.

"And the rhetoric is so far out of step with the record that there must be some knowing deception as well as carelessness".

Maybe George Bush could fake being a centrist voice.

These folks are afraid of American citizens wearing harmless t-shirt slogans, so afraid that the horrible radical perpetrators are cuffed and arrested.

We are dealing with a very different, ruthless group of people here. And all we've got is t-shirt slogans. And we let them cuff us.

And by the way, I think protestors locked up in cages blocks from Democratic and Republicans events are cowards. This will stop.

Martin Luther King and Gandhi should be the model. I mean, I'd hate to see protestors start acting like the Founding Fathers.

I see via Marshall and Kos That the Bush campaign calls the Bin Laden tape "a little gift".

The Bush Administration doesn't seem to think "we're in this together".

What does one make of this rhetoric? Can it be said to be incompetent? Dumb? Careless? Mistaken?

Why do we continue to use words that fail to describe what is happening?

"a little gift"

I (and everyone here), regardless of political leanings, found the Bin Laden tape to be repugnant.

It's now "a little gift".

My gorge rises.

I'd like to second Jesurgislac's motion on Slartibartfast.

Three on one is no fair, and changes the dynamic in our comments section too much.

I don't think that its the position of the poster that affects the comments, rather the civility of the commenters. The run-up to this election seems to have combined with a certain, I don't know, familiarity, among the most frequent posters to create the atmosphere that drove Moe out.

I mean, put Kos and Redstate on the same url and you may have balance, but you surely won't have moderation, at least the moderation I thought was to be the ObiWings hallmark.

I think the discussion of 'whither ObWings' is a lot more appealing than rehashing the 1960 and 1976 elections (something Marlowe said about another country and someone being dead anyway comes to mind). I'm a relative newcomer, but I would third Slarti, though he might feel a bit more confined by being a front page poster rather than simply being a commentator (I know that I would)

I would also add that I think it is a bit off to say X drove Moe out. Moe's reason(s) are his own, and I think you should respect them enough not to use them to make points on the nature of the discourse here.

That's it. You've convinced me. I'm voting for Bush.

...

...

...

Psyche.

With all due respect to our rightwing readers...how you can read Katherine's posts and still pull the lever for GWB (and still argue that you're doing so for any reason other than who he might get a chance to put on the Supreme Court, that is) is beyond my ability to understand.

Truly, I respect and admire and actually even like all the rightwingers who comment here (wouldn't mind having a barbeque with any of you), but if there's any chance that you'll "accidentally" pull the lever for Kerry (no one can see you in there... EXCEPT FOR GOD, DON'T FORGET), please re-read Katherine's post.

I saw Bush making a prayer sign (putting his hands together) when asking folks at a rally to vote for him the other day.

I'm certainly not above the President in that respect. I'll pray too. Only I'll pray that you search your heart and search your mind and (it can't be emphasized enough) re-read Katherine's post, and consider...just consider...voting for Kerry.

Especially if you live in Ohio, or Pennsylvania, or Florida, or Wisconsin, or Michigan...oh, screw it...wherever you live.

Just give it one final consideration. Please.

I'll throw you a barbeque.

Well, I am also too apt to lose my temper in comments these days. Not a good example.

And to have good comments you need a neutral moderator who is fair to everyone. I have never, ever seen a site where posting rules were enforced neutrally without any regard to the host's ideology. It's almost impossible not to either favor your side, overcompensate and favor the other side, or just be quiet so as not to create ideological disputes about how the rules are enforced. (I usually tended towards option c.) So a balance of 3 liberals, 1 moderate, 1 conservative doesn't work in that regard either.

During the period from March 2003 to July 2003, civilian deaths numbered around 2000 as determined by Raed, a friend of Salam Pax, and no supporter of the war.

http://civilians.info/iraq/

In order to reach a 100,000 civilian death number, I assume that Nick Berg and the other hostages that were beheaded, the victims of the UN bombing, the bombings of the IP and ING are being blamed on the United States.

I personally do not accept that line of reasoning.

This site has always had a mix of "true moderates" and "true believers," but there used to be a more jovial atmosphere and more cordial comments. I think the real lurch to the left started with the addition of Edward, who simply posted much more often than his co-bloggers; the resulting imbalance attracted several Atrios-type commenters who tended to kill any sense of open-mindedness or polite disagreement, and this trend was exacerbated by the addition of hilzoy and the return of Katherine. And with the approaching election, even some of the more moderate leftish voices have shown a surprising lack of ability to understand that reasonable people may have different opinions and reach different conclusions.

Maybe with the end of the election season, the addition of one or two right-leaning co-bloggers, and an attempt on the part of all the co-bloggers to be restrained in their partisanship (and their asking the same of the commenters), this place can come closer to the description of moderation that crionna offered in a comment to this post.

Until then, though, I think the motto at the top ought to be replaced, because it's really not apt right now.

"to create the atmosphere that drove Moe out."

Barring any personal communication between yourself and Moe, and speculation along those lines seems inappropriate.


kenB: do you really think there are lots of immoderate voices around? ObWi gets a few people who swing in fresh from Kos in full battle paint, but they almost never last more than one thread. I think the slant is a result of the sheer number of commenters who oppose Bush vs a relatively smaller number that support him, note the tone. SH, Slarti, and crionna do the yeoman's work there, but the rest of the regulars seem more or less opposed. And that's probably a result of frontpage skew. There hasn't been a 'Kerry sucks' article in a while. I promise to enthusastically engage in one just after he's elected.

DaveC: In order to reach a 100,000 civilian death number, I assume that Nick Berg and the other hostages that were beheaded, the victims of the UN bombing, the bombings of the IP and ING are being blamed on the United States.

Hmmmm... Well, the Lancet did say that 2/3rds of the deaths were from air attacks - which would all be US military. Air attacks kill civilians - unavoidably. This is something many supporters of air attacks pretend not to understand or try not to think about. I don't know how many people were killed directly by US attacks - I haven't read the article and I'm not sure I'd understand the methodology. It's possible there are flaws in it. But I would be very, very surprised if it was as low as the figure on the Iraq Body Count site. I'm not defending the 100 000 figure, but according to their own account of it, any deaths from attacks on the ground (which would include the IP and ING bombings, the hostages, and so on, besides all those killed by US soldiers in ground attacks) would be 33% of the total.

It is fair to include those deaths, since their objective in the study, was (as I understand it) to measure how many people had died in Iraq following the invasion who would not have died if the US had not invaded. The US is not directly responsible, but it is indirectly responsible: those who died in IP and ING bombings would not have died if the US had not begun the process that allowed the the IP and ING to carry out their bombings with relative impunity.

kenB: In defense of Edward, no one has been more attentive to civility at this site than he, other than Katherine, Hilzoy, Sebastian, Von, and Moe. Place them in any order you like.

And I don't believe Hilzoy or Katherine exacerbate any tendency to kill openmindedness or to obstruct polite disagreement.

On the contrary, they present, as do Moe, Sebastian, Von, and Edward, cogent points of view regarding the issues, supported by research and rigorous analysis, and invigorated with passion. Folks may disagree or agree. Sometimes it gets hot.

I'm a different kettle of fish. I discern an uncivil rhetoric in the world and I've made conclusions about which direction it's coming from, on balance. In my clumsy way, I mimic that rhetoric. Maybe I mean it or maybe I don't. But maybe that attitude makes the other side consider whether they really mean what they say or whether they really understand the ramifications of their rhetoric.

You know, 35 years ago I remember sitting through some lengthy haranguing from a "student leader" in the hallway of a building we had "appropriated" to protest the Vietnam War and he kept referring to the cops and the National Guardsman outside as "pigs". After a bit, I spoke up from about six rows back (I agreed with the substance of the protest) and said "I think they look just like us. Either that, or we're pigs, too."

He said something along the lines of "you're either with us or you're against us". Then I think we issued a wordy and ill-considered manifesto.

That guy grew up to become a Republican, probably, who still doesn't like government, but who calls a different set of people names. I still think I look like them. Either that, or...

What a boring story.

I guess I am as devoted to civil rhetoric as anyone. I just come at a little differently. Some people say shh, that's not nice, could you keep it down. I point out that hey, if that's how you want it, I'm really good at uncivil rhetoric and I can shout louder than you, too, so let's see where it takes us. Let's go.

My stupidity is that I can't differentiate among venues. I get Obsidian Wings and the real world mixed up. Sometimes I hear Tom Delay say something vicious and think if I unload some dazzling viciousness on, say Sebastian, that justice has been done.

As I tell my wife, I'm not yelling at you, but you're the only one standing here. She's a sweetie. Of course, people disagree on what constitutes yelling. Visit a Chinese dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong sometime where only Chinese is spoken. It can be a very harsh-sounding language in large groups, but they are probably just asking for someone to pass the soy sauce.

My bad. I apologize. I'll try to do better in future.

(He said again)

"And thousands more Iraqi civilians are killed—as many as 100,000, we now hear."

I'd not take that figure as gospel, let alone pass it on as such. Please see here. A probable 15k-20k is of sufficient concern. Keep in mind the past history of this sort of thing, in Afghanistan recently, for example.

As for the 100,000 in the article I read, the methodology was a statistical back in and I believe the math would be around 183 people per day for nearly two years. Not even CBS could make that up. But death in five figures and up is still a horrible means regardless of the virtue, keep peeling the onion.

As for this blog, it has truly been enlightening to me. I'm a 52 year old man who has generally kept his thoughts in this arena to himself. I'm pretty confident in what comes to my mind because I'm a good listener, and have a decent BS meter. My family is blue collar with good men and stong minded women. I am not an academic, but I think a lot about what people say and their motives. Add to that a flip, glib, smart aleck personality and you know why I've been chewed out a few times here.

ObsidWi bloggers, you have a great populist leaning blog with a strong civil reputation. This world and our country needs discourse, and blogging will weigh in heavily as we've already seen. So find the balance you seek, enforce the rules and retain this valuable vehicle for good people to make passionate arguments.

Nobody ever mentions the 20000-30000 (some say 50000) iraqi conscripts that were killed during the invasion. I mean, that most of the 10 million dead of WWI were soldiers doesn't make it any less of a tragedy. They were real human beeings, not henchmen of an evil madman in a Hollywood movie*. Of course, if you don't care about civilians to begin with...
Furthermore, there is the disproportion between the american war machine and the iraqi army. Already the Kuwait war was more or less a live fire manoeuvre for the allied side; the US military's lethality has increased tremendously since then, while the iraqi army's obsolescence had been further increased by ten years of sanctions and low-level attrition warfare. Calling the invasion a war is akin to calling Wounded Knee a battle...

*makes me think of that austin powers movie scene where you see a Dr. Evil henchman's widow and children be given condoleances

This site has always had a mix of "true moderates" and "true believers," but there used to be a more jovial atmosphere and more cordial comments. I think the real lurch to the left started with the addition of Edward

I recognize what you're saying KenB. Katherine, who was the lone left voice before I joined, is much more measured and scholarly. I never attempted to replace her in that manner; it's not what I do (or even can do). I like to think I represent the passion of the left. Katherine and hilzoy represent the logic. If anything is missing in the balance here it's a more passionate right voice, but hopefully we'll have one soon.

I think you're underestimating the effect the approaching election has had here too though. Look at RedState or Kos and you'll see far less tolerance for opposing viewpoints the closer we get to Tuesday. When I first started reading blogs Tacitus and Kos had a very active dialog back and forth. Tons of folks have abandoned each of those recently.

This is a shame, really, as when I first started reading blogs, I assumed the entire point of these sites was to engage each other. To go back and forth with information, yes, but also with amusing snarks when appropriate and admissions of being wrong when appropriate. In other words...nothing is more important than the exchange of ideas. Each blogger has their own way to jump start a conversation. I use partisanship (but I do work very hard to tone down any abusive language).

I don't feel the overall tone of ObWi is less "cordial," per se. The audience is larger (as evidenced by the hit counter). More folks have had to be banned as the increase of trackbacks brings commenters used to looser standards, and again, the stakes have gotten higher the closer we get to voting day. But I've been very impressed with the way constant readers have worked to weed out the trolls and help keep it more civil here than any other blog I read.

"My crafty Roger Clemens-esque “this is my last post, no really this is my last post, oh wait THIS is my last post..."

Please say it's not so.

Prior to the war, there was a broadly circulated story that the UN sanctions on Iraq caused 50,000 deaths of children per year, and that this was the responsibility of the United States. The Hussein regime and the corruption within the UN Oil-For-Food program were given a pass.

After the first Gulf War, when the coalition forces decided not to overthrow Hussein, but to encourage the Shia to do so, over a 100,000 Iraqis were slaughtered by the Iraqi government. This to no small extent was blamed on US policy, and was actually one reason for going to war; the sanctions were possibly going to be lifted completely and with less oversight the Baathists might repeat this type of purge.

Now, the US is blamed for its indirectly causing the deaths from suicide bombings, kidnappings and the like.
Again, the terrorists are not primarily responsible because America made them do it.

It is simply a no-win situation because the idea that America is evil, and that we intended to kill those people. As always this is about intentions; everybody knows that Bush is bad, therefore he intended to kill as many people as possible, even if the casualties are one or two orders of magnitude smaller than what was predicted.

So really there is no winning this argument. If the US is involved, then it will be blamed for all the bad things that happen. Politically the only safe thing to do is ...nothing, just acquiesce to the dictators around the world. Then it's not our problem.


Post-9/11, the "America is always evil" viewpoint was overtaken by "We are all Americans." I'm not saying that would have lasted for very long, but it was something we could have, and should have, worked with.

Imagine if Bush had been honest. With anyone. Imagine if he had said something like this, "There may be WMD in Iraq; we're not sure. But here's what we do know: even if sanctions have kept Saddam contained and not much of an international threat for now, we can't keep the sanctions in place forever. Iraqis are suffering too much, as they've suffered too much from Saddam's regime. We have to move beyond the sanctions; we have to make sure Saddam is never a threat - to the world and to his own people; we have a moral and pragmatic responsibility to remove Saddam from power and give Iraq a chance for true reform."

If he had said something like that, if he had done some "hard work" to put forward a plan that had more to it than Shock & Awe & Rosepetals, if he had presented an intelligent, honestly thought out link between terrorism and terrible living conditions....and offered an intelligent, honestly thought out plan for regime change/reform... and THEN asked the world community for help - not only troops, but civil engineers, social engineers, financiers, peacekeepers, police officers, and so on and so forth...

He might (I emphasize, "might") have been able to build a real coalition. The civilized world might have responded to that kind of challenge. I think many nations and people would have loved an opportunity to embark on a real chance to prove the "peace and freedom" rhetoric we throw around so easily. It could have been something along the lines of a Marshal Plan-cum-Peace Corps mission, something the whole world could be part of that would be greater than the sum of its parts. People *love* that kind of thing.

We all know what Bush did instead: he went for the grandstanding, the rush to war, and a series of deliberate, studied insults to our allies.

"One must start as one means to go on." Bush started badly, and did so in the face of counsel to do otherwise. By never admitting error, he goes on as he began. You'd almost think he intended to fail from the git-go (and maybe that's the case; Bush's psychology is opaque to me).

But we'll never know. That pooch is thoroughly screwed.


DaveC,

Well, if America would stop invading the wrong countries and stop violently propping up horrible dictators only to turn around to violently dethrone them, these little moral issue may be limited.

By the way, I have stopped posting/trolling because the discourse around here is pretty cool...but sometimes I can't keep my fingers to myself.

I think you should respect them enough not to use them to make points on the nature of the discourse here.

Barring any personal communication between yourself and Moe, and speculation along those lines seems inappropriate.

Sorry Moe if you're out there. It seemed obvious to me why you left but that's just my opinion and should have kept it to myself. I certainly don't claim to know your mind.

Imagine if the left had not hated Bush before 9/11...

From a Michael Moore email sent out on September 12, 2001:

In just 8 months, Bush gets the whole world back to hating us again. He withdraws from the Kyoto agreement, walks us out of the Durban conference on racism, insists on restarting the arms race -- you name it, and Baby Bush has blown it all. . . . .

If only the left had hated Hussein as much as Bush.

If only Joe Wilson had not... uhmmm exaggerated...

With respect to Wilson's statement to the Washington Post about 'forged documents" involved in the alleged attempt by Iraq to buy uranium—a bombshell that is apparently in his book—Wilson admitted to the 9-11 Committee that he may have exaggerated. The 9-11 Committee found conclusively that Iraq was attempting to procure enriched (yellowcake) uranium in Africa. "

The White House knew of his mission, Wilson said, and therefore had trumped up charges about Iraq's nuclear program.

The Senate Intelligence Committee: "Because CIA analysts did not believe that the [Wilson] report added any new information to clarify the issue," the report states flatly on page 46, "they did not use the report to produce any further analytical products or highlight the report for policymakers. CIA's briefer did not brief the vice president on the report, despite the vice president's previous questions about the issue."

If only Richard Clarke hadn't lied about Bush...

transcript was released of a press interview Mr. Clarke gave in August of 2002.

RICHARD CLARKE: Actually, I've got about seven points, let me just go through them quickly. Um, the first point, I think the overall point is, there was no plan on Al Qaeda that was passed from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration.

Second point is that the Clinton administration had a strategy in place, effectively dating from 1998. And there were a number of issues on the table since 1998. And they remained on the table when that administration went out of office issues like aiding the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, changing our Pakistan policy -- uh, changing our policy toward Uzbekistan. And in January 2001, the incoming Bush administration was briefed on the existing strategy. They were also briefed on these series of issues that had not been decided on in a couple of years.

And the third point is the Bush administration decided then, you know, mid-January, to do two things. One, vigorously pursue the existing policy, including all of the lethal covert action findings, which we've now made public to some extent.

And the point is, while this big review was going on, there were still in effect, the lethal findings were still in effect. The second thing the administration decided to do is to initiate a process to look at those issues which had been on the table for a couple of years and get them decided.

So, point five, that process which was initiated in the first week in February, uh, decided in principle, uh in the spring to add to the existing Clinton strategy and to increase CIA resources, for example, for covert action, five-fold, to go after Al Qaeda.

The sixth point, the newly-appointed deputies and you had to remember, the deputies didn't get into office until late March, early April. The deputies then tasked the development of the implementation details, uh, of these new decisions that they were endorsing, and sending out to the principals.

Over the course of the summer last point they developed implementation details, the principals met at the end of the summer, approved them in their first meeting, changed the strategy by authorizing the increase in funding five-fold, changing the policy on Pakistan, changing the policy on Uzbekistan, changing the policy on the Northern Alliance assistance.

And then changed the strategy from one of rollback with Al Qaeda over the course [of] five years, which it had been, to a new strategy that called for the rapid elimination of al Qaeda. That is in fact the time line&

QUESTION: You're saying that the Bush administration did not stop anything that the Clinton administration was doing while it was making these decisions, and by the end of the summer had increased money for covert action five-fold. Is that correct?

CLARKE: All of that's correct.

If only those on the left did not so quickly believe the lies about Bush.

If only Senator Kerry had been more clear what he meant by his vote for the war...

“I voted to THREATEN the use of force to make Saddam Hussein comply with the resolutions of the United Nations.” (Sen. John Kerry, Remarks At Announcement Of Presidential Candidacy, Mount Pleasant, SC, 9/2/03)

Oh, you meant threaten, Mr. Kerry. That clears it all up for us.

If only the U.N. hadn't been running the biggest scam in history on the Iraqi people.

If only... the left had done what was right.

Blue, I'm fairly sure that sweeping comments about "the left" are against the posting rules spirit, if not letter. Perhaps you could rephrase?

Doesn't matter now.

Skins lose, that means a Bush loss fer sure. ;)

If only... the left had done what was right.

Blue, Jes has already covered how this violates the spirit if not the letter of the posting rules (generalizing this way doesn't leave room for accurate rebuttals), but given what came before this, I can see why you're doing so.

Still, you do see the pun (and hence irony [and hence impossibility]) of your statement, no?

Skins lose, that means a Bush loss fer sure. ;)

I'd take a lot more comfort from that if the Red Sox hadn't already made this a year for breaking traditions.

OT, but if you really want to see thinking outside the box, check out
Yglesias pointer to Justin Logan here

If only the left had hated Hussein as much as Bush.

What makes you think that they didn't? You do understand that Americans only get to vote for leaders and try to influence policy in this country, and not in Iraq, right?

Blue: If only Joe Wilson had not... uhmmm exaggerated...

If only George W. Bush had been as truthful, accurate, and personally courageous as Joseph Wilson.

If only George W. Bush had been as truthful, accurate, and personally courageous as Joseph Wilson.

Oh, come on now. I'm not going to say one thing against Joe Wilson's character, but I will say that much of what he asserted turned out to be inaccurate. Only a partisan would consider that between Joe Wilson and Bush - one was truthful, courageous and right and the other was quite not.

Oh, come now yourself, Mr. Cord.

Most of what passes for Wilson's lack of candor are on extremely tangential and trivial matters. Wilson's central points are not in dispute.

OTOH, Bush's lies are...well.. if you going to lie, lie big.

Only a partisan would consider that between Joe Wilson and Bush - one was truthful, courageous and right and the other was quite not.

When you compare Joseph Wilson with George W. Bush, I think it's easy to see who was more truthful, more accurate, and certainly more personally courageous.

Further, I'm still amazed that partisans like Blue frame the debate over the Plame affair in terms of whether or not Joseph Wilson lied, rather than whether or not the shadowy senior figure in the Bush administration could have been justified in betraying Valerie Plame's covert identity as an act of revenge against her husband. A traitor whom Bush has made not the slightest effort to uncover himself, though it has to be someone whom Bush sees daily - at least when he's at the White House and not on vacation.

The discussion has moved on since last night, but:

Edward, I'm glad you understood what I was saying. I certainly wasn't trying to blame anyone for anything, and I definitely agree that this site is very civil, much more than most. What I'm hoping for, I guess, is not only civility but also humility in regard to one's own political judgments -- the latter seems to be in ever shorter supply these days.

But in any case, I'm very grateful to all the co-bloggers for providing and maintaining this site. I've learned a tremendous amount from reading the informative, thoughtful, and challenging contributions from both the bloggers and commenters. My only regret is that I have a full-time job and a boss who now monitors internet usage -- so I'd be even more grateful if you all saved your best posts for after work hours, so that I wouldn't feel so compelled to endanger my career in order to check the latest offering. (Of course, after work hours it's my family that's neglected, but they don't pay my salary).

Edward,

Edward,

"If only... the left had done what was right."

That was tongue in cheek...

Jes,

Partisan isn't the right word to describe me. One I have never been a registered Republican. Two, I HAVE been a registered Democrat and Independant.

I have political beliefs that go all over the spectrum. I think it's safe to say that I'm pretty 50/50 depending on the topic.

"When you compare Joseph Wilson with George W. Bush, I think it's easy to see who was more truthful, more accurate, and certainly more personally courageous."

Do we agree that is Bush? It would have been so easy for him to let the U.N. fiddle around until Hussein amassed his WMD again.

Is this the same Joe Wilson that is so worried about his wife's covert identity that he stuck on the front page of Vanity. I think the name says everything you need to know about him...

I think (no I'm sure) that jes was referring to this
Ambassador Joseph Wilson had already earned a footnote in history before his wife was revealed as a CIA agent, prompting a furious political storm in Washington. As acting ambassador to Iraq in the run-up to the first Gulf War, he was the last US diplomat to meet with Saddam Hussein, in 1991. He very publicly defied the Iraqi strongman by giving refuge to more than 100 US citizens at the embassy and in the homes of US diplomats - at a time when Saddam Hussein was threatening to execute anyone who harboured foreigners. He then addressed journalists wearing a hangman's noose instead of a necktie. He later told the Washington Post newspaper that the message to Saddam Hussein was: "If you want to execute me, I'll bring my own [expletive] rope."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3156166.stm

Blue: we've already cleared up the "the left" being against the posting rules thing. But what you say is also not accurate. Speaking for myself, I have loathed Saddam Hussein for longer than, say, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, and I loathe him still. That did not, for me, translate into supporting the war. And whatever Michael Moore might say (and attributing his views to "the left" as a whole is exactly like attributing Ann Coulter's views to "the right" as a whole), neither I nor anyone I know on the left hates Bush more than Saddam Hussein, before or after 9/11. It's hard to see how to respond the "believed the lies" part, since you don't say which lies; but personally, I try to believe the truth, and to provide evidence for what I say.

Blue, you have to be careful using the 'L' word. Even though what you say is true and explains the bitter devisiveness in our country today, it must never be plainly stated. What you must do here is build meticulous arguments based on false pretenses and shaky facts and then claim your position is the only true possibility. You'll catch on after a while.

Blogbudsman,
I've already yelled at blue for something you posted, I'm going to try not to make that mistake again. But if you wish to not be completely ignored (at least by me) I'd recommend you use a smiley or two.

Blogbud: If you wish to speak of devisiveness--please note it's your side that equated dissent to treason.

Blue: I have political beliefs that go all over the spectrum. I think it's safe to say that I'm pretty 50/50 depending on the topic.

Is this like a variation on the principle that everyone thinks they're a moderate?

Not that I'm saying you're wrong, just that I'm amused when people (including myself) say things like this.

hilzoy: And whatever Michael Moore might say (and attributing his views to "the left" as a whole is exactly like attributing Ann Coulter's views to "the right" as a whole)...

Nah. Michael Moore's an obnoxious self-promoting jerk with a talent for polemic and an increasing ethical deficit. Ann Coulter, OTOH, is a human bilge rat who's "facetiously"* advocated torture and death against liberals, academics, college students and others with whom she disagrees. [She also has a severe ethical deficit in her reportage but that's minor compared to her other sins.] The fact that Moore's far more obnoxious should not blind us to the fact that Ann Coulter's advocated far worse things.

* I utterly despise the Joke That Is Not A Joke trope employed by Coulter and her (bipartisan) ilk. It results from an incident in my youth when my classmates were "joking" that they hoped Somalia would melt down so that it would -- and I quote -- "fuck Clinton".

[As an aside, the only part of Team America that I found genuinely unfunny was the Michael Moore stuff because, as Jesse from Pandagon noted, it completely mischaracterized his particular pathology.]

blogbudsman: What you must do here is build meticulous arguments based on false pretenses and shaky facts and then claim your position is the only true possibility. You'll catch on after a while.

Wow. If that's really what you think, why on earth do you continue to patronize this joint?

Hilzoy & Edward,

"Imagine if Bush had been honest. With anyone."

I was responding to that exagerration that was made in an earlier post with a sweeping exagerration of my own. That was partly my point.

I must admit it is hard to take the posting rules seriously when you jump on me for that kind of comment, bu you guys let this go without batting an eye...

"This has been Bush supporter philosophy from the git-go: thou shalt suspend all logic; reason not from Point A to Point B, nor shall thee notice when Point A contradicts Point B; thou shalt only applaud whatever Bush says and does. Yea, verily.

I no longer even try to comprehend it, because the only way to comprehend it is to not only go insane, which might have a certain romantic allure, but to also lose all self-respect, which has no allure at all."

Do we agree that is Bush? It would have been so easy for him to let the U.N. fiddle around until Hussein amassed his WMD again.

You mean for Bush actually to have been honest and admitted that he knew Saddam Hussein most likely didn't have stockpiled WMD justifying invasion?

LJ cites the incident I was thinking of where Joseph Wilson proved his personal courage in a way that George W. Bush never has.

Blue: "you guys let this go without batting an eye..."
Speaking for myself, I didn't catch it until way after it was written (having been off doing GOTV yesterday). I thought that when I got back I said something about it, but it might have slid by unnoticed since a lot of time had gone by.

Anarch: about Michael Moore and Ann Coulter: all I meant was that neither speaks for an entire side of the political spectrum; I chose Coulter since she was the most obvious example of 'conservative whose comments conservatives often disown' that I could think of. No further similarity intended.

hilzoy: Yeah, I gathered as much. That's just one of my pet peeves :)

Jes,

"You mean for Bush actually to have been honest and admitted that he knew Saddam Hussein most likely didn't have stockpiled WMD justifying invasion?"

Can't you just let this one go?

http://www.factcheck.org/article222.html

C'mon every major intelligence agency in the world thought Iraq had WMD that they were hiding. I'm sure you are not claiming that you knew more about Iraq's WMD than the French, British and Russians.

Couldn't you just once say that, "Bush was wrong, but we don't know that he lied."?

Doesn't the blame really lie with Hussein?

The Iraq Survey Group report, released Wednesday, is 1,200 to 1,500 pages long.

The massive report does say, however, that Iraq worked hard to cheat on United Nations-imposed sanctions and retain the capability to resume production of weapons of mass destruction at some time in the future.

"[Saddam] wanted to end sanctions while preserving the capability to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction when sanctions were lifted," a summary of the report says.

No, Blue, Bush lied. The facts are Bush ignored those experts within and without his appointed administration who told him Saddam's WMD programs didn't exist or weren't very extensive. He repeatedly exaggerated and inflated the threat.

IOW, he took the word of a known scam-artist, Ahmad Chalabi over our own nuclear weapons experts at Oak Ridge.

Take a look at Colin Powell's shameful presentation to the UN in Feb of 2003. None of the claims or assertions made by Powell have been substantiated. Not one.

Of course, the 'smoking gun' is the fact that after Baghdad fell and it was rapidly becoming apparent Iraq wasn't awash in the promised WMDs--Bush still refused to admit error. Instead, he said on 29 May 2003:

" We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said, Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They're illegal. They're against the United Nations resolutions, and we've so far discovered two. And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them."

Jes,

Do you think Bush should get any credit whatsoever for flying a jet in the Guard?

Do you think that it doesn't take a little courage to do that?

"He then addressed journalists wearing a hangman's noose instead of a necktie. He later told the Washington Post newspaper that the message to Saddam Hussein was: "If you want to execute me, I'll bring my own [expletive] rope."

Oh my... I hadn't heard that one before. But, if in the past I thought Wilson was a showman out for attention... I am certain that he is now.

He gets all the props for telling Hussein to go jump in a lake, but it also says some other things about him.

Anarch,

"Is this like a variation on the principle that everyone thinks they're a moderate?"

Not for me... I was just accused of being partisan and to me that would imply some kind of loyalty to a party, which isn't the case for me.

Hilzoy,

This is what you said:

"Howdy. I think it would be good for all of us to refrain from making blanket statements about "the supporters of X", just because it's nearly election day and I suspect people are getting a bit frazzled (I know I am.) It's not that I don't understand the temptation; it's just that I think that it's a temptation to be resisted. "

And this was CaseyL's post immediately after yours:

"Blue - Are you deliberately cherry-picking, distorting, and misunderstanding everything I said? Or are you truly incapable of comprehending what you read?

Posted by: CaseyL | October 30, 2004 09:58 PM

And that to me seems to really be a violation of the posting rules... but nothing was said.

Blue: Can't you just let this one go?

Not after the al-Qaqaa story made clear that either Bush knew in advance that there would be no stockpiled WMD to deal with, or else he was incompetent beyond any imagining - including mine. Pick one. Which do you prefer?

Do you think Bush should get any credit whatsoever for flying a jet in the Guard?

Not after he went AWOL, no. Especially not given that his motivation for learning to fly a jet was to avoid being sent to Vietnam where he might actually have to put himself at personal risk. You know - like Kerry did. Bush went for the safe option, and then ran out on his obligations.

Blue, honestly, I find it hard to give Bush much credit for flying a jet in the Guard. Was it a bit dangerous, probably? But I'll bet it was pretty fun too.

Had someone offered me the chance to join the Guard and fly a jet fighter when I was in my early 20's, I would jumped at the chance, even though there was no draft to worry about in the late 80's. I bet you could say the same thing about a lot of people. I'm sure there are plenty of 20 somethings who have no particular interest in the military, but would jump at the chance to fly a jet, even an older, mostly obsolete model like the one Bush flew. Especially if they didn't have to acutally go overseas and get shot at.

Jade,

"The facts are Bush ignored those experts within..."

Are you talking about this expert who testified in front of the 9/11 commission?

"Clarke said the president never asked him to "make it up." And Clarke admits that, he, too, thought Saddam possessed WMD. "Everybody did," said Clarke."

Ouch, that's gotta hurt when betrayed by one of your own. He seems to say one thing on T.V. and when promoting his book, but another when he's under oath. Go figure.

Blue
Oh my... I hadn't heard that one before. But, if in the past I thought Wilson was a showman out for attention... I am certain that he is now.

So you knew exactly what Jes was talking about (which is why he said '_personally_ courageous') but you chose to pretend that you didn't? Duly noted.

I'm not sure lib jap, I think I have a crush on hilzoy. Kind of a student - teacher thing. I want her to like me and I want her to question her own beliefs every now and then. Besides, it's great mental exercise. :)

Chuchundra,

I don't really disagree with you much.

Although, the people who die doing that kind of stuff might think it takes a little courage.

Which was my point.

LJ,

Could you shed a little light for me on your comment?

I don't think I did whatever it is you are accusing me of, which I am also not exactly sure what you accuse me of.

Please elaborate on what you so duly noted.

I don't think anybody looked at my cite. There were not 100,000 civilians killed. This is what Raed (friend of Salaam Pax) reported. Bear in mind that he is not a supporter of the US invasion of Iraq.

---------

IRAQI CIVILIAN WAR CASUALTIES

Covering the period of March 21 - July 31, 2003

data collection by CIVIC Worldwide
Raed Jarrar, Director of Iraq Survey

a note from the director of the survey

I was the country director of the first (and maybe only) door-to-door civilian casualties survey. Marla Ruzika was my American partner, the fund raiser, and the general director of CIVIC. Unfortunately, she didn't have the chance to publish the final results until now.

I decided to publish my copy of the final results of the Iraqi civilian casualties in Baghdad and the south of Iraq on the 9th of this month in respect to the big effort of the 150 volunteers who worked with me and spent weeks of hard work under the hot sun of the summer, in respect to Majid my brother who spent weeks arranging the data entry process, and in respect to the innocent souls of those who died because of irresponsible political decisions.

Two thousand killed, Four thousand injured.

Each one of these thousands has a life, memories, hopes. Each one had his moments of sadness, moments of joy and moments of love.

In respect to their sacred memory, I would appreciate it if you could spend some minutes reading the database file: read their names, and their personal details, and think about them as human beings, friends, and relatives -- not mere figures and numbers.

I led the volunteers in their work in Baghdad, and the nine cities of the south: Karbala, Hilla, Najaf, Diwanyya, Simawa, Nasryya, Basra, Kut and Amara through my weekly visits. I went to the north for a couple of times, and arranged some smaller-scale surveys.

The survey teams were from the local areas: I made sure to create groups that reflected the ethnical, religious and gender ratios of the targeted regions. And I designed the survey form, all of which relied on my scientific background I gained from my M.Sc. researches, and relied on the very cooperative spirits of the volunteers and of the Iraqi families. We preferred not to include the military casualties to give our survey a civilian perspective.

Civilian: anyone killed outside the battlefield, even if his original job was military (e.g. a soldier killed in his house is a civilian). Military: anyone killed while fighting in a battle, even if his original job was a civic one (e.g. an engineer killed while fighting as a Fidaee). We had primitive and simple tools of research, yet I believe our survey is credible and accountable.

I would like to thank my friend Michael Richardson, a writer and graphic designer from Northampton, MA, USA, for his huge effort in designing and publishing the casualties website.

—Raed Jarrar
Baghdad


Blue, you're right about the posting violation.
But you're wrong in your weak snark at 8:38 due to your loose use of "WMD" - those reasonable people who wrongly thought Saddam had them thought he had nasty but only very-short range chemical weapons of small importance beyond his borders plus some unpleasant tech not being proliferated. Reasonable people like Colin Powell circa 2001, before being misinformed by the admin (and allowing himself to used). Clarke put Iraq way down the list of "WMD" threats, and about that he was correct.
The latter (repeated often enough) tends to lead to the former.

Blue
Could you shed a little light for me on your comment?

Basically (and I am sorry to be so harsh, but this is my considered opinion) I think that purposely misreading someone's comments in order to make a point suggests that you are more intent on scoring rhetorical points rather than engaging in discussion that can move the subject forward. I don't have any problem with a little good natured ribbing, but when you are informed about the basis for someone's comment and then reply in the manner that you did that it was an obvious point, it simply works to lower the level of the discourse. The 'duly noted' is intended to suggest to you that I see the need to treat you as an honest participant in these discussions rapidly decreasing. In fact, given blogbudsman's rather creepy post (that seems to be intent on demeaning any opinion that hilzoy presents) I have to wonder if you and he are on a race to the bottom.

1. DaveC--I did look at your cite. It is an excellent survey, incredibly brave and thorough. But I do not think it is asking the same question as the Lancet survey. It deals with only four months out of the nineteen since the war began. It deals with only certain areas of the country, and apparently not the areas where the heaviest tolls were reported in the Lancet survey (i.e. Fallujah). I am not sure that it is an exhaustive list of all the civilian casualties even in those areas. It does not seem to be an estimate, because almost all of the 2083 victims are identified by name. And it would be logistically impossible for the volunteers to knock on every door in Baghdad& southern Iraq, wouldn't it? I am not sure the Lancet survey is accurate. I would guess it is an overestimate, as I said in the second post. The point is, it's in the tens of thousands and we've not bothered to try to find the real number.

2. I see no one's taken up my challenge to write your own endorsement in the comments. Here's a less time consuming one: what's your favorite newspaper (or blog, or magazine) endorsement for the candidate of your choice?

My new favorite is The Rutland Herald's which wins the prize for maximum shrillness in the fewest words. For example:

"It is not too harsh to say that Bush and Vice President Cheney have created a thicket of lies to justify the war in Iraq. They have said whatever is convenient to say."

"Bush appears to create policy without regard to its effect in the real world. His programs are advanced with a kind of theological certainty that does not require truthful explanation. Tax cuts are viewed as good, and a realistic appraisal of their fairness and their economic effects is beside the point. The result has been record deficits that have crippled the capacity of the federal government to carry out its responsibilities at home and abroad."

"To address the nation's persistent joblessness, both Bush and Cheney talked about their education program. Education is important, of course, but it will not help an unemployed steelworker to return to the fourth grade."

"[Kerry] would re-establish environmental protections to which Bush has taken a machete."

"[Kerry] has the understanding of diplomacy and international norms needed to establish standards that will prevent the administration from dragging the honor of the United States through the gutters of Abu Ghraib."

"The best way to understand the Bush administration is to recognize that, for all of his talk of strength, Bush is a weak leader, swayed by advisers who talk tough, hindered by his lack of experience and knowledge. Kerry brings the strength of his experience and understanding, which is real strength and not just talk."

"To return honor and trust to the office of the presidency, they ought to vote for John Kerry."

This makes their fellow Vermonter Howard Dean sound like Joe Lieberman. Ok, not quite. But if they were a Red Sox pitcher with an injured ankle they would be Curt Shrilling. etc. etc.

Blue: Partisan isn't the right word to describe me. One I have never been a registered Republican. Two, I HAVE been a registered Democrat and Independant.

Then partisan isn't the right word to describe me either: I have never been registered as Republican or Democrat.

I don't think I've been called 'creepy' before. I guess that's your version of a 'Bork'. You asked for a funny face and you got one. And Jes is not a partisan. That would imply he was for something, that he was supporting and loyal. I don't get that from his posts. Hang in there Blue. Attempting to drag these fine folks toward the middle is a valiant effort.

No, it's not my version of a 'Bork'. My apologies if I'm being oversensitive and this was just ironic humor, but I wonder if any poster would claim that they had a crush on Sebastian, Edward, or Moe and say that they were just trying to get them to think. You might as well have told Hilzoy not to worry her pretty little head about all this political stuff, that's just for us menfolk. I'm not trying to crucify you for making a joke that fell flat (lord knows I've had a number of lead balloons), but if you think it is funny, you may want to reconsider.

Dear left leaning mosquito, people in my family wouldn't even entertain such thoughts. And I was truly speaking with some irony, not as a joke. The more I say I respect Hilzoy (and I apologise to you, Hilzoy, for talking about you and not to you), the more you guys rush to her defense. I doubt if she needs defending.

Hilzoy, you are the reason I return from time to time , along with Sebastian. With your ethics background and your structured arguments (that I most often disagree with), I find it great mental exercise to engage in your discussions. And, I'd be pretty easy to get rid of. All anyone would have to say is you don't welcome discourse of my style (whatever that is) and I'd fill my busy day with something else. If this blog can succeed working it's way back to the middle, it'd be more fun.

lj,

"but when you are informed about the basis for someone's comment and then reply in the manner that you did that it was an obvious point, it simply works to lower the level of the discourse."

I asked once already, but I will ask again. Could you please be more specific about what you are actually talking about?

Normally, I would just ignore this as someone being obnoxious... but since I have never exhibited the behavior that you describe... I want to know what you are talking about.

Maybe this:
"Oh my... I hadn't heard that one before. But, if in the past I thought Wilson was a showman out for attention... I am certain that he is now."

Is that what you are referring? If you go back and read my post before you will see that I said:

"Is this the same Joe Wilson that is so worried about his wife's covert identity that he stuck on the front page of Vanity."

I think if you weren't looking for evil intent, then you wouldn't have found any... notice that I stated I hadn't heard that one before. Because I hadn't, but if I had I would have known that the expose on Vanity was par for the course for such a shameless attention seeker.

But your scepticism has been duly noted.


Jes,

I never called you partisan... I don't think you are partisan. If I had to make a guess I would call you left wing.

Jade,

"The facts are Bush ignored those experts within and without his appointed administration who told him Saddam's WMD programs"

More than 1,000 voter registration forms and absentee ballot requests may be fraudulent in Lake and Summit counties, where investigations of irregularities are broadening.

Lake County Sheriff Daniel Dunlap said Thursday that he will investigate an attempt to register a dead person and other possibly fraudulent documents that were submitted to the Lake County Board of Elections.

Dunlap also said he has notified the FBI and the Ohio secretary of state.

"We want to make sure the election here in Lake County is the best possible," Dunlap said. "I don't know if this was a concerted effort or if it was just an overzealous, independent person here and there who decided to push the envelope."

Elections officials have said hundreds of absentee ballot applications and dozens of voter registration cards are in question. Lake County Prosecutor Charles Coulson, also involved in the probe, said the problems are more significant than originally thought.

"We've seen voter fraud before, but never on this level," Coulson said Thursday. "I grew up in Chicago and this looks like the politics of Mayor Daley in the '50s and '60s."

Lake election and law enforcement officials said their investigation is centered on absentee registration attempts by the nonpartisan NAACP's National Voter Fund and an anti-Bush, nonprofit group called Americans Coming Together, or ACT Ohio.

The National Voter Fund could not be reached Wednesday or Thursday at its Washington, D.C., offices.


I wonder if on Wednesday I will be referring to the FRAUDULENT ADMINISTRATION... If next year I will be referring to the FRAUDULENT ADMINISTRATION. If stinking 4 years from now I will STILL be talking about the FRAUDULENT ADMINISTRATION. I hope I am better than that. I hope that all those who don't vote for Kerry are better than that.

CaseyL, I've been thinking about your 10/31/1:40pm post which sums up It could have been something along the lines of a Marshal Plan-cum-Peace Corps mission, something the whole world could be part of that would be greater than the sum of its parts. People *love* that kind of thing.

IMHO something like that might easily have been portrayed as another crusade and the failure to create such a coalition shown as a weakness in the West overall and the US in particular engendering even more terrorism here. I think in retrospect that the war as prosecuted gave a lot of cover to those governments involved with Hussein as a business partner and those governments who may have felt bound by their citizenry to help him defend Baghdad against a crusading West. As it was, (and I don't think this was "planned") these people were able to sit it out and await the aftermath. I think in the end it ended up costing fewer lives and damage than might have been the case otherwise. A wider war was and hopefully is (in my mind) being averted.

Blogbudsman,
I don't make decisions on who stays and who goes here, I am just noting that there is a difference between saying that you appreciate the logical structure of someone's argument and claiming that you have a crush on them. Even though I am sure that Hilzoy can defend herself more than adequately, I still don't think it is appropriate. If I want to watch bar fights, I'd go to Tacitus.

Blue,
I am not looking for evil intent. I noted that Jes specifically said _personal_ courage and noted the specific example that Jes was talking about and Jes said, yes, that's it. I've looked at those comments and I don't see any snark in them. You return with the line you quote
"Oh my... I hadn't heard that one before. But, if in the past I thought Wilson was a showman out for attention... I am certain that he is now."

I was assuming that the 'Oh my...' was essentially equivalent to 'Duh!' implying that we were rather stupid to be raising such points as it was obvious that you knew it and we should have realized that Wilson was just an attention seeker. But, if you really didn't know this, I really have to wonder if there is any fact that can be presented to you that would change your position. I have a feeling that if Joseph Wilson used his flamboyance to defend Bush, you wouldn't think he was a gaudy attention seeker but a lonely apostle of the truth.

Finally, I would note that no one would benefit if those editors on the left here were 'dragged back to the middle' because, in my experience, people dragged somewhere don't like to be there and inevitably head straight back to where they were dragged from. They (and the rest of the readership) _would_ benefit if you would present information that refutes their points rather than simply bringing up non-sequiturs like you do in response to Jadegold's point. It would also do a lot to reduce my scepticism, if that is of any interest.

LJ,

Let me get this straight...

You think I said something that related to this comment you made:

"Finally, I would note that no one would benefit if those editors on the left here were 'dragged back to the middle' because, in my experience, people dragged somewhere don't like to be there and inevitably head straight back to where they were dragged from."

But, I didn't!

Then you add:
"..if you would present information that refutes their points rather than simply bringing up non-sequiturs like you do in response to Jadegold's point."

Englighten me... what was Jadegold's point?

And it was actually Jes not Jade who said:

"If only George W. Bush had been as truthful, accurate, and personally courageous as Joseph Wilson."

And to quote even yourself:

"I think (no I'm sure) that jes was referring to this"

I think it's safe to say you really need to read who the posters are more carefully and maybe the actual posts themselves.

LJ says:
"I was assuming that the 'Oh my...' was essentially equivalent to 'Duh!'"

If I had meant Duh, I probably would have said Duh! Isn't this really a good example of you changing what someone is saying to fit your own viewpoint of that person?

We should probably just move on. You know nothing about me and you don't seem to be able to keep the posters straight and you misinterpret what they say.

It's all been duly noted.

Blue,
I apologized for the mistake. If you refuse to accept that apology, that is your call. I note that you confused me and rilkefan, but I guess it is only a talking point if the other side does it. Again, duly noted.

I will also admit that I know nothing about you and I apologize if you think that I have suggested otherwise. I have speculated that you have never lived in a barter society, and you said no you have, but lacking any other information (as well as a refusal to acknowledge my point about a barter based society) I will draw my own conclusions and allow others to draw theirs.

LJ,

Wow, some apology:

" apologized for the mistake. If you refuse to accept that apology, that is your call. I note that you confused me and rilkefan, but I guess it is only a talking point if the other side does it. Again, duly noted."

I did realize about confusing you with rif, but it was so quickly corrected and my comment was so benign I didn't think the clarification relevant.

As far as the barter society... Costa Rico and Turkey... but I thought your point was really irrelevant so I didn't respond. Not to be mean, I just didn't think it was worth my time.

I have to run off to GOTV but can I suggest those clashing heads here take a step back and a deep breath? Much of this seems to me to be a classic case of miscommunication that would be better solved by cooler heads than entrenched defenses.

Which, really, is a truism I wish more people -- myself most definitely included -- would adopt more of the time.

Having slept on it, I think you are absolutely right, Anarch. I unreservedly apologize for confusing you and blogbudsman. I did my best to explain why I responded as I did to your comment on Joe Wilson, but I'll stop because I'm clearly not explaining my point, which is my fault not yours. Don't take my cessation as a dismissal, simply an acknowledgement that I'm not making things any better.

I also hope that you will bring into the blog (but not this thread as it has moved down sufficiently that it is difficult to track) your experiences in Costa Rica and Turkey as I think that would add an important dimension to these discussions.

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