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June 21, 2005

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Sort of like Osama's pre-election videotape ...

... Sigh. Yet ANOTHER choice as to whether Bush is ignorant or Machiavellian.

Anderson: Yet ANOTHER choice as to whether Bush is ignorant or Machiavellian.

I know. It's really, really hard to believe that a whole bunch of people could be this dunderheaded. And I suppose if we're going the conspiracy route, Bush & Co might have figured that if the reformers did well in the election, it took away a part of their public excuse for invading.

I just find it hard to believe conspiracy theories except inside thrillers.

I just find it hard to believe conspiracy theories except inside thrillers.

Me too. But it does help one to understand the angst that drives people to doubt Darwinism, for instance. "Surely there's a plan here?"

A single faux-clever tactic, as you describe, is more plausible than an all-out conspiracy. But again, I think you're right, and there's just no one in Bush's circle who can/will point out the blindingly obvious to him.

Utter speculation, but I go for the following hypothesis: they are clueless about diplomacy. They do, however, know that there's a significant part of their base who respond to the rhetoric in this statement, whether it's a good idea to use it at any given time or not, and who also respond to the suggestion that we should not say things that are flat-out counterproductive by thinking: that's just the sort of namby-pamby, please-everyone rhetoric we'd expect from liberals. (Or something.) And knowledge of the domestic consequences of their statements trumps any concerns about its international implications.

Someone commented in one of the recent Bolton threads that he seemed motivated by the requirement that there be no restraint on US power, whether or not anything would be gained by having it. Same deal here, I think. I recognize the whiff of managerial posturing, dismissing the eggheads and their warnings because real men can make it work and hey, that's what the flunkies are for if there's a problem. It's not precisely stupidity - some of these people are really smart, and keep track of enormous quantities of both data and analysis. It's bad logic and bad attitude.

I would like to revise my explanation to incorporate Bruce Baugh's. (Yes: my views are, in fact, the Borg. Prepare for assimilation ;) )

Oh, it's one other thing, too.

When I find myself dealing with a really aggressive flaming idiot, I sometimes ask my stock questions. "Do you find that this approach works? If so, would you mind telling me about occasions when it's worked? Would it persuade you? Even if it would, don't you see that it is in fact not persuading a bunch of the people you say you'd like to reach? And if it's not working, and if other techniques would, why are you keeping this up?"

This is again not stupidity, but folly. It's very often also a manifestation of untreated depression - that kind of obsessive self-undermining behavior is a characteristic of damaged neurochemistry. It's no more innately a moral failing than not being able to sprint when you have a broken leg. Fault comes only when you keep refusing chances to get it understood and fixed.

Iranians dislike our government intensely,

You know, one of better points, IMO, that Tom Friedman has made (before turning into the current weirdo he is now) was that of all the middle eastern countries, only in Iran did people show support for the US after 9/11, and that was because they did not blame us for their current government. Unfortunately, it appears that through the invasion of Iraq, Bush has managed to turn that completely around.

I keep wondering if some giant world-wide catastrophe is just around the corner. A mis-step here or there and we could be simultaneously trying to defend Taiwan from China, South Korea from North Korea, and Iraq from Iran (while worrying about the insurgents). Not to mention a militant coup in Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan going to war again (though that seems much less likely these days), not to mention other trouble spots around the world...ack.

What I still can't believe is what a good friend of the Islamic Republic GWB has turned out to be. Completely and for a very long term neutralizes their principal enemy, puts their proxies in power in Afghanistan, gives them all the excuse they'll ever need (in the eyes of enough members of the UNSC to matter) to pursue a nuclear deterrent, oil over $50, a new mandate with a discrediting of the reform movement. What more does Iran want from its foreign policy? Are there any other strategic goals we can help them with?

knowledge of the domestic consequences of their statements trumps any concerns about its international implications.

Exactly. For some reason the Dems get tagged for not having a foreign policy, but the ruling batch of Repubs have NO CLUE how diplomacy works.

CharleyCarp: Yes, that's also been, for me, one of the enduring mysteries of this administration's foreign policy. And one of the tragedies: I have thought since the Iranian revolution was that one of its few silver linings would be that the Iranian people would get to figure out for themselves why democracy was better than theocracy. I'd rather they got there by some other route, but at least, I thought, they will get there eventually. It seemed to me that this process was well under way when we started handing the hard-liners one gift after another. Now I think it has been set back for at least a decade; not to mention that petite problem with the nuclear weapons.

And add to that Richard Clarke's statement, with which I also agree: "Nothing America could have done would have provided al Qaeda and its new generation of cloned groups a better recruitment device than our unprovoked invasion of an oil-rich Arab country. Nothing else could have so well negated all our other positive acts and so closed Muslim eyes and ears to our subsequent calls for reform in their region. It was as if Osama bin Laden, hidden in some high mountain redoubt, were engaging in long-range mind control of George Bush, chanting 'invade Iraq, you must invade Iraq,' " (Against All Enemies, p. 246.) Presents all around, to all the wrong people.

There look to be at least two explanatory options. One, this Administrations is unbelievably incompetent, and simply cannot help shooting itself in the foot wherever possible. Or two, they've looked at their party and the existing ideological and policy structure in place, and decided to create a crippled new enemy for us to oppose. I'm pretty sure the second would be worse, but I'm not sure how much worse.

jes - I think it's safe to say that Bush is not engaging in any kind of conspiracy. The strongest indicator of willingness to engage in conspiracies (at least in politics) seems to be a belief that other people are successfully engaged in them. It makes sense, since if you believe conspiracies work for others, why should they not work for you?

I've seen no sign of Bush behaving as if he sees conspiracies around him. Some of the neocons, OTOH, seem to think that Saddam was a very effective conspiracist, so I wouldn't put it past them to try a little conspiring behind the scenes.

Or two, they've looked at their party and the existing ideological and policy structure in place, and decided to create a crippled new enemy for us to oppose.

I wouldn't call Iran crippled.

some random thoughts upon returning from Jamaica (why yes, it was great, thanks for asking).

my dad is one of a very few select group of people who was personally called a great satan by ayatollah khomeni. (he was a lead negotiator for the consortium of american banks during the hostage crisis.)

we really have to stop making such gifts to our enemies. in addition to the ongoing bloodbath in iraq and a resurgent taliban in afghanistan and a revitalized conservative govt in Iran, we have Condi Rice pressing for free and fair elections in Eygpt, at a time where the certain victor in free and fair elections would be the virulently anti-american and anti-israel Muslim Brotherhood.

i miss the clinton years; the stuff we were fighting over then was so much less serious.

so now that the iranians have the political capital to go nuclear, what happens next? do we launch targeted strikes and risk WWIII? Or does Bush diplomacy fail us again?

Francis: we name John Bolton special ambassador to Iran, ha ha ha.

And how was Jamaica?

I wouldn't call Iran crippled.

All things are relative. They'll never be a serious threat to national integrity, as was the USSR. Of course, that band looks like it might get itself back together or Bush's watch, too.

Bush deserves part of the blame, but I don't believe is a sufficient explanation of the conservative landslide.

Perhaps, just maybe the Iranian people are less reformist and more conservative and nationalistic than we have been led to believe?

They're mostly ex-MBAs. It was a boasting point, the MBA administration. MBA executives may have people make plans for years, but they really care about what happens in the short term, like tomorrow. Any perceived immediate positives will always be chosen; as Bruce said, any future negatives can be managed around or delegated to subordinates.

Or they really are planning to bomb Iran next month.

Jamaica was lovely; the all-inclusive resort we went to has hired staff that have a tremendous ethic for ensuring that the tourists are enjoying themselves. The food was quite good; the service impeccable; the weather as to be expected in the tropics in June -- occasional showers. Also, because we went to a no kids resort, hey no kids! Calm and relaxing and quiet and elegant (and a little pricey, but that's the advantage of being in a DINK family).

Now, Bolton as ambassador to Iran, that's not even funny.

mostly, i'm fishing for a response from SH. He's the only one of the regulars here who advocates consistently for a military response to prevent Iran going nuclear. Since the Iranian hardliners just got a huge boost, I wouldn't be surprised to hear increased saber rattling from the US.

[now, a true paranoid would say that Bush's speech was timed by the neo-con faction (cheney et al) to create a surge of support for the Iranian hardliners, to justify an american "preventative" strike some time this year. unfortunately, i'm getting very close to being a true paranoid. on the other hand, i suspect that a fair chunk of the DOD has got to be arguing against strikes against Iran, on the grounds that we have no idea where that war would go or how we would control it.)

Well, Don Rumsfeld did just say "I think the US is notably unskillful in our communications and our public diplomacy.”

This interesting debate regarding the essential nature of the Bush people will befuddle us no end. Hopefully, we'll have time to enjoy the befuddlement.

Here's my take (today). These are Americans in the mold of those American characters in Graham Greene novels. Was it in "The Comedians" where the American missionary, spouting platitudes in the nasty Haiti of Duvalier finally leaves, flummoxed by the natives' inability to understand his message? Hapless, he flings his remaining dollars into the air for the beggars to retrieve before embarking. Or maybe the "Quiet American".

Reminds me of a soccer coach (I was assistant) my kid had a few years ago. A fine Christian capitalist American (nothing wrong so far) who one time thought maybe the kids and parents should pray for a god------ goal, those being scarce for 7-year-olds. No way, said the Jewish parents. Ten minutes later, he figured a $5 reward (not clear what the subtext was) for the first goal would work. No way, said some other parents, probably heathens and welfare folks (my people).

This Newt Gingrich in the works was also a Republican County Commissioner who cut taxes to the bone and slashed social spending at the county level. Went on to resign after he instigated a tawdry spectacle of political vengeance, using his wife and friends as pawns.

The guy was as idealistic as Wavy Gravy (remember him) and as vengeful as the mother alien trying to eat Sigourney Weaver in "Alien", when folks didn't immediately adopt his rules for the world.

Thus Bush. Thus Delay. Thus Bennett. Thus Bolton. Remarkable that they found each other and started a movement which has infested the U.S. Government. Do as they believe or get down on your knees and pray before they nuke you. Very dangerous people.

Ever see Robert Mitchum in "The Night of the Hunter"?
Buckshot to the ass put him away.

And knowledge of the domestic consequences of their statements trumps any concerns about its international implications.

My hypothesis also. This was done as to shore up the Iraq "strategy" without much thought to how it might afffect Iran, or with no concern even if they did think about it.

Also, although Bush has applied mild pressure to the Egyptians regarding their rigged elections, he will not make a similar speech about Egyptian elections. And the Saudis?

Brother Francis: " arguing against strikes on the grounds that we have no idea where that war would go or how we would control it."

Arguements which, by the way, haven't stopped Bushco thus far.

I wouldn't be so trusting of Iranian voter turnout numbers, Hil. Publius Pundit has pictures of polling places and they're empty:

Here’s what I wrote a month ago when Moin was first approved.
This will not make much of a difference in the outcome, however, and the mullahs know this. The problem for the regime is not that they’ll lose the election, but that people may simply reject them by not showing up to vote. By allowing two reform candidates to run, they are hoping that it will draw larger crowds out than they otherwise would.
Sometimes I hate being right. As for the regime, they were dead wrong. Even Moin did not bring out the crowds that they needed for legitimacy. That’s when the regime mobilized.

Fearing a complete shut out, they extended the voting time by four hours, saying that the lines were so long that it was necessary. Meanwhile, they broadcasted images and video from previous elections. They made several polling places too small so that lines were forced to develop outside. The journalists, who had to be accompanied by a regime agent and could only go where permitted, only saw these stations.

Yet, they continue to report as if they know with authority what the hell is going on. The regime is playing the media like a greased harmonica. All that they can really report is “The Interior Ministry says turnout is this high,” or “The Guardian Council says it’s higher,” without ever being able to investigate outside of their hotel rooms if that is true or not.

It’s because of this that the real story isn’t getting out of Iran: Almost nobody voted. It was a total rejection of the Islamic government. The regime has zero legitimacy.

Opinionjournal:
The one number worth parsing in Friday's election is that of voter participation. Many Iranians had called for a boycott as the only way of showing resistance. Knowing this, the mullahs seem to have taken their usual election manipulations to another level. Intimidation by the Revolutionary Guards and the fact that proof of voting is needed for certain jobs and welfare payments have always pushed up turnout. Still, voter participation has steadily declined in the past few years to barely 50%.

But this time turnout was 62.7%, exactly the level Supreme Leader Khameni had predicted.

When you disqualify 1,000 candidates--allowing only the ones who support the current regime's ideology--the result is a farce. Michael Ledeen:
The regime had made it clear that the size of the turnout would indicate its legitimacy with the public, so they had to come up with big numbers. After hours of hilarious confusion, during which the "official" numbers oscillated wildly and different vote totals were announced by the interior ministry and the Council of Guardians, the regime finally decided to claim that something like 65 percent of eligible Iranians had voted. But most clear-eyed observers with the freedom to move around the country and actually go to polling places, found very few voters. The Mujahedin Khalq, the longtime allies of Saddam Hussein who have long been a source of information on things Iranian, estimated that the real figure was about 10 percent. If you read The Scotsman, for example, you hear things like this:
...at a polling station in...an affluent suburb of northern Tehran, only 150 voters had arrived by mid-afternoon. "We have been given 1,000 ballot papers, so it seems the turn-out has been a lot lower than expected," said Mohsen Jannati, the school’s headmaster, who supervised the voting.
The lowest participation — maybe as low as 3-5 percent — was in Khuzestan Province, where there had been bombings and protests in recent weeks. But anecdotal evidence from all over the country indicated a very low turnout, as of late afternoon. Despite this, the mullahs trotted out rosy reports of big voter turnouts, and even broadcast "live" TV coverage of voters queued up, waiting patiently to make their voices heard.

The only problem was that the pictures were from past elections. One woman called up a Tehran radio station to say that she was sitting at home watching the tube, and saw herself voting. Very droll indeed.

Realizing that a major fiasco was brewing (a source inside the interior ministry informs me that just before closing time, only seven million people had voted) the regime mobilized its forces. First they announced that the closing time would be extended by several hours. Then the Revolutionary Guards and the fanatical Basijis (the religious paramilitary force) started rounding up their followers, along with governmental employees and anyone who could be blackmailed or intimidated (students were told that they could not attend university unless they voted), and dragged them to the polls. Even so, by early morning the regime — which had millions of blank ballots in reserve, in order to produce whatever outcome they desired — was staggering about, trying to decide what it should announce. Differing results came out of different buildings, and the top candidates accused one another of fraud, and worse...

...As best I can tell, the real numbers are quite different from the official ones. Roughly seven million people voted under normal circumstances, between the opening bell and the official closing time. But there were approximately 29 million ballots, a difference of 22 million. Of these, about five million were produced by the late evening roundups (bringing the total of actual voters to twelve million), and the balance — 17 million — were fraudulent, mostly blank ballots filled out by the representatives of one candidate or another. This out of an eligible pool of about 51 million (remember that the voting age in Iran is 14 years).

The Iranian election was phonier than a $3 bill. The Iranian people like the United States, it's the increasingly illegitimate government that hates us. How is the government responding to charges of fraud and vote rigging? Certainly not by opening up the process. IHT:
The hard-line religious leadership in Iran, striking back at a former speaker of Parliament who accused conservatives and the military of rigging the presidential election, has shut down two newspapers that planned to publish the charges. The leadership also warned in a statement by the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that it would not "allow anyone to create a crisis."
Can't have those pesky reporters or election observers sniffing around. Reza Bayegan is right: This electoral sham was a choice between purgatory and hell.

xanax:

targeted strikes by the israelis worked against Saddam over 20 years ago. maybe they'll work again. frankly, i'm not so sure. we have a lot of troops in harm's way a long way from home. reading between the lines, it seems to me that the US has essentially stopped all foot patrols and really beefed up the armor on vehicle patrols, reducing the effectiveness of the IED tactic. but if there is a whole new level of outrage as a result of new airstrikes, the insurgency could regain substantial strength.

for example, even if they do nothing else, the iranians could become a conduit for anti-armor weapons to the iraqi insurgency. If you were the iranians, wouldn't you?

if those strikes are launched, i'm going to need a lot of drugs bearing your handle.

More on the sham election from Human Rights Watch:

"Iran’s elections for all practical purposes are pre-cooked," said Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East Division. "The Guardian Council appoints a few candidates, and then Iranians get to choose from this very restricted list."

The Guardian Council enjoys arbitrary powers, known as "approbatory supervision [nizarat-e istesvabi]," allowing it to disqualify candidates even if they meet the discriminatory criteria stated in the election laws.

In practice, the Guardian Council has consistently approved only candidates that are "insiders" from within the ruling circle. More than a thousand candidates registered for the June 17 presidential elections, but the Guardian Council approved only eight, all of whom former or present government officials.

In this year’s presidential election, 89 women registered their candidacy, but none were approved. The Guardian Council has interpreted the criteria that presidential candidates be "religious or political personalities" to exclude women categorically.

The editors at the Globe and Mail are right: Iran's election is a fraud. What did my group AI say about the election? Nothing. RSF reports on the muzzling of three media outlets by the mullahs.

Ever see Robert Mitchum in "The Night of the Hunter"?
Buckshot to the ass put him away.

Posted by: John Thullen | June 21, 2005 08:12 PM


I think I love you.

What did my group AI say about the election? Nothing.

-given that AI, while noting that fair and free elections are intimately related to human rights, doesn't, I'm led to believe, monitor elections (here are their comments about Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, quote from the latter Amnesty International is not an election observer, either in Ethiopia or elsewhere, but it calls for human rights to be protected in the election process and for human rights issues to feature prominently in it.)
-given that the elections occurred within the past week
-given that the Globe and Mail article called the election a fraud before a single vote was cast

it comes as no surprise that you would write what you did. Next, you'll be demanding to know why the Red Cross and Médicines sans Frontières haven't called for an end to neo-Salafi rhetoric.

Michael Ledeen?

After his wild claims conserning Iraq and Hussein, his "character" leaves something to be desired.

Charles, you have a point. This could be used against the current government, that they held a sham, rigged election.

Assuming that they weren't handed the priceless propaganda gift that they were.

The last time I looked into one of Charles Bird's collections of links on a topic, it turned out that what he was linking to included complete lies - simply doctored quotes to make it look like people were saying something they weren't. When this was pointed out, he just denied it. Ironically enough, the collection of links was supposed to show that a certain journalist wasn't credible.

Maybe what Charles is linking to this time is accurate, maybe it isn't. Considering what he has linked to before and his reaction when it was pointed out that his references were inaccurate, I won't waste my time researching it, there are other places to look for the facts.

There are many facets to the Bush administration's self-delusions (see E.J. Dionne this a.m.). And here's another of them.

I think Bush actually believed that by saying what he did, he would give comfort and inspiration to the reformists in Iran. That's how much he's in the bubble.

He reasons that there are many people in Iran who would like freedom and democracy, and so far he is right enough. But then he falsely believes that he represents the nation that represents freedom and democracy to the world, and so can speak for those values.

He just doesn't realize how thoroughly his presence has poisoned the brand, how people in Iran, even people who are fed up with the mullahs, can hate him more than they love democracy, and come to distrust the word "democracy" when it comes out of his mouth.

He still thinks that he is like JFK, standing in solidarity with the citizens of Berlin, giving them inspiring leadership. He is that deluded about how he is viewed by the world.

I offer this explanation not such much to disagree with other explanations offered above, as to supplement them.

I think Bush actually believed that by saying what he did, he would give comfort and inspiration to the reformists in Iran. That's how much he's in the bubble.

As pointed out above, Bush not made the same type of statements about Saudi Arabia or Egypt. What is the difference between them? Other than the fact that Iran is the next country Bush wishes to invade, I mean.

"for example, even if they do nothing else, the iranians could become a conduit for anti-armor weapons to the iraqi insurgency. If you were the iranians, wouldn't you?"


Posted by: Francis / Brother Rail Gun of Reasoned Discourse


1) A sh*tload of anti-armor weapons (Dragon/Milan/TOW or more modern, with 1-3 KM range and the ability to rip anything but an M-1 tank).

2) A sh*tload of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons.

3) Trainers who can show how to use them, both technically and tactically.

4) Special forces help, in terms of aiding the guerrillas.

5) Causing uprisings of whatever militias they have influence over.

6) Harrassement actions in the Gulf (probably minor).

All in all, it could make for a nasty war, especially if the Sunni/Baathist guerrillas see what's going on, and mount an offensive of their own.

The last time I looked into one of Charles Bird's collections of links on a topic, it turned out that what he was linking to included complete lies - simply doctored quotes to make it look like people were saying something they weren't. When this was pointed out, he just denied it. Ironically enough, the collection of links was supposed to show that a certain journalist wasn't credible.

Which links, felix?

Why would you accept the statements from the Iranian government--particularly when their legitimacy hinges on election turnout--when they refuse to allow access to international election observers?

it comes as no surprise that you would write what you did.

Agreed that their primary task isn't election observation, LJ, but you can also say the same for HRW. When the mission of AI is for every person to enjoy all rights under the UNDoHR, seems like my organization should take more than a passing interest. Maybe I'll send them an e-mail.

Michael Ledeen

On June 24, 2004, President Bush was interviewed on Irish TV's Prime Time. This is the famous "let me finish" clip.

The show included a segment where Michael Ledeen appeared alongside Congressman Richard Neale addressing Iraq. It's a very good discussion and you can get a very clear understanding of Michael Ledeen from this brief appearance. On the show Ledeen says we should have attacked Iran first, not Iraq.

CB probably should have pointed out that the Globe and Mail link is to an op-ed piece. He should have also probably pointed out that Ledeen is the author of the famous Ledeen Doctrine: that the US should pick up some shitty little country every ten years or so and throw it against the wall.

Nevertheless, it is certainly the case that Iran has learned how to play the sham democracy game better than most authoritarian countries.

But i thought the art of diplomacy involved making hard choices. It's pretty easy to beat up Eygpt over elections; we give them billions in military aid and don't need much in return. It's harder to beat up the Saudis over elections; they control oil.

but it's really truly PROFOUNDLY stupid to beat up an authoritarian country over elections WHEN WE WANT THEM TO STOP BUILDING NUKES!

Christ almighty, CB, have you EVER been in a negotiation? has anyone ever told you that sometimes you have to give something up, even something you believe is very valuable, in order to get something that you value more highly in return?

I would have thought that getting nukes out of Iraq would be more important than making points about democratic elections; but that's just me.

Which links, felix?

The link to a blog post doctoring quotes from Greg Palast in order to try to smear him, for example.

When the mission of AI is for every person to enjoy all rights under the UNDoHR, seems like my organization should take more than a passing interest. Maybe I'll send them an e-mail.

Anything to keep them distracted from complaining about people being abused or tortured, I suppose. Way to keep them focused on the mission.

Unverified and literally unverifiable election results are just fine for the US, we're told. I'm not clear on why Iran should have to meet a higher standard than Ohio.

I once would have said that sarcastically, but on reflection I've decided that I mean it. I genuinely don't see the point of kvetching about honest elections elsewhere when we won't run clearly, provably honest ones ourselves, nor apply the well-established indicators of electoral manipulation to ourselves. One of the things I retain from my libertarian days is a belief in the principle of neutrality: what I do, I endorse as right and fitting for all.

I don't think anyone who commends to my attention the elections of 2000, 2002, and 2004 here in the US has any standing to criticize anybody else's elections until and unless they give up the domestic endorsement.

It's really, really hard to believe that a whole bunch of people could be this dunderheaded.

No, it's not.

"Charles, you have a point. This could be used against the current government, that they held a sham, rigged election.

Assuming that they weren't handed the priceless propaganda gift that they were."

This is getting so typical around here. All the evidence points toward Iran fixing the elections for months and then you blame the result on Bush? Give me a break.

"Unverified and literally unverifiable election results are just fine for the US, we're told. I'm not clear on why Iran should have to meet a higher standard than Ohio. "

And this is why I don't post anymore. If you think the Ohio elections are virtually indistinguishable from an election where a huge percentage of the candidates were kicked out before the race you are allowing relativist rhetoric to get way out of hand.

This election was fixed months ago. Bush noting that fact before the election doesn't suddenly make the election a legitimate expression of anything democratic. I'm perfectly willing to admit that Bush doesn't always exercise good diplomacy. But this is not an example of that fact.

CB: "I wouldn't be so trusting of Iranian voter turnout numbers, Hil."

Was I? Where? I did cite an article that cited them, but the point of the passage I quoted was that Bush's remarks drove down Moin's vote and drove up Ahmadinejad's. That was also the point of the post. It does presuppose that the votes people actually cast can affect the results -- otherwise, they could all have voted for Dumbo the elephant and it wouldn't have mattered. But it does not presuppose any of the following: that the election was fair (plainly, it wasn't); that candidates were not barred (plainly, they were); that votes were not illegitimately added or subtracted (no real knowledge, but I'd guess yes); etc., etc., etc.

Granted that the field of candidates from which the Iranians chose was constrained in ways that I find completely unacceptable; granted that vote totals might have been doctored, and so on, it is still the case that Bush's comments, by all accounts, affected the elections in ways that harmed our interests. That was my point, and, again, I do not see how it involves credulity about Iranian turnout figures. (Actually, I haven't seen any figures on turnout that I trust, so I'm withholding judgment on that one.)

Also, I don't particularly trust Michael Ledeen.

Agreed that their primary task isn't election observation, LJ, but you can also say the same for HRW.

Honestly, Charles, do you think that every NPO is just like a cog that you plug into the same spot? (given your argumentation habits, the answer is clear, unfortunately)

Human Rights Watch arose from the Helsinki Accords, which were focussed on attention to civil rights among those countries signing the Helsinki Accords. On the other hand, AI initially was only concerned with article 18 and 19 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These are focussed on freedom of belief and expression. Obviously, these overlap, and both groups have expanded their ambit but that one group is started out dealing with civic manifestations of human rights and another started out with concerns over beliefs might suggest that they are not interchangeable. Of course, worrying about how a sovereign state conducts its elections should always come before worrying whether individuals are chained to floors overnight and left to urinate and defecate on themselves, I suppose. Next, will we see complaints that AI hasn't condemned elections in the DPRK?

Seb: I didn't see your comment. So, to be clear: when someone adds a bunch of ballots for candidate X to the ballots cast, they fix the election (or at least, help fix it. People have been known to get into trouble by mistaking the needed number of ballots, of course.) But then the votes that are actually cast still figure into the mix, and if they come out in an unexpected way, that can still be reflected in the doctored total. Likewise, when people discard a bunch of ballots: unless they discard them all, the ballots cast will still affect the outcome.

My basic claim was: Bush's comments seem to have skewed the ballots actually cast away from reformers and towards Ahmadinejad. This is counterproductive, since we would have been much better off (a) with almost any runoff that did not include Ahmadinejad, and (b) specifically, with any runoff between a reformer and Rafsanjani. I am saying that I think Bush's comments certainly made these outcomes less likely, and may have been responsible for their not obtaining. I am very emphatically not saying either that I think the elections were fair (they weren't), or that their unfairness can be blamed on Bush (it can't.)

I can't see how the election in Ohio is relevent. I can't see how the fairness of Iran's election is relevant either, and I sure as heck can't see what AI has to do with anything. Hilzoy's point was that, within the context of an unfair "election" that did have one reformist candidate, Bush's remarks have demonstrably helped promote voter turnout to the disadvantage of the reformer. No one has refuted her point. He either screwed up, or deliberately sabotaged the reformer's chances of making a relatively good showing in a low turnout, fradulent election.
My guess is that he screwed up.

Um, since when do the Iranian people dislike us? And since when were statements made by the Interior Ministry and Guardian Council credible?

Robert: what I said was: "Iranians dislike our government intensely." Not us, the American people, but our government. I would have thought the answer was: for quite some time, but more specifically since we invaded Iraq.

On the second point, there's also (cited in the post) the fact that they used Bush's remarks as a campaign tactic, and the quote from the voter; in articles I didn't cite, there are a lot of similar quotes from voters (one example: here: "Ghasim, a 42-year-old Ahmadinejad supporter in south Tehran, said: “I wasn’t thinking of voting until Bush encouraged us not to. It was like an interfering neighbour affecting family decisions. When I heard he wanted a boycott, I went out and voted immediately.”.) There are also quotes from various pro-reform Iranians regretting Bush's comments. All in all, I didn't think I was basing it on the say-so on Iranian government officials.

It seems to me, that Bush's character is weak.

He either lies or is a naïve bureaucrat; either way…the truth is usually absent.

I am surprised people still believe him, when he gives his "Let freedom ring" speeches.

Robert Mayer,

Is the Iraqi invasion more popular in Iran than in the United States?

Actually, NeoDude, t could have been quite popular -- it's not as though there was any love lost between Iraq and Iran. But the Axis of Evil speech for some inexplicable reason gave Iranians the idea that they were next on the list, as did statements like "Wimps go to Baghdad; real men go to Tehran."

Comments I get, outside Los Angeles' Iranian community, seem to view the invasion of Iraq as...well...along this theme.

What follows is an accurate chronology of United States involvement in the arming of Iraq during the Iraq-Iran war 1980-88. It is a powerful indictment of the president Bush administration attempt to sell war as a component of his war on terrorism. It reveals US ambitions in Iraq to be just another chapter in the attempt to regain a foothold in the Mideast following the fall of the Shah of Iran.

From
Arming Iraq: A Chronology of U.S. Involvement


Whatever his complexes, Khomeini had no qualms about sending his followers, including young boys, off to their deaths for his greater glory. This callous disregard for human life was no less characteristic of Saddam Hussein. And, for that matter, it was also no less characteristic of much of the world community, which not only couldn't be bothered by a few hundred thousand Third World corpses, but tried to profit from the conflict.

From:
The United States and Iran-Iraq War 1980-1988

I get a snse from both, Shia Iraqi and Shia Iranians, that the war was not theirs...it was geo-political games, beleivers were caught in the middle...but the anti-Persian rhetoric, coming out of the Ba'athist/Sunni community, made it for real.

More background (including documents) at the National Security Archive.

oh pooooor sh, are we being mean to you?

for god's sake, grow a spine. i thought you went to law school; you should have learned something about argumentation in moot court.

let's try a little multi-step argument and see if we can all follow along:

1. the iranian clerics were (like most ME rulers) going to fix the elections. (at least in part; whether any aspect of the election was to be determined by a vote of the people is beyond by expertise.)

2. if the US had stayed silent before the election, the US could have relied on incredibly brave people to report on empty polling stations, and hold the moral high ground.

3. by speaking up when it did, the US now has no effective response when the iranian govt claims that the president's speech lead to huge turnout.

4. so, not only do the clerics get to fix the election, they get to blame the US for the outcome.

perfect.

other points:

A. the short-term goal of US policy toward iran is nuclear freeze / disarmament (remember the axis of evil speech?). Usually when you're heading into difficult negotiations from a position of weakness, you don't start by insulting your opponent.

B. when the israelis attacked iraq, they didn't have 130,000 troops stationed in jordan under daily attack. we, by contrast, are incredibly exposed. I have no idea what the manpower requirements are to shut effectively the iran/iraq border. does anyone reading this post?

C. SH, you have repeatedly advocated 'preventive' strikes against iran if they fail to come in full compliance with the IAEA. How many additional casualties will the US bear in Iraq if the admin. agrees? Keeping that in mind, how many young conservatives have you convinced to join the military?

For the record, I agree with almost everything in this statement. But I think it was really, really stupid to say it the day before the Iranian election.

So, maybe honesty is bad sometimes? should the next slogan be "Bush told the truth, and screwed up the Iranian elections!"

I don't see how it helps to be triumphalist about our executive branch messing up, although from reading the Iranian blogs, there wasn't too much enthusiasm for the elections anyway, since they are not going to change who is ultimately in power anyway.

Actually, 74% of Iranians feel that the liberation of Iraq will hasten the progress of democracy in their own country.

Remember, you're citing articles written by journalists who have to be accompanied by regime agents, who cannot explore most of the city, and who must rely on announcement by the government itself. The fact is, the vast majority of Iranians didn't vote (some 90%). The ones who did so because of Bush are supporters of the original Islamic revolution. Boo hoo. Of course THOSE people don't like our government. As for everyone else, they love that Bush is speaking out against the government that they hate.

The results were indeed predictable, but the results you cite never actually happened. The government lied about the voter turnout. As for Ahmadinejad, he's a liar as well. He mobilized the Revolutionary Guard to harass as many people as he could into voting. Moin, on the other hand, was never going to win. He was just a pimp for higher turnout numbers. Never a chance in hell would the GC let him win.

And in the end, it really doesn't matter, because the GC controls the country. Rafsanjani, Moin, or Ahmadinejad? Do you believe it actually matters?

oh pooooor sh, are we being mean to you?

for god's sake, grow a spine. i thought you went to law school; you should have learned something about argumentation in moot court.

Congratu-fuxing-lations for chasing Sebastion off this web site. I'm sure the truth will be better served by getting rid of the people who disagree with the majority of commenters!

And no more photos please - I do dialup and they ruin the website.

I am also opposed to those touch-tone phones, by the way.

When

Actually, 74% of Iranians feel that the liberation of Iraq will hasten the progress of democracy in their own country.

is followed by:

Remember, you're citing articles written by journalists who have to be accompanied by regime agents, who cannot explore most of the city, and who must rely on announcement by the government itself

It means your argument is inconsistent.

The government lied about the voter turnout

Again, simply inconsistent. You are giving credence to facts that you think support your argument even when they come from the same sources as the facts which you dismiss as unreliable. You might want to rethink that policy if you want your arguments to be taken seriously.

You are giving credence to facts that you think support your argument even when they come from the same sources as the facts which you dismiss as unreliable. You might want to rethink that policy if you want your arguments to be taken seriously.

Read an Iranian blog or two. if you want to be taken seriously.

"for god's sake, grow a spine. i thought you went to law school; you should have learned something about argumentation in moot court."

I do know something about argumentation. That is how I am able to recognize that you rarely engage in it.

"SH, you have repeatedly advocated 'preventive' strikes against iran if they fail to come in full compliance with the IAEA. How many additional casualties will the US bear in Iraq if the admin. agrees? Keeping that in mind, how many young conservatives have you convinced to join the military?"

I don't know how many I have 'convinced', but participated in the decision-making process? Four. And one I know but did not participate in his decision-making process is now dead not that you would think of that little follow-up question on your own. You can feel free to believe that I don't count the cost of my advocacy if you want. But I hope you will forgive me for deciding that I am not going to engage you when you try to turn that belief into an accusation. I suspect I can't say anything else without seriously blowing it as someone who is supposed to uphold the posting rules, so good night.

Read an Iranian blog or two. if you want to be taken seriously.

Oh, Iranian blogs are conducting scientific opinion polls in Iran? No? Make an argument that addresses the point at hand if you want to be taken seriously.

Me: It's really, really hard to believe that a whole bunch of people could be this dunderheaded.
Slarti: No, it's not.
Me: *sporfle* *wipes coffee off keyboard*

Thank you. That was just what I needed.

DaveC, when a host whines about his inability to post here due to hyperbole which has traditionally been entirely within (a) the posting rules and (b) the scope of accepted debate here, i see nothing wrong with challenging him on it.

moreover, precisely none of us are writing posts which conform to the California Rules of Court for appellate briefs. Both SH and I (and others) are frequently guilty of seizing on points with which we disagree, while ignoring larger issues. I'll leave it to others (including Katherine if she still lurks here) to debate who is more guilty of unfair argumentation.

finally, SH helped talk a young man (most likely) who's now dead into joining the armed forces. apparently he bears some guilt for that decision, as shown by the testiness in the last post. I think he should bear that guilt; a young american died in another pointless war far from home after listening to SH.

of course, whether or not he feels guilty has nothing to do with the merits of hilzoy's original post -- that the Bush admin handed an easy diplomatic win to an enemy state, or my original comment -- that chastizing an enemy with whom you are negotiating nuclear weapon issues is a dumb idea.

after putting NKorea and Iran in the axis of evil, what successes has the admin had in getting either of them to forego weapons development? none? maybe an alternative approach would do no better, but it certainly couldn't be any worse.

This one is nearly as good. If I were to pick corporate sponsors, these guys would be it.

Francis, SH hasn't 'left the building'; he went next door, to put up a new post blaming the UN for inaction on the Dafur genocide. Conspicuously missing from that post is the country which accounts for 50% of the military spending in the world. I'm good at missing the obvious, and I'd still have a hard time missing that.

"oh pooooor sh, are we being mean to you?"

Francis: do not, and I repeat, DO NOT, go there.

"SH helped talk a young man..."

I know nothing about this episode, but: REALLY don't go there.

This constitutes your warning. The only one. Stop it now.

The only sensible reason I can think of for Bush's statement was that he really believed that the Iranian people were with him, and that his statement would help. The theory that this was done for domestic consumption is a little strained, in my opinion.

The issue, as I see it, is that even if CB and SH and RM are right, and the turnout numbers are lies, and the whole election was a sham, and the whole country of Iran is in fact a seething cauldron of pro-american oppressed barely kept in line by authoritarian fossils who control the army and the cops, even if all this is true, Bush needlessly handed those authoritarian fossils a useful and unlooked-for tool to consolidate their control, convince Iranian fence-sitters, shift the narrative from "fixed election" to "plucky Iranians standing up to the big bad US", and thus screw down the lid a little tighter. So, a pretty stupid and unnecessary move, even granting the likelihood that the election was a joke. I bet Bush felt good saying it, though.

As an aside, just for the hell of it, what is the f**king point of chiming in with these snarky comparisons with Ohio? Do you really think they convince anybody of anything, or do they just serve to make you feel righteous?

CB probably should have pointed out that the Globe and Mail link is to an op-ed piece.

The editors titled the piece, Francis. Anyone can see for themselves the contents by clicking.

Christ almighty, CB, have you EVER been in a negotiation? has anyone ever told you that sometimes you have to give something up, even something you believe is very valuable, in order to get something that you value more highly in return?

What negotiations, Francis? Implicit in your argument is that you believe the words of the interior minister and top spy that Bush's words sparked voter turnout. I don't accept that. I also don't accept giving them a theocratic dictators a pass. F*ck that. Kifaya. I also don't accept that this election is not rigged, not when international election monitors are refused access or when "security officials" confiscate campaign materials because they contain inflammatory words such as repression, terrorizing, freedom and democracy. The fact is that Iran is one of the least free on the planet, and putting the words democracy and Iran in the same sentence is an insult to the word democracy. When 99.2% of the candidates are arbitrarily stricken from the ballot by the mullahocracy, you know this whole exercise is a pathetic joke.

Was I? Where? I did cite an article that cited them, but the point of the passage I quoted was that Bush's remarks drove down Moin's vote and drove up Ahmadinejad's.

And how do you know that, Hil? Implicit in your whole post is your unchallenged acceptance that Bush's words sparked voter turnout. You are asserting as fact that allegedly intemperate words by the president resulted in the victory of Ahmadinejad. Why would you so uncritically believe that? Because an interior minister and top spy told you so? Never mind that you would be unable confirm their statements since international elections observers were refused entry to the country.

CB - if Bush had ended his speech by saying "Kifaya," do you think it would help or hurt?

Charles: see my comment, 12:45am. Reasons to believe it other that are not based on government officials can be found throughout the coverage of the elections.

Again, simply inconsistent.

Not when the legitimacy of the Iranian government rides on voter turnout, felix. Participating in this sham election has nothing to do with liberation, and I'm sure the Iranian people know that.

I am sure Bush hasn’t forgotten the stories, many Eastern European activist tell….you know…”When Reagan called the Soviet Union out, it made us braver and hopeful.”…those kinds of testimonials go over good, with the hoi-polloi….and when attempting to leave a legacy.

All Bush really, has to do is keep this up…just keep talkin’ platitudes and bumper sticker philosophy, which is the Real cause of freedom….so when the “tsunami” that is freedom washes over the Middle East…it will be the words of George W. Bush that is written in the hearts of democrats in the Middle East.

Bush could care less about Iranians...he doesn't want to be remembered as the President that was bitch-slapped by Osama Bin Laden.

st: if Bush had ended his speech by saying "Kifaya," do you think it would help or hurt?

Hurt, because 'kifaya' is Arabic. Iranians aren't Arabs, and speak Farsi. But, assuming you meant the Farsi equivalent of 'kifaya', I'm interested to hear the answer to the question.

Nell - wow, er, yeah. That's an excellent point. I don't know to what degree "Kifaya" has become identified as a slogan extrapolated from its meaning in Arabic, or if the Farsi equivalent has gained any ground in Iran as symbolic of the same thing.

Charles: see my comment, 12:45am. Reasons to believe it other that are not based on government officials can be found throughout the coverage of the elections.

Not buying it, Hil. First, there is only one "man on the street" quote, but the larger issue is that reporters in Iran are followed around by "minders", shown only what the regime wants them to see. Since reporters have no freedom of movement, it is not reasonable to accept their accounts at face value. Read the Reporters Sans Frontieres reports on journalistic freedom in Iran.

CB - if Bush had ended his speech by saying "Kifaya," do you think it would help or hurt?

My rule is to avoid hypotheticals as much as possible, st.

Not when the legitimacy of the Iranian government rides on voter turnout, felix. Participating in this sham election has nothing to do with liberation, and I'm sure the Iranian people know that.

The inconsistency is that he is putting forth facts from the same sources as the facts he derides as untrustworthy. He cites an opinion poll of Iranian public opinion while simultaneously arguing that news reports from Iran should be given no creedence. If they shouldn't, neither should his opinion poll, for the same reasons he cites.

My rule is to avoid hypotheticals as much as possible, st.

Unsupported declarations of what you'd like to consider fact aren't exactly an improvement, Charles.

Translation:

"If a President of the United States criticizes another nation for a visibly corrupt electoral process, it becomes his fault when that nation cooks the numbers to make it look like the turnout was higher than normal and the opposition did poorly."

Somehow, this reminds me of the moonbats who were saying during the invasion of Iraq: "At least Saddam was legally elected to office--unlike Chimpy McHallihitbush."

the moonbats who were saying during the invasion of Iraq: "At least Saddam was legally elected to office--unlike Chimpy McHallihitbush."

Cite?

Actually M. Scott, the problem is PR culpability, rather than factual culpability. I think we can pretty safely assume that the elections were rigged, and rigged well enough to outweigh anything US politicians might or might not say.

The problem is that the Bush administration is so consistently hated by the rest of the world, and so consistently lacking in credibility. Yunesi isn't thanking Bush for increasing conservative turnout -- any difference he made wouldn't have been decisive anyway. He's thanking Bush for acting as a convenient scapegoat to explain odd numbers. The hardliners would have won anyway; the numbers would have been embarassing anyway; but the hardliners have legitimate reason to be grateful and amused at the PR opportunity.

Chew on that wouldya?

Bush strengthened the hardliners' position in a way which is independent of any effect he might have had on turnout or voting patterns. His words may have been prefectly reasonable on merits, but they can be cast as lies because they were spoken by a pathological liar.

His words may have been prefectly reasonable on merits, but they can be cast as lies because they were spoken by a pathological liar.

*snicker*

"The witness may step down. The prosecution rests."

"And how do you know that, Charles? Implicit in your whole post is your unchallenged acceptance that Bush's words sparked no voter turnout. You are asserting as fact that allegedly intemperate words by the president had no effect in the victory of Ahmadinejad. Why would you so uncritically believe that? Because Michael Ledeen told you so? Never mind that you would be unable confirm his or other statements since international elections observers were refused entry to the country."

"Since Michael Ledeen has no freedom of movement, it is not reasonable to accept his accounts at face value."

These are the words of Charles Bird, slightly changed to substitute "Michael Ledeen" for some words, and to substitute a few negatives for a few positives. I assume Charles can explain why his own words don't apply to his own words, given the vast distinctions involved.

Perhaps Ledeen's account is 100%. Perhaps it's only 90% accurate. Perhaps, whatever its accuracy, it's far more accurate than not. Whatever. How does one establish this in the context of Charles' own objections? Charles?

"Somehow, this reminds me of the moonbats who were saying during the invasion of Iraq: "At least Saddam was legally elected to office--unlike Chimpy McHallihitbush."

Hey, don't bogart that joint, my friend. Pass it over here.

How does one establish this in the context of Charles' own objections? Charles?

I take it then, Gary, that you agree with me and do not accept Hilzoy's acceptance of voter turnout numbers, no?

*snicker*

Ah, I see. So chewing on it isn't part of the agenda, and the question of whether this administration's actions might be damaging the interests of this nation isn't even worthy of consideration.

Duly noted...

hilzoy: I did cite an article that cited [voter turnout numbers], but the point of the passage I quoted was that Bush's remarks drove down Moin's vote and drove up Ahmadinejad's. That was also the point of the post. It does presuppose that the votes people actually cast can affect the results . . . That was my point, and, again, I do not see how it involves credulity about Iranian turnout figures. (Actually, I haven't seen any figures on turnout that I trust, so I'm withholding judgment on that one.)

Charles: I take it then, Gary, that you agree with me and do not accept Hilzoy's acceptance of voter turnout numbers, no?

Just for the record, when people do that to you, you scream like a baby. Deliberately attributing to hilzoy a position that she explicitly does not hold is, charitably speaking, a lie, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, suppose you didn't see it, and give you an opportunity to go back and read it.

Ah, I see. So chewing on it isn't part of the agenda, and the question of whether this administration's actions might be damaging the interests of this nation isn't even worthy of consideration.

No, I'm snickering at yet another manifestation of Bush Derangement Syndrome, and how you think we ought to run our foreign policy around it. Clinton was loathed by many--including myself--during his time in office, but if someone had suggested to me that he refrain from criticizing Iran or any similar state for holding a crooked election because he was a pathological liar, I would have laughed in their face. The left has been reduced to arguing, "Well, I might support this if it wasn't GWB doing it. . ." before, and it's always been just as pathetic as this manifestation of it is.

ST: I actually have a non-standard reason for referring to Ohio. I don't here assert that the election was stolen. What I want to point out is that we don't have a system that makes it possible to reliably show, consistently on every level, that the elections weren't. The welter of electronic voting systems without good trails, weird handling of paper ballots, and the like creates a situation in which skepticism about outcomes cannot easily become confidence simply by providing the relevant records. Nor do we apply the standards for investigation of possible fraud that are used elsewhere, like significant discrepancies between exit polling and final tallies. The administration sometimes acts like it has something to hide, but more often like it simply doesn't care whether the elections are honest and known to be honest or not.

Open, simple, reliable voting is apparently not a priority in US elections. And since it isn't here, I seriously think that we lack standing to criticize the honesty of most elections elsewhere.

Open, simple, reliable voting is apparently not a priority in US elections. And since it isn't here, I seriously think that we lack standing to criticize the honesty of most elections elsewhere.

Where do we gain standing? 0.00001% error? Or do we have to go all the way down to zero?

See, I think there's rather a huge difference between the (small) margin of error being relevant in a close race, and intimidation, ballot-box stuffing, and large-scale fraud. YMMV, though.

Slart, what I want is a system that produces uncontroversial outcomes in elections like those of 2000, 2002, and 2004. Not that they'll satisfy everyone - cranks and the determined exist - but that they leave no room for people of honest good will to say "that sucks". As with torture, I think the policy should a positive one: we're shooting for a clear record with a safety margin, as opposed to figuring out what we can skate by with and maybe be okay. I think this would help our moral standing a lot.

Now I'm not even convinced that you actually read what I wrote.

radish: "The problem is that the Bush administration is so consistently hated by the rest of the world..."

M.Scott: "Clinton was loathed by many--including myself--during his time in office..."

M.Scott: "...if someone had suggested to me that he refrain from criticizing Iran or any similar state for holding a crooked election because he was a pathological liar, I would have laughed in their face."

One of these things is not like the others. You may have hated Bill Clinton; you may have thought of him as a pathological liar; you may have been driven up the wall by his irresponsible obsession with his own virility. But your view is not at issue, nor is it shared by the rest of the world, and whether or not you laughed in anybody's face wouldn't matter outside your own little social circle.

Clinton was (and still is) enormously (and largely undeservedly IMHO) popular and trusted outside the US. Bush is enormously -- unprecedentedly in fact -- unpopular and mistrusted. Astonishingly so. Then there's the sheer self-parody of bringing up Clinton in the context of accusing someone of irrational hatred of a political figure. You may not remember the Clinton years, but I do. And I'm no great fan of the Big Dog.

As for how to run foreign policy, I'm also not the one defending the administration that brought state-sanctioned torture to the United States...

"I take it then, Gary, that you agree with me and do not accept Hilzoy's acceptance of voter turnout numbers, no?"

See Phil's response (thank you, Phil). Beyond that, I have no idea at this time what the voter turnout in Iran was.

M. Scott Eiland: "The left has been reduced to arguing, 'Well, I might support this if it wasn't GWB doing it. . ." before, and it's always been just as pathetic as this manifestation of it is."'

I gave tentative, luke-warm, completely uneasy, assent to the war in Iraq precisely because I believed that the fact that George W. Bush was President wouldn't be the determinative factor in how it would go. I believed that I could rely on the professionals in the Defense Department, State Department, and elsewhere in the government to handle it competently, and that the political masters at the top wouldn't screw it up, due to lack of sufficient motivation or benefit.

It was only quite a long while later (far too much later, some say, and perhaps rightly so) that I concluded that I had been completely wrong about that, and greviously so. It took a great deal of evidence indeed for me to so be persuaded.

What lesson would you suggest I best draw from this, assuming you can answer without resort to ad hominem?

but that they leave no room for people of honest good will to say "that sucks"

I believe what you're describing is called "time travel". How it works is, after an election has failed to grant us standing, go back in time and change the rules so that wholly unambiguous outcome results.

Seriously, controversial and corrupt don't have anywhere near the same meaning. Plus, even given ostensibly idiot-proof election laws and procedures, people will still be idiot enough to screw things up, from time to time.

"Then there's the sheer self-parody of bringing up Clinton in the context of accusing someone of irrational hatred of a political figure. You may not remember the Clinton years, but I do. And I'm no great fan of the Big Dog. "

Posted by: radish

Radish, 'Bush Derangement Syndrome' is a classical example of combined right-wing freudian projection and CYA through pre-emptive accusation. There are a number of people who can't understand that there are a load of good reasons to dislike, loathe and hate GW Bush. After all, he's a 'good man', a 'man of faith', yadda yadda yadda. These people then think back to the 1990's, and how they really, really hated Clinton. They figure that is an explanation.

It's also a sweet piece of CYA by pre-emptive accusation: attack somebody's motives, to put them on the defensive.

Of course, it's also an example of the Iron Law of Right-wing Freudian Projection.

"Seriously, controversial and corrupt don't have anywhere near the same meaning. Plus, even given ostensibly idiot-proof election laws and procedures, people will still be idiot enough to screw things up, from time to time."

Posted by: Slartibartfast

We're not talking about idiot-proofing; I can't imagine why you'd say that.

When certain people have worked very hard to make it impossible (not difficult, impossible) to audit election results, 'controversial' is a pretty soft word. And when people work to do this in matters about which they care heavily, 'corrupt' is actually a pretty good assumption.

Slarti, what Barry said: I'm talking about a system that works more or less honesty and is designed to make review of results as easy and straightforward as possible. this is partly "do no evil" and partly "don't give the appearance of evil". The latter is reputation capital: we need to act like people who are serious about honesty and fair play. Right now, our institutions really often don't, and the trend with regard to voting is bad.

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