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What You See…

Posted by Rick · May 12th, 2004 · 43 Comments

I had decided tonight that I wasn’t going to write; instead, I was going to read. So I took a (virtual) stroll over to Lex Communis, where I’m often entertained (and sometimes learn something) by Peter Sean Bradley, Esquire. Mr. Bradley is (normally) a pretty smart man. He and I don’t always agree on things (maybe I should say we don’t often agree on things), but I usually like his writing and I like hearing another point of view.

Tonight, though, I’m puzzled.

Mr. Bradley has several short posts up opining — I like to use that word whenever I see Bill O’Reilly-type reasoning — on the circumstances surrounding the Abu Graib abuses, as well as the apparent response from al Qaeda, the brutal beheading of an American citizen. Yet after reading the posts, I’m not exactly sure of his point. I thought for a minute he was blaming Abu Ghraib on the fact that the United States has, sadly, integrated its military; we’ve committed the mortal sin of thinking of women as equals with men. Just as when the Israeli military was embarrassed by the photos o— oh, wait… They’re integrated, but no pictures of them sexually humiliating their prisoners have leaked out. Maybe they’re just better at hiding them?

Well, nevermind. I think he changed his mind anyway. He notes that another blogger,

Mark Shea[,] has two very interesting pictures. One featuring a sweet young female soldier making friends with an Iraqi child; the second featuring the same sweet young thing wearing the same grin while standing over a pile of naked Iraqi men.

And he goes on to say,

As the rest of us ponder the question “what the hell were they thinking,” Shea’s explanation that we shouldn’t discount the power of sin may be the best.

In short, it’s the Flip Wilson Defense; “da Debil mayd me du it!”

Of course, in the long run, whatever was the cause isn’t really important. It’s really on a par with a fraternity initiation.

In a post about the horrific and inexcusable murder of Nick Berg — whose family is claiming that the United States is partly to blame [U.S. officials say the family is lying] — he notes,

The leader of Al Quaeda? In Iraq? Jeepers, why do I keep hearing the conventional wisdom that there was no link between Iraq and Al Quaeda?

Obviously, because there is such a link.

Well, duuuuh! And if they decide it’s important to finally locate the WMD (perhaps, if at all, sometime near the election?) they can plant them and say, “See? We told you so!”

Information available before the undeclared war in Iraq indicated that al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein were not the best of friends. The Cato Institute’s Gene Healy pointed out, in March 2003, that

Bin Laden, who views the rigid Saudi theocracy as insufficiently Islamic, has long considered Saddam Hussein an infidel enemy. Before Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, Bin Laden warned publicly that the Iraqi dictator had designs on conquering Saudi Arabia. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, Bin Laden offered to assemble his mujahedeen to battle Hussein and protect the Arabian peninsula.

Last summer, when CNN acquired a cache of internal Al Qaeda training videotapes, they discovered a Qaeda documentary that was highly critical of Hussein. Peter Bergen, the CNN terrorism expert who interviewed Bin Laden in 1998, noted that Bin Laden indicted Hussein, as “a bad Muslim.”

That theme continues in the latest “Bin Laden” audiotape, released to Al Jazeera. In it, Bin Laden (or someone claiming to be him) urges Muslims to fight the American “crusaders” bent on invading Iraq. But even while urging assistance to Hussein’s “socialist” regime, “Bin Laden” can’t resist condemning that regime: “The jurisdiction of the socialists and those rulers has fallen a long time ago …. Socialists are infidels wherever they are, whether they are in Baghdad or Aden.”

And lest someone jump up to shout that this is just another leftist site (it’s not a Democratic site; it’s Libertarian — but “Liberal” and “Libertarian” do share the first five letters!) let’s observe that this opinion was shared by none other than…

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell [who] conceded Thursday that despite his assertions to the United Nations last year, he had no “smoking gun” proof of a link between the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and terrorists of Al Qaeda.

“I have not seen smoking-gun, concrete evidence about the connection,” Mr. Powell said, in response to a question at a news conference. “But I think the possibility of such connections did exist, and it was prudent to consider them at the time that we did.

Yes. There is a possibility of UFOs, too. There is a possibility that someone built a monument to hominids on Mars. There is a possibility that some day my friend Nat is going to respond to one of my posts with a full and complete argument.

But you’ll forgive me if I don’t hang my hat — let alone a decision about whether or not to trick the citizens of my country into going to war with a sovereign nation not already owned by me — on those possibilities.

The reason al Qaeda is in Iraq is because we put them there. More accurately, we enticed them there. Nat thinks this is part of President Bush’s masterful genius — and I accidentally stumbled onto it while thinking I was poking some fun in a response to him earlier today. In Nat’s words, which you can find in one of the innumerable (well, actually, at last count, 33) comments to this post,

Regarding your speculation as to President Bush?s motives for the Iraq invastion you may have, unknowingly, stumbled into the truth. You see, I think that all the noise and the blather is obscuring what is actually intended here.

If you take the global view from 60,000ft, you would have to ask yourself the question why is the Middle East in turmoil and what can we do about it? We could easily have gone into Iraq, deposed Hussein, installed a dictator of our choice and on our payroll and left town. That?s been our MO in the past.

But that doesn?t solve the long term problem. The long term problem is that you have a bunch of autocracies in the Middle East who exist by virtue of the fact that they can use Israel as a convenient whipping boy. As each generation grows up give them somebody, other than yourself, to hate and this distracts their attention from your own hegemonic control and the lack of democratic freedoms in your own little sandpile.

Until we face that problem, Arab terrorism is never going to be solved. But what if an actual working democracy was installed in an Middle East country? What then? What if it worked and the people of surrounding countries saw that? And began to demand the same rights, freedoms and prosperity for themselves? It?s really a breathtaking idea.

If it works there, Nat and I are going to lobby the President to try it in a couple other places — if I recall correctly (yep, just looked it up!) there are approximately 192 independent states, e.g., not (yet) conquered by the United States. We’re calling our plan the Halliburton Full Employment Act of 20__. We can’t fill in the date yet, because we aren’t sure when we’ll have a working model ready in Iraq and, unfortunately, we’ve already partially dismantled the one we had going in North America.

It’s high time we consider what some folk like Nat,

Your ?concern? for these murdering swine is beyond ridiculous. They are very BAD people. They want to kill you. They want to dismember you, bomb you and eviscerate you. They HATE you. And yes, they wouldn?t hesitate, for a second, to torture you.

and Mr. Bradley are saying,

It’s a good thing that we’re holding Congressional inquiries into Abu Ghraib, but we shouldn’t forget that there is a war on and who it is that we are fighting.

I think their point is supposed to be either that the gruesomeness and wrongness of the acts (or, in Nat’s scenario, potential acts) of the terrorists, who are not American citizens, is such that we should all shut our traps. I mean — to use Mr. Bradley’s phrase — what the hell were we thinking? Here we sit, willing to hold congressional hearings into the behavior of our very own armed forces personnel for egregious behavior clearly in violation of the Convention between the United States of America and other powers, relating to prisoners of war, commonly known as the Geneva Convention, and what are we doing, anyway! Shouldn’t we be holding congressional hearings into the inhuman and inexcusable beheading of Nick Berg?! [Incidentally, I think Mr. Bradley means it when he says “it’s a good thing we’re holding Congressional inquiries into Abu Ghraib”; Nat — and folk like Republican Senator Inhofeseem to think it’s an overreaction.]

The last time I checked, none of those terrorists were American citizens. None of them were acting under orders of any officers of the United States of America. Although I suppose it’s possible da Debil mayd ’em du it.

I, for one, like to think of myself as the loyal opposition under the circumstances facing our country today. I am not unmoved by the animalistic behavior of al Qaeda with respect to Nick Berg. My disgust with my fellow citizens over the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and with the government that may have turned a blind eye to it until someone with a conscience blew the lid off it by giving the photos to the press does not constitute condoning the hideous murder of other fellow citizens of mine. Neither does my agreeing that congressional investigations should determine the scope of the problem.

I confess that I don’t read the same Bible as my two compatriots, but I don’t think I’m incorrect to believe that they would agree with me that two wrongs do not make a right. (Heh…although — forgive me, I can’t help it — it just occurred to me that the two wrong-minded people to whom I’ve been referring in this post do make up a part of the right.)

In the end, I am appalled that American citizens would conduct themselves as these soldiers did — and that Mr. Bradley and Nat would excuse them, or suggest that people like me are over-reacting because al Qaeda is doing worse things. (To put a variation on an old aphorism my mother used to use: al Qaeda is also flying airplanes into commercial buildings, killing thousands of innocent people. Does that mean we should do it, too?) It doesn’t matter to me if da Debil mayd ’em du it or if it was because we started treating women like co-citizens with duties equal to men or if it was a fraternity prank or what the reason was. It was wrong.

And, to use another Wilsonism, sometimes what you see is what you get.

Categories: The War President


43 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Rick // May 13, 2004 at 7:35 am

    Note of Clarification

    Lest the nature of my post be misunderstood — and I’m growing, perhaps too slowly, somewhat sensitive to that these days — no one should take my comments as personally impugning Mr. Bradley or Nat.

    I’ve nearly always enjoyed reading Lex Communis, although because it’s pervasively (and rightfully unabashedly) Catholic in perspective, I don’t often agree with what’s said there. At least I think that’s the reason it doesn’t often resonate with me. But it is also written from a highly moral perspective — all the more reason I felt the posts about Abu Ghraib were worth commenting upon; waving off the horrification over prisoners forced to engage in simulated sex acts does not appear to me to be consonant with the spirit of Catholicism, or Christianity in general. But I think this is a mistake, not an indication of some deep personal deficiency in Mr. Bradley.

    Nat, on the other hand…. No, I’m kidding. I don’t know Nat, outside of what I’ve seen on my blog. I can say that when he has stated a view — as opposed to merely verbally assaulting — I almost always disagree with him. However, it’s noteworthy (well, to me, anyway) that I only almost always disagree. Peruse the record of our jousts and you will see that however energetic they get, there have been times when I agree with him, and I say so. I find somewhat more problematic the methodology, although I think I understand it. After all, I have trouble avoiding that route sometimes myself.

    Yet, although he adheres to a different set of moral standards than I do, I don’t doubt from what I’ve seen that he is driven by a deep-seated set of moral convictions.

    So it should be understood that although I may sometimes have more than a little fun with their ideas, I am not attacking them, but the ideas I think are mistakenly held.

  • 2 Nat // May 13, 2004 at 10:10 am


    Feel free to impugn me. I’m not a “sensitive Liberal” and therefore it’s not going to hurt my feelings.

    There’s a clear correlation between that and the idiocy in the media regarding Al Ghraib. This is a war even if the Liberals at the NYT, LAT,WP, USAT, The New Yorker and your pals Mark, Bob and abi et al refuse to recognize it as such. The Islamo-facists have declared a war on us. We either fight back, or, as the Liberals want us to do, surrender. Fortunately, a majority of the citizenry wish for America to continue as a free nation. Therefore we are going to fight the war with a view to ultimate victory.

    In war the object is to either kill or capture the enemy. If we capture an enemy soldier, then our sole obligation is to treat that person in accordance with the Geneva Convention. In the course of taking prisoners, we may find one or more who have committed egregious acts of horror against us. IF our people decide to squeeze that perpetrator for some intelligence and that process involves some non-lethal discomfort to the terrorist, then what’s the big deal? A little humiliation by ignoring their cultural sensitivities? Puhleaaaze. THIS IS WAR!

    Let me ask you this. If we captured bin Laden, would you not want to be left alone in a room with him so that you could administer some immediate justice of your own devising? Or would you, like the traitorous Liberal elite, want to accord this demon-monster his “Miranda” rights and all the niceties?

    These prisoners in Abu Ghraib are BAD, EVIL, INHUMAN MONSTERS. A little shame and humiliation accorded to them is NOTHING compared with what these vermin have done to Americans. If our guys need to rough them up a little bit then I have NO PROBLEM with that. We owe these terrorists NOTHING. They asked for this. Let’s let them have it with both barrels. The whining Euros and the Liberal intelligentsia can go to you know where.

    It’s us or them. There’s no middle ground. It’s time for everyone to stand up and make their declaration. Support our Armed Forces, without reservation, or STFU.

  • 3 Kent // May 13, 2004 at 10:25 am

    Last night while watching NBC News I saw a very good interview about the situation at Abu Ghraib. The Interviewee stated that “You treat others like you would want to be treated”. I suppose in light of Nat’s comments of the last few days this must be some liberal who has no clue as to what these people where up to. However, the person being interviewed was none other than PFC Cock of the 1st Cavalry Division in Baghdad. He made these comments during a patrol of a Market area of Baghdad with his Interceptor Body Armor and Kevlar helmet on, an M-16 at the ready and eyes peeled for anything suspect in the area.

    “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”, is supposed to be a basic tenant of Christian principles. Just to be sure I went to look for the origin of that small phrase, what context? My search landed me right at Matthew, chapter 7 verse 12 in the Bible. In light of this I find it very hard to understand how professed Christians like Nat, Mr. Bradley, Sen. Inhofe subscribe to the mentality that there should be no concern for the treatment of prisoner held at any prison within Iraq.

    I find it no surprise that a PFC “in the trenches” understands you treat a prisoner just as you would want to be treated if the roles were reversed, even if that person may have been shooting at you, trying to kill you.

  • 4 Mark // May 13, 2004 at 11:10 am


    I don’t want bin Laden captured. I want him killed. Our last President tried to do just that. What has Shrub done along these lines?

    I don’t know the backgrounds of the prisoners in Iraq. Is it possible that some of these individuals were defending their country against an invading army? Does that make them evil?

    Take a deep breath, Nat. Calm down. Listen to that wild-eyed liberal John McCain when he talks about what’s happening in the prisons we run. Unlike your idol Shrub, McCain has been in combat. Unfortunately, he’s been a P-O-W. He knows what he’s talking about. Which is a statement few, if any, educated, informed people would make about your holy Shrub.

    I suppose Jesus taught about torturing those who defended their homes against invading armies. He HAD to have, right?

  • 5 Rick // May 13, 2004 at 11:21 am

    Note that Mr. Bradley did not say that there should be no concern. He stated (and I quoted him as stating) that it was a good thing that we were holding congressional hearings on this. His concern is with people who are outraged over the behavior of Americans at Abu Ghraib, but don’t seem to be as outraged over what was done to Nick Berg.

    I agree with him and share that concern.

    I quoted his posts for other reasons: To note that some of the apparent lack of expressed outrage over Nick Berg was based on the idea that holding congressional hearings over the particular acts of terrorists who believe themselves to be at war with us doesn’t seem appropriate or productive. They are not U.S. citizens; the soldiers at Abu Ghraib were (are).

    And to Nick: I do not feel free to impugn you, or anyone else who I do not think deserves it. I disagree with your politics; I do not think you are an immoral or bad person. There’s a distinction. A common thread I’ve tried to weave through some of my posts of late is that unless and until we recognize this of one another, we cannot actually live as citizens of the United States.

    I think we should be fair, honest and straightforward in our discussions toward that end, even if we occasionally poke fun at one another. (Married couples — at least the non-dysfunctional ones — recognize that there’s a “right” way to fight and a “wrong” way; the wrong way leads to destroyed relationships and accomplishes nothing else. I’m trying to point out that this applies to discussions in free and open societies as well.) I believe wholeheartedly that the ideas you put forward would ultimately be harmful to us. That doesn’t require vilification of you personally.

    Think of it as a “hate the sin, not the sinner” mentality. 😉

    You are wrong about what I would do if I were allowed to be alone with bin Laden for awhile. My feeling is that he should be punished according to our laws, not my emotions. You should read the Geneva Convention with regard to prisoners, since you agree it should be honored (to quote you, “it is our sole obligation”). What happened at Abu Ghraib contravened that.

    You might also consider reading the Constitution of the United States. (It’s available online.) You said “this is a war even if [a whole bunch of people, including some who are intelligent] refuse to recognize it as such.” But if one looks at the Constitution, this is “a war” in that it resembles one, but if it is a war, it is an illegal war. (Again, read the Constitution to see why.)

    Regardless of whether it is or isn’t a war, war-like things are happening there. It clearly resembles a war in every respect except one: it’s legality. (Even arguing that the Geneva Convention applies seems to me an admission that it’s a war.) And, consequently, we do owe “these terrorists” something. We owe them the protections of the Geneva Convention. More appropriately — and more to the point — we owe ourselves something. We owe it to ourselves to endorse ideas about the behavior of civilized nations and people. Even if we are unconcerned about setting examples for other nations and people, we should be concerned about setting examples for our own fellow citizens. We should be concerned about our own integrity.

    And we should be concerned about our soldiers. One reason the Geneva Convention was implemented was to encourage the idea that, even in war, there are some things that are “off limits”; some things are too gruesome, even in a war; some things are not “just” inhumane, they are not human. Throwing out that precept, again, says that it’s okay for terrorists to behead our citizens, whether civilian or military. After all, “THIS IS WAR!” And might makes right.

    I reject that.

    And the world isn’t restricted to “us or them” situations, not even with respect to the Middle East. Mediation does have a place. If we’d practiced it better and sooner we might not even have a war. Because whereas the terrorists might be a sub-group of the Middle Eastern (or Muslim, since some non-Middle Eastern countries now share in this) countries, they have achieved some broad support — even if it’s sometimes grudging — in the Muslim world at large, because they are seen as resisting imperialists intent on crushing Islam.

    There always have been and always will be the functional equivalents of terrorists running amok in our societies. A less “us versus them” confrontational style with respect to other countries would marginalize those groups and make the world a better place for all people.

    I do support our Armed Forces without reservation. I support the individual men and women of our Armed Forces as human beings and fellow citizens. I value the work they do for us as a defensive force.

    I do not support the policies or the Administration which has put them in Iraq. I believe it was wrong to put them there.

    However much it benefits your arguments to conflate these two ideas, they are distinct. I reserve my right to be loyal to the United States while still opposing what I see as bad, wrong, or immoral policies. In fact, I believe that is my duty as a loyal citizen.

    And, by the way, I’m still waiting for clarification on my question (I explained why in the comment immediately after yours yesterday). It sounds like, though, that I’ve properly characterized your point of view regarding dissent. I’m just asking, again, if this correctly characterizes your view on that:

    You would like the opposition to shut up. [In your most recent post, you indicate this more strongly by saying they should “STFU.”] It?s imperative, after all, to present a united front against the enemy. Are you saying that we should be endeavouring today to restore and fashion a single outlook? A single will in the nation? Perhaps the press (and blog writers) should pursue no other end than this: our reporting, our information, our counsels, and our conscious influence ? all of these are of real service only if they cooperate in the effort to attain to the goal set before us. After all, never must criticism be an end in itself. We who free criticism from the moral duty of placing it in the service of a general, recognized and pursued life task are treading the path which leads to Nihilism and Anarchy. Is that what you?re saying? I mean, it?s completely out of the question that under the cover of criticism support should be given to activities which one can only characterize as treason to the interests of a people?s own life.

    As I noted before, you confused me by throwing in the “closet anarchist” comment (and by the fact that apparently you only read the first paragraph, if that, of each of my posts.)

    I’m just trying to understand you, Nat…. So if you could just say something like, “Regarding your characterization of my view on dissent, that would be a ‘yes.'” (Or explain where I’m going wrong if it’s a “no,” so I can adjust my view.)


  • 6 abi // May 13, 2004 at 11:49 am

    Quoth Nat:

    These prisoners in Abu Ghraib are BAD, EVIL, INHUMAN MONSTERS.

    And how do we know that? Because the thing they’re accused of is particularly bad? Does that mean we don’t need to hold a trial, or test the accusation against them in any way?

    This is a classic error, perpetrated by people of all political stripes. You see it, for instance, in crimes against children. The accused is vilified before the trial, because “there’s no smoke without fire” or “the police must have some reason to suspect them.”

    Unfortunately, sometimes the police (or the security forces, or the US Army, or its civillian contractors) get the wrong person. The entire point of “innocent until proven guilty” is that we need a trial to test the evidence.

    There’s often the argument, of course, that our standards of proof should be less stringent in times of “war” (rhetorical or legal). Usually someone talks omlette recipes at this point in the conversation. So the question then is: are you willing to go through the consequences of that casual attitude toward proof yourself?

    Are you, Nat, prepared to be arrested on flawed information, deprived of sleep, threatened, humiliated, raped, beaten, have a chemical light shoved where the sun don’t shine, or be attacked by dogs? Even if you’re innocent? I’m not, so I defend the principle of “innocent until (and unless) proven guilty.”

    Even if the crime they’re accused of is a terrible one. ESPECIALLY if the crime they’re accused of is a terrible one.

  • 7 Nat // May 13, 2004 at 1:11 pm


    I’m assuming, from the name, that you’re a female and, if not, then my apologies, for the following observation, in advance. I just make that notation as a prelude to offering the notion that if the terrorists prevail, you will be banished from society, confined to your house with no access to print or electronic media, forced to wear a tent-like garment with only a slit for your eyes and your activities will be totally dictated to you by men. Oh, and if you resist, these lovely people will cut off your hands.

    I might point out to you that Abu Ghraib is in Iraq – not the US. These assassins and terrorists are not Americans and not on American soil and therefore are not entitled to the protections of the US Constitution and the US legal code. It is a different theater and therefore your question as to whether I would want to be subject to military law is moot.

    This is a war. Against an enemy that has NO rules. Choose your side. If we want to win this war we are going to have to bring some heat to the other side. Big heat. If any of their foot soldiers, generals or whatever end up as our prisoners, they need to be interrogated for what they know. It could save lives.

    I am not for physically torturing the prisoners. But a little sleep deprivation or making them walk naked around a jail cell hardly seems to be that injurious to anything other than their “cultural sensitivities”. In time of war we shouldn’t be worrying about the enemy’s cultural sensitivities.

    Not if we want to survive, that is.

  • 8 Rick // May 13, 2004 at 1:16 pm

    I’ve already noted that you don’t appear to be reading any of the posts to which you respond — not in their entirety, that is. (Else you wouldn’t keep missing questions and issues.) I can’t help but wonder why you keep building straw men to knock down, false alternatives, red herrings and/or just keep ignoring what everyone else posts here.

    But I am immensely puzzled that you continuously refer to being forced to simulate sex acts while naked as “making them walk naked around a jail cell.”

  • 9 nick meyer // May 13, 2004 at 1:26 pm

    How did my name get into this Rick. I have been behaving and just observing. Although I do accept that you disagree with my politics i do not feel that I have really disclosed much about my beliefs. This is a very heated topic at the moment and I feel it is very politically motivated. As Nat has correctly noted we are “AT WAR” and I do not think this would be of any substance if we were not in an election year. In my mind and again I agree with my bud Nat, in war all bets are off. We are over there trying to take care of business before the business comes here and tries to take care of us. All the negative crap and no one wants to mention anything positive. Kids now going to school, hospitals open for business, running water, freedom to express your opinion vocally. But lets not publicize that lets publish pictures of terrorists getting some pay back. Remember a great book also says an eye for an eye. The least that you did for my brothers you did to me. War is hell on the home front too.

  • 10 Kent // May 13, 2004 at 1:33 pm

    There are very clear guidelines which our military forces must follow in the treatment of all detainees, regardless of their status of Prisoner of War, Retained Personnel, Civilian Internees or Other Detainees. Those guidelines are laid out in Army Regulation 190-8, these rules are also codified in regulations for all other branches of service.

    Section 1-5: (4) The inhumane treatment of EPW, CI, RP is prohibited and is
    not justified by the stress of combat or with deep provocation.
    Inhumane treatment is a serious and punishable violation under
    international law and the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

    b. All prisoners will receive humane treatment without regard to
    race, nationality, religion, political opinion, sex, or other criteria.
    The following acts are prohibited: murder, torture, corporal punishment,
    mutilation, the taking of hostages, sensory deprivation, collective
    punishments, execution without trial by proper authority, and all
    cruel and degrading treatment.

    c. All persons will be respected as human beings. They will be
    protected against all acts of violence to include rape, forced prostitution,
    assault and theft, insults, public curiosity, bodily injury, and
    reprisals of any kind. They will not be subjected to medical or
    scientific experiments. This list is not exclusive. EPW/RP are to be
    protected from all threats or acts of violence.

    So you see Nat, although they may not be directly afforded the protections of the US Constitution, they are protected by our own military laws.

  • 11 Nat // May 13, 2004 at 1:39 pm


    Your constant use of rebarbative prose anytime you mention President Bush reveals you to be a silly, childish and immature person.

    It’s impossible to have an adult converation with a person whose entire metier appears to be an obsession with making pejorative and demeaning remarks about The President.

    And for your information, your precious idol Clinton EVADED any form of military service. President Bush, by contrast served in the National Guard. Try to get your facts straight when you contrast a thoroughly decent and patriotic man such as President Bush with a convicted liar such as Clinton.

    And if your measuring stick of success was the death of bin Laden then Clinton failed at that also. Everyone else in the world, except you evidently, knows that Clinton lobbed a few cruise missiles at bin Laden to provide a smokescreen and a distraction from the fact that his bimbo was about to face a Grand Jury the next day.

    Grow up. You silly little man.

  • 12 Rick // May 13, 2004 at 2:05 pm

    Nick, I was puzzled when you asked, “How did my name get into this?” So I went back and searched to find out what you were talking about.

    It got in because I made a mistake. In the post above, where I said “And to Nick,” I meant to say “Nat.” I probably had a nick in my brain, if you’ll pardon the pun.

    If I lock you in prison or otherwise take away all your freedoms, make it impossible for you to resist me or talk against me and ensure that you have no way to rebel against me, I can absolutely guarantee you there will be peace. So I suggest you allow me to do this. And I don’t want to hear all kinds of negative crap about it; think of all the positive!

    The point is that any good being done does not justify or excuse the bad. Would your G-d find it acceptable to force people to live by his precepts? Why not? Think of all the good! Additionally, even if I were in favor of this war (which I’m clearly not), I would say the same thing about the bad things being done. Indeed, Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush are saying the same thing about the bad things that have been done. No one more clearly supports the war than those two!

    And you couldn’t possibly be more wrong about this only being an issue because it’s an election year — unless every year since this Administration came to power has been an election year. I, for one, have been pointing out problem with the man who said “There ought to be limits to freedom” ever since he first said that in response to someone making fun of him on a website. So claiming that these issues are only being brought up by us because “this is an election year” is, well, to put it nicely, just false. So why say it? Falsehoods will not advance your argument. They may sway people emotionally who do not realize that they are falsehoods. So I guess if all it’s about is “winning,” then it makes sense.

    Integrity requires something more.

    And we may very well be “AT WAR.” But this does not justify everything. When the man to whom you and Nat have invoked more than once was attacked by a soldier, he did not say to Peter, who cut off the man’s ear with a sword, “Good job, man! Hit him again!” I believe he said something like “Stop” (albeit probably in Aramaic). But he went a step farther. He bent down, picked up the man’s ear and reattached it to his head; healing him. That’s your model, friend.

    The “eye for an eye” motif comes from ancient Jewish writings — most of which have been rejected by Christianity. It was accompanied by “a tooth for a tooth.” It was an instance of a primitive form of retributive justice. Yet the Iraqis did not attack us first; we attacked them. They did not behead Nick Berg first (in fact, Iraqis, according to our own government, didn’t even do that; al Qaeda did); we forced the Iraqis to simulate sex acts on one another and reportedly have raped some of them. Hence, retributive justice isn’t our due.

    Even if it were, it is not the model of your Christ. I know. Unlike many Christians, I’ve read the New Testament, several times, and in different “versions,” or translations. (I’ve also translated five books of it from Koinè Greek to English myself, so I actually read beyond the first paragraph, Nat!) However, if you prefer living in a world of toothless blind people to modeling the life of your Christ, that’s your prerogative.

    As before, I happen to believe that’s a bad way to live. I think it hurts us all. I concur with Austin, writing in The Province of Jurisprudence Determined 208 (1st ed. 1832), when he said,

    [T]he law obtaining between nations is law…set by general opinion. The duties which it imposes are enforced by moral sanctions: by fear on the part of nations, or by fear on the part of sovereigns, of provoking general hostility, and incurring its probable evils, in case they shall violate maxims generally received and respected.

    Perhaps I’m in the minority on this, but I believe forcing Iraqi prisoners to simulate sex acts on one another is a violation of maxims generally received and respected, even if it’s because we’re upset with al Qaeda, even if it’s because we’re “AT WAR” with Iraq.

    Anyway, I do apologize for the mistake of having said “Nick” above when I meant “Nat.” Nat’s not reading the comments before responding anyway, so it was just as well. 😉 And in this current post, the parenthetical statement that invoked Nat was deliberate; not a typo or mistake.

    Welcome back, Nick. My disagreement with your ideas should not be taken as a dislike of you. I appreciate your participation in the discussion.

    REFERENCE NOTE: The excerpt from Austin was quoted in Janis, An Introduction to International Law, Fourth Edition (2003) Aspen Publishers, p.3, which I’m reading for a course I’m taking at the San Joaquin College of Law on International Law this summer.

  • 13 nick Meyer // May 13, 2004 at 2:07 pm

    Nat, What happened to our critics. It seems eerily quiet. Maybe common sense has finally prevailed. VIVA LE BUSH!!!!!!!!

  • 14 Rick // May 13, 2004 at 2:18 pm

    “Eerily quiet”? “Your critics”? “Common sense”?

    I guess you just didn’t realize that Nat told us all to go get lives. We don’t sit here all day waiting for comments. 😉 (I get them faster than most, because I get automagically notified whenever someone posts.)

    I’m surprised, too, that you and Nat have formed a team against everyone else, against the President of the United States, against the Secretary of Defense and against numerous fellow citizens, including soldiers, all of whom have spoken out against some of the same atrocities upon which we’ve been focusing lately.

    And, of course, I didn’t realize it was a competition, either. I’ve been laboring under the mistaken impression that we were trying to learn from one another.

    Maybe that’s why I’ve found myself agreeing at times with others, and have said so, while the closest any of “my opponents” have come is to thank me for a particular argument that he could use elsewhere for scoring brownie points.

  • 15 Mark // May 13, 2004 at 2:59 pm


    You’re a fine one to talk about obsession. I am grateful, though, that you seemed to cool on your unnatural obsession with me.

    If you believe Shrub’s own story (which very few do), he violated his oath to serve in the Guard for six years. That’s even IF you believe everything Shrub says.

    What has Shrub done to go after bin Laden? I know he allowed planes to ferry bin Laden’s family out of the United States in the days after 9/11 when American citizens were not allowed to fly. What has he done to try to get this guy? We all know the answer to that question: nothing.

  • 16 abi // May 13, 2004 at 3:38 pm

    Quoth Nick (welcome back, Nick!)

    Kids now going to school, hospitals open for business, running water, freedom to express your opinion vocally. But lets not publicize that lets publish pictures of terrorists getting some pay back.

    Do you have a source for that?

    I ask because my next door neighbor is currently in Baghdad, and that doesn’t match what his wife was telling me this evening. Apparently the power is off as often as it’s on, and the water isn’t reliable either. Security is a nightmare – no one dares go out at night.

    Why is he there right now? He’s trying to get his father out of the country, to where he can get medical care for his prostate cancer while it’s still treatable. The family has already been through a lot, with one of the sons in law killed in the “shock and awe” bombing.

    Naturally, I’m pretty worried about the standard of justice that is available to Iraqis, since a man I know to be a good husband and father looks just like the people that some bad apples among the American troops have been brutalising.

    So in the absence of any trials or presumption of innocence, how do our soldiers know which of the Iraqis they’ve been picking up are evil terrorists and which are innocent civillians?

  • 17 abi // May 13, 2004 at 4:38 pm

    Quoth Nick:

    freedom to express your opinion vocally.

    This one was niggling me for a while till I had a moment to track it down. See http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/03/28/iraq.main/ for details, but basically, the newspaper Al Hawsa was shut down by the civil administration for “inciting violence against coalition troops.”

    Now, the paper may very well have been doing so, and the administration may have shut them down for good reason, but that doesn’t exactly sound like the freedom of expression you’re claiming.

    Et quoth Nat:

    I am not for physically torturing the prisoners. But a little sleep deprivation or making them walk naked around a jail cell hardly seems to be that injurious to anything other than their “cultural sensitivities”. In time of war we shouldn’t be worrying about the enemy’s cultural sensitivities.

    The Red Cross report leaked to the Wall Street Journal mentioned more than being paraded around naked, or even made to simulate homosexual acts. It also brought up threats of, and attacks by, dogs; rape; sexual assault and beatings (some to death). How is that not torture?

    Also quoth Nat:

    This is a war. Against an enemy that has NO rules. Choose your side.

    I have. I choose the side that DOES have rules, and respects them, and punishes those who are found to have broken them. That’s what differentiates us from them, and it’s something to be proud of.

    But being proud of it also means not defending people who violate those rules. I can’t back soldiers who use their uniform as a cover for sadism, as these people are alleged to have done. Nor, I may add, do those soldiers’ leaders. President Bush, Secretary Rumsfeld, and General Powell (among others) have all condemned the torture uncovered in Abu Ghraib.

    In the end, as you have said many times, we need to ask ourselves what we are willing to do to defend ourselves against terrorists and extremists. I’m willing to hold fast to those principles that make us what we are. Sacrifice them, and we don’t need terrorists to destroy us. We’ll have done it ourselves and saved them the trouble.

  • 18 Nat // May 13, 2004 at 6:46 pm

    Yay, Nick!

    Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick. (the girls chant).

    Nick AND NAT! Hey, T-A-G T-E-A-M baby!!

    The might of the Right vs. the weasels of the left! Yeah!

    God-fearing, honest-and-hard-working, family-values-oriented, BUSH-VOTING Conservatives vs. In-our-fairyland-The-State-will-provide-everything-for-you, we will tell any LIE to fool you and get your vote, we just want political power, half-hearted supporters of the conceited Poodle Kerry.

    Hey! GWB! We luuuurve you, man. Let’s kick some terrorist rear end!

    God Bless America!

    Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick.

    Nat, Nat, Nat, Nat, Nat.


  • 19 Nat // May 13, 2004 at 7:02 pm

    abi writes:

    “The Red Cross report leaked to the Wall Street Journal mentioned more than being paraded around naked, or even made to simulate homosexual acts. It also brought up threats of, and attacks by, dogs; rape; sexual assault and beatings (some to death). How is that not torture?”

    I said I wasn’t for physical torture. However, making them parade around without their jammies on is not physical torture.

    I’m deeply concerned that the mock “outrage” of you and your ilk will serve to defenestrate our will and to handicap the ability of our Intelligence services to acquire vital information from detainees. Very concerned.

    Considering that your side is currently running an unprecedentedly vicious campaign of hate against George W. Bush and seeing your leftist friends every night on TV snarling with vituperative rage; the protests that you people are mounting because some mass murdering swine are being made to walk around an Iraqi jail without their jammies on strikes me as being thoroughly disingenuous.

  • 20 Kent // May 13, 2004 at 7:41 pm


    What you are suggesting that “the protests that you people are mounting because some mass murdering swine are being made to walk around an Iraqi jail without their jammies on strikes me as being thoroughly disingenuous”. The simple fact is that what you are advocating is in violation of the Geneva Conventions, US Law and Army regulation for our soldiers to be conducting. (Reference my earlier post on the subject of Army Regulation 190-8.)

    When we break the law or our own moral code we become no better than those we are supposed to be pursuing.

    Tonight on NBC news they did a story on the Army Interrogator School at Fort Wachuka. The reporter noted that none of the current Interrogators at Abu Ghraib went through this school. Several of the Instructors made it very clear that none of the things you are advocating are legal nor accepted practices.

  • 21 Nat // May 13, 2004 at 7:54 pm

    I say George W. Bush has done a superb job in containing terrorism. A FAR BETTER job than his feckless, irresponsible predecessor (who had a reputation in the WH that he “didn’t do terrorism”).

    And I have EMPIRICAL DATA to support my contention:

    * There were 190 acts of international terrorism in 2003, a slight decrease from the 198 attacks that occurred in 2002, and a drop of 45 percent from the level in 2001 of 346 attacks.

    * A total of 307 persons were killed in the attacks of 2003, far fewer than the 725 killed during 2002. A total of 1,593 persons were wounded in the attacks that occurred in 2003, down from 2,013 persons wounded the year before.

    * There were 82 anti-US attacks in 2003, which is up slightly from the 77 attacks the previous year but represents a 62-percent decrease from the 219 attacks recorded in 2001.

    Source: U.S. Department of State. The US State Department annual report on global terrorism.

    Clearly this data which shows how successful Bush has been in containing terrorism, makes a very strong case for the re-election of George W. Bush.

    Of course, for those of you on the left, I realize that not even hard data can assuage your all-consuming, irrational and corrosive hatred. However, the facts are the facts. Let’s just hope that normal people will have an opportunity to weigh and reflect on facts like these.

  • 22 Mark // May 13, 2004 at 9:34 pm


    How come you want to give Shrub credit for drops in terrorist attacks, yet you don’t want to blame him in the loss of three million jobs during his tenure, nor give his precedessor credit for the TWENTY MILLION JOBS created on his watch?

    How about the number of weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq? Can you count to ZERO?

  • 23 Rick // May 13, 2004 at 10:34 pm

    This is a great accomplishment.


    It did not include most of the attacks in Iraq [or Afghanistan], because attacks against combatants did not fit the U.S. definition of international terrorism.

    And, of course, Ambassador Black notes,

    I don’t know what the figure would be if you included combatants. Certainly in Afghanistan or Iraq, you’d have to ask the Department of Defense. According to our definition, the way we view this issue, it is not terrorism if these people engaged — engaged coalition or U.S. military forces that are armed and in a combat situation. That’s conflict and combat. We don’t consider that to be terrorism. If one were to include all these numbers, it would obviously be a lot higher. I don’t know what that number would be, nor am I particularly responsible for it.

    They don’t count any of the deaths of soldiers or armed civilians in Iraq or Afghanistan. In fact, this means that

    Most of the attacks that have occurred during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom do not meet the longstanding US definition of international terrorism because they were directed at combatants, that is, US and Coalition forces on duty.

    (Kinda funny how I have to keep adding the information about Afghanistan, huh? The U.S. government appears to have forgotten that Afghanistan exists. Maybe that’s why they don’t count the attacks there, either?)

    Of course there are less attacks elsewhere — there’s an actual concentrated $50 billion/year war going on in Iraq. (That’s just our cost, so far.) Yet, more Americans died, if you count all Americans.

    What will happen if the war ever ends?

    And how much did the United States benefit from this? There were how many less terrorist attacks in San Francisco? How many less in Los Angeles? How many less in Washington, D.C.? Chicago? Seattle? Iowa? Kansas?

    What I’m trying to say is that I don’t believe the President should be elected — or fail to be elected — on the strength of what he’s done in other countries. We are occupying those countries and we don’t count our dead in that situation.

    I will say this, though. I think all Americans should take a serious look at their lives and the lives of their friends. If you believe that your life is better today than it was before George Bush became President, then perhaps you should ignore civil rights issues, the economy, what’s been done in this war, the reaction of the world to the United States (not just our recognized enemies, but those we’ve called friends) and the devastation of our state economies, educational systems and environment.

    When looking at these things, look at your own life and the life of your friends. You don’t need cooked numbers and “news” reports that one day point one way and the next point another. Judge by your own experiences. Your gas bill? Your food bill? Your house payment? Your utilities bill? Your taxes — yes, yours. Did your taxes go down? Or did you just hear that “someone’s” taxes went down?

    If, after seriously considering these things, your own life is better, then vote for Bush. Do so with my blessing (I don’t have children). If not…

    …it might be time for a change.

  • 24 abi // May 14, 2004 at 12:48 am

    Quoth Nat:

    I’m deeply concerned that the mock “outrage” of you and your ilk…

    You assume that my outrage is a mockery. Believe me, it is very real. Nor is it merely the outrage of people of “my ilk,” whatever that may mean. It’s the outrage of quite a few Republican-voting hard-talking soldiers, the President (remember him?), and most of the rest of the world.

    Note, as well, that there’s room in my outrage for the animals who beheaded Nick Berg. If we can catch them (and prove that the people we catch ARE them), then let the full force of the law apply.

    Considering that your side is currently running an unprecedentedly vicious campaign of hate against George W. Bush and seeing your leftist friends every night on TV snarling with vituperative rage…

    A feeling you must recognise well from the mirror, based on the tone of your postings here. I don’t watch much TV, much less American TV, but it sounds to me like both sides of this debate are spending a lot of time snarling at one another. Leave the sound off sometime and see if you can tell the difference between one side and the other based on facial expressions.

    …the protests that you people are mounting because some mass murdering swine are being made to walk around an Iraqi jail without their jammies on strikes me as being thoroughly disingenuous.

    Do you actually read anyone’s posts, even the ones you quote? Or do you assume that people are protesting the humiliation (itself a violation of the Geneva conventions, as Kent has pointed out twice) and totally unconcerned about the beatings, assaults, dog attacks and rapes?

  • 25 Nat // May 14, 2004 at 8:42 am


    Surprise! I read YOUR posts. You are actually capable of inductive and abductive reasoning which generally, but not always, leads me to take your arguments seriously and evaluate the points you are making. Your posts stand in clear contrast to those of the one-sided, one-dimensional pratings of mark whose puerile and sophmoric attacks on the person of The President are simply reductio ad absurdum and cause me, therefore, to refrain from imputing any credibility to his nonsensical allegations.

    If you believe that I have not grasped a point you are making perhaps you should pause and evaluate as to whether your counterclaims are effectively represented? Rather than assume that I am ignoring what you say, perhaps you should look in your OWN mirror and ask yourself if your posts are clarifying or confusing the matter at hand. If you make an effective refutation of any premise I advance, I am more likely to acknowledge your argument rather than, as with the immature and thoroughly silly offerings of mark, dismiss it out of hand. However, if I consider your post to be an effective counterclaim, on its own merit, then I am more likely to engage you with a response.

    A non-response should not lead you to conclude that your offerings are not being read and pondered. It should lead you to question whether you have been an effective advocate of the particular issue you’re promoting or the point you are making. Not saying this applies inherently to your posts – as it certainly does to mark – I just see little point in responding to triteness and banality.

    Ergo, the issue must be one of interest and your counterclaims must be logically fashioned for me to engage in a contrapuntal discourse with you.

    Have a nice day.

  • 26 Mark // May 14, 2004 at 9:20 am


    Put your thesaurus down. Pedantic writing impresses no one. I should know. I wrote like that when I was in high school. Fortunately, a history professor in undergraduate school pulled me into his office and cared enough about me to tell me my writing was terrible.

    In my early 20s, I was fortunate enough to win state-wide and region-wide awards for my work in the field of journalism. So I feel qualified to say…

    Your last post really stinks. I know you can write better than that. You’re not impressing anyone with your style, nor with your sophmoric insults of me.

    Only someone who cares about you would tell you this, Nat.

    It’s a shame that you are a meteoroligist and (apparently) in Florida. I truly wish you were an attorney in California. Facing off against you in a courtoom would be too much fun!

  • 27 Rick // May 14, 2004 at 9:24 am

    I believe Abi’s assesssment — and mine — that you are not reading the posts is not based (solely) on any lack of response, but upon the repetitive comments that

  • Iraqis are being made to “parade around without their jammies on” (which you find not to be a problem, even though if this were all that was happening, it would still be a violation of the Geneva Convention). We keep pointing out that being made to simulate sex acts, being raped, being threatened and/or attacked by dogs and being beaten is not merely “parad[ing] around without their jammies on.”
  • You have (at least once) stated that our “sole obligation” was to honor the Geneva Convention. You appear to have dropped that comment after it was noted that all the things being done are a violation of the Geneva Convention, but continue to assert that they are okay because we are “AT WAR” — although that’s one of the reasons the Geneva Convention was signed by us; it’s primarily for when countries are at war.
  • You complain that we don’t support the President. Yet while you argue what happened in Abu Ghraib is just fine and not a problem, the President himself said, “People in Iraq must understand that I view those practices as abhorrent” and “They must also understand that what took place in that prison does not represent the America that I know.” So who is more in agreement with the President on that issue? You? Or us?
  • You consistently talk about “leftists…snarling with vituperative rage,” although your posts have contained more invective than ours and far less facts.
  • We can also add to the list that you think we’re nuts because we aren’t overjoyed at the report from the Administration that terrorist attacks are down. As you yourself noted, there’s a “war” going on. Many of the resources of both the terrorists and the United States are tied up in it. So one (and only one) reason I’m not impressed is that the situation is not actually better, we just changed the clothing on the dead: more of them now wear combat gear. I think it will be a good thing — and I will credit Bush for that if it happens because of his imperialism — if terrorist acts are significantly reduced without creating mini police states both here and abroad.

    And the Ambassador who gave us that report said himself that the attacks (some numbers went up, by the way; not down) didn’t count the casualties in Iraq or Afghanistan. Like the unemployed in the U.S. who have given up on finding work after so many jobs were sent to China and the Far East, these numbers used to matter. Redefining the groups so you don’t count them looks good on paper; cemetaries can’t read, though. Neither the dead nor the unemployed can eat paper.

    You fail to understand that we don’t agree with the idea that our sole goal is to stop terrorists. Think of it this way: If terrorists are symptomatic of a disease and the world is the patient, we’d like to see a cure that doesn’t kill the patient while relieving the symptoms. We’d like to see the disease itself cured. The solution to a headache is not a Howitzer, although the headache will surely cease to be a problem in that case.

    It’s worth noting that in the opinion of many of us, the terrorists are, as I said, the symptoms. They are not the disease itself.

    And, lastly, those of us in the U.S. would like to see our own constitutionally-driven and constitution-respecting government returned to us.

    A little attention to our domestic issues — budget deficits, trade deficits, job deficits, excessive gasoline prices, etc., would be nice, too. (Speaking of which, how is it that oil is only now coming up to the “record levels” of the past as to the cost per barrel, but gasoline is far higher — in some areas reaching $3/gallon — than ever before in our history?

    Who wrote the national energy policy that makes this possible?

  • 28 Nat // May 14, 2004 at 10:42 am

    Nice try. But you Liberals always give yourselves away. I will give you this much – I had to wade through your entire post to get to the giveaway statement.

    “Excessive gasoline prices”?. Please. Can’t you people even say or write ONE phrase without adding your left-liberal-bias SPIN to it? By whose definition are these “excessive”? What level SHOULD they be?

    Who do you suppose sets gas prices? Oh, I know you people would like to have the world believe that Vice President Cheney does this, at the behest of Haliburton, but that, of course, is another lunatic fantasy of the leftwing hatemongers.

    The market sets oil prices. Right now the prices are being impacted by the entry of the Chinese into world oil markets. The Chinese economy’s demand for oil has been increasing exponentially year-over-year for the past several years and is now to the point where it is now taking up a serious amount of the world’s oil production.

    Couple that increased demand with the fact that you Liberals are constantly blocking access to drilling of our US reserves, such as ANWR, leading to the resulting suppression of supply and, voila. You have an imbalance in the supply and demand equation. Result? Higher prices.

    It is the marketplace that is doing this. You Liberals can lie and distort all you want but the marketplace is where you should look for the cause of higher prices. As for your cheap shot of “excessive” prices, please define “excessive” before you throw a log like that on the fire or else refrain from such incendiary, irresponsible rhetoric.

    The Bush Administration has submitted an Energy Bill to Congress. Twice. Who is holding up passage of the bill? Why your pals, the conceited Poodle Kerry and the nasty, spiteful little man Tom Daschle. We would have a national energy policy were it not for the mean-spirited pettiness of these Liberal Democrats.

    It is precisely because of the games the Liberals are playing that the US cannot impact oil prices. So for you people to turn around and sneer at the Bush Administration over gas prices is the very essence of Liberal hypocrisy.

    Now if we could just find a way to run automobiles on Liberal hypocrisy. The Arabs would be out of business overnight.

  • 29 Nat // May 14, 2004 at 10:49 am

    (Telephone ringing sound}

    “Hello, Texaco Serv-Mart”

    “Hi, is this the Texaco station on Huntington and Aliquippa?”

    “Yes, it is. How can I help you”.

    “Well, this Vice-President Dick Cheney. I am going to fax over your gas prices for this week, so please keep the fax line open for a few minutes”.

    “Certainly, Mr. Vice President. Thanks for the great job you and President Bush are doing and I’ll be sure to make sure our fax line is up for your weekly update of our gas prices. Take care Mr. Cheney”.

    “Thank you on behalf of the American people and on behalf of Haliburton”.

  • 30 Rick // May 14, 2004 at 10:59 am

    As usual, straw man arguments, easily knocked down. Good job.

    Your comments about the market setting the prices begs the question. Once again, I wonder if you read everything I wrote or just the words that got your creative juices flowing and supplied you the hay.

    I asked why — if oil prices are just now (according to comments on CNN last night) reaching the highs they held some 20 years ago — why is it that we’re paying between $2 and $3 per gallon?

    I didn’t pay that in 1980.

    At the same time, the man who runs the gas station I frequent tells me he makes less per gallon than he ever did. He indicates to me that the lion’s share of the price per gallon goes to — gasp! surprise! — oil companies.

  • 31 Mark // May 14, 2004 at 11:00 am

    Actually, Shrub’s record-high deficits have a good bit to do with the high oil prices in this country. Oil prices in Europe are rising — but only slightly. The U.S. Dollar is dropping like a stone in its value compared to other currencies world-wide. This makes anything we buy on international markets vastly more expensive than it used to be.

    Why is the dollar dropping? Other markets and sane heads everywhere are concerned about the borrow-and-spend deficits of Shrub. Just ask any of your friends who plan to travel abroad this summer. They’ll tell you the prices are killing them. It’s because of the weak dollar.

    If the Supreme Court ever allows us to have a Democratic president again, fiscal responsibility will be restored, and the dollar will rise again!

  • 32 Nat // May 14, 2004 at 11:08 am

    {Telephone ringing sound}

    “Vice President’s Office”

    “Hi, this is David Lesar.”

    “Right away, Mr. Lesar, I’ll put you straight through”

    “Hello, Dick Cheney”

    “Dick, it’s Dave Lesar”

    “Oh, hi boss. What do I need to do today?”

    “Well, Dick, I think you need to do another broadcast fax to all US gas stations”

    “Do you think that we can get away with another increase? You know some Liberals are already calling gas prices ‘excessive’?”

    “Dick, US gas prices, in relative terms, are still cheaper today than they were when Jimmy Carter took office”.

    “You mean relative to GDP and average incomes, people are paying less than they did when that little naif Carter almost botched the entire US economy by causing the Arab boycott in 1978?

    “That’s right. Gas is STILL a heck of a deal in the US. Why those scrubs in Europe pay $7 a gallon”.

    “Ok Dave, condider it done. What else does Haliburton want me to do today?”

  • 33 abi // May 14, 2004 at 11:14 am


    I note that Rick understood what I was saying in point 1 of his list.

    But I’ll say it again. And I’ll use short sentences and small words. I apologise in advance that some of them have more than one syllable, but I will try to keep it simple.

    You wrote:

    I am not for physically torturing the prisoners. But a little sleep deprivation or making them walk naked around a jail cell hardly seems to be that injurious to anything other than their “cultural sensitivities”. In time of war we shouldn’t be worrying about the enemy’s cultural sensitivities.

    I replied:

    The Red Cross report leaked to the Wall Street Journal mentioned more than being paraded around naked, or even made to simulate homosexual acts. It also brought up threats of, and attacks by, dogs; rape; sexual assault and beatings (some to death). How is that not torture?

    This is the reply I am not sure you read. Maybe it was too subtly worded, so let me rephrase it. The Red Cross (an impartial, international organisation; you may have heard of it) reported that the things you talk about (“a little sleep deprivation or making them walk naked around a jail cell”) are not the only things that happened. The detainees also suffered:
    – the threat of being attacked by dogs
    – actual dog attacks
    – at least one rape
    – at least one sexual assault (translation: someone stuck a chemical light up his anus)
    – beatings, from which at least one person died

    I felt that these things were torture. I wondered if you did as well.

    You replied, after quoting the paragraph above:

    I said I wasn’t for physical torture. However, making them parade around without their jammies on is not physical torture.

    Further on in the same post, you then said:

    …the protests that you people are mounting because some mass murdering swine are being made to walk around an Iraqi jail without their jammies on strikes me as being thoroughly disingenuous.

    In othe words, you completely ignored the quote you copied into your post, the one starting “The Red Cross report leaked to the Wall Street Journal…” Or you assumed that anyone protesting about Abu Ghraib was ignoring the rest of the Red Cross report and focusing on the least of the crimes they reported.

    That was so stupid an assumption that I charitably figured you had not read the quote in question.

    If that was not a clear enough explanation, please post again and I will use shorter words and simpler sentences.

  • 34 Mark // May 14, 2004 at 11:48 am

    It’s apparent that Nat cannot understand the difference between price levels and price increases.

    He also doesn’t understand that the scripts Karl Rove and Karen Hughes give to Shrub tell him to act concerned and upset over the prison torture in Iraq.

    What do you think is wrong, Nat? Don’t Rove and Hughes listen to drug-addicted simpletons on the radio?

  • 35 abi // May 14, 2004 at 12:22 pm

    Quoth Nat:

    Why those scrubs in Europe pay $7 a gallon

    …the majority of which is taxation, and therefore not comparable, since the US does not use gasoline tax to raise substantial revenue – or to discourage driving.

    If you’re curious, much of the money raised via gas taxes in the UK ends up in the National Health Service, making sure that there is no such thing as “the uninsured” in Great Britain. Some of it also goes to support and subsidise public transport, just as some goes to build and improve the roads.

    (This is a nonpartisan, factual post.)

  • 36 Nat // May 14, 2004 at 12:49 pm


    I don’t need a lecture from you on reading comprehension and you can skip the condescending Liberal attitude. Also your attempt to co-opt Rick, by reference, was simultaneously brazen and amateurish. Let Rick speak for himself.

    I said that I didn’t condone anything beyond sleep deprivation or being made to stand naked. I don’t know why you want to keep trying to extend this discussion. To paraphrase Pontius Pilate … “I have said what I have said.”

    I find it interesting how you Liberals don’t even stop, for a minute, to realize how absurd, unreal and ilogical your protests sound. Can you answer this. If these poor little mass murdering thugs have such a problem with nudity, how do they take showers? Can you explain that one? If they’re sooo “culturally sensitive” that they never take their clothes off, then how do they have sex? Through a hole in a sheet, maybe?

    Even elementary logic destroy the feebleness of your argument. Obviously they have to get naked, at various points in time, and obviously it doesn’t bother them EXCEPT when they can convince gullible Liberal fools, who desparately want to believe anything that casts the US in a bad light, that being naked is somehow “culturally offensive” to them. Bull.

    As far as having a light inserted in their rectum …please, get real! This happens a million times a day in the US. It’s called a colonoscopy. It’s a well known fact that terrorists have adopted the drug dealer tactic of having drugs or illegal matter inserted in their rectums to attempt to smuggle dope and other things. Terrorists use this tactic to convey information inside jails. Inserting a light into the rectum is a necessary law enforcement procedure. I seriously doubt this can be characterized as “torture”.

    I see from your spelling of “organisation”[sic] that you are, in fact, a Canadian. This explains a great deal of why you would want to pour out such vitriol regarding the United States conduct of the war, given the Socialist perspective of much of your countrymen which you very clearly share.

    Since you don’t have a horse in this race, your comments have to be viewed through the prism of your inbred distaste for us Yankee Capitalists.

  • 37 Mark // May 14, 2004 at 1:07 pm


    Is it possible for you to attempt to make a point without trying to insult someone?

    From what I’ve seen, I doubt it very seriously.

    I feel sorry for you.

  • 38 Kent // May 14, 2004 at 1:28 pm

    I see you like to quote the ultimate buck passer, the man was too afraid to make a decision for fear of making the wrong decision.

    Necessary law enforcement procedure! Quoting from Gen Taguba’s report, which Gen. Myers and Rumsfeld had yet to read over a month after it was provided to their offices:

    The Army survey of abuses described breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; beatings with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape; and “sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick.”

    Also in the report is this citation of some of the criminal acts (Taguba’s words) committed:

    — Forcing detainees to remove their clothing and keeping them naked for several days at a time;

    Elementary is the fact that every act we have discussed here and you advocate is illegal for our military to engage in under the Geneva Convention, US Law and Military Regulation.

  • 39 Harry // May 14, 2004 at 4:58 pm

    Here are some of my comments while reading the posts and the resulting comments over the last few days. Hopefully, the conversation will not have moved on by the time I get around to posting it. I also apologize if I repeat another?s comments before reading them. If it is one of the ?liberal? comments, then I say, ?great minds think alike.? If it is right-wing comment then ?fools seldom differ? springs to mind. Either way, I will be editing this as I read through comments but will probably not go back and delete simply because someone said it first. It can be edifying to know that people come to the same conclusion, even if from different reasoning.

  • 40 Nat // May 14, 2004 at 5:02 pm


    You’re acting way tooooo hysterical about this. Your little hissy fit has gone way too far. We’re talking about 7 out of 130,000 people. Do you have ANY idea of what percentage that is?

    That is 0.00002% of the US Armed Forces in Iraq.

    Here’s a tip. Call up your Statistics/Calculus professor and ask him if he would extrapolate from a sample based on 0.00002%, to represent a universe, and then count the number of minutes he laughs for while rolling around on the floor.

    You people are merely aping the Liberal-dominated media in an attempt to making the actions of 7 people a smear on a nation.

    Not happening.

    Unlike you Liberal-Arts majors, I had to actually taken courses in Applied Mathmatics. I know whereof I speak whereas you people are approaching this from a borderline sense of hysteria.

    Our system works. You cite the Teguba report? The Teguba report, in toto, is prima facie evidence that OUR SYSTEM WORKS. The alleged -please note the usage of the word “ALLEGED” because you Liberal hatemongers have already annointed yourselves prosecutor, judge and jury and have already made your guilty finding – perpetrators will be prosecuted in a Court of Law.

    Let the judicial system deal with this now.

    Get a life and move on. Do you not want to move on because that will require you to reveal your DISTINCT LACK OF ENTHUSIASM for the conceited poodle Kerry? I suspect so.

  • 41 abi // May 14, 2004 at 5:27 pm

    Quoth Nat:

    If you believe that I have not grasped a point you are making perhaps you should pause and evaluate as to whether your counterclaims are effectively represented? Rather than assume that I am ignoring what you say, perhaps you should look in your OWN mirror and ask yourself if your posts are clarifying or confusing the matter at hand.

    After my restatement, trying to clarify since he clearly hadn’t read or understood my previous post despite quoting it himself, he then said:

    I don’t need a lecture from you on reading comprehension and you can skip the condescending Liberal attitude.

    And, later, Nat said:

    I see from your spelling of “organisation”[sic] that you are, in fact, a Canadian. This explains a great deal of why you would want to pour out such vitriol regarding the United States conduct of the war, given the Socialist perspective of much of your countrymen which you very clearly share.

    Since you don’t have a horse in this race, your comments have to be viewed through the prism of your inbred distaste for us Yankee Capitalists.

    Bzzzzt! Thank you for playing, but try reading my previous posts.

    As I have stated in various other comments, I am an American citizen. The fact that I currently live abroad (Scotland, to be precise) does occasionally affect my spelling. It also affects my attitude, in that I am aware of America’s image and influence abroad. I also appear to have access to a better style of media investigation and debate than Clear Channel is drip-feeding you.

    Can we now return to the topic, or would you like to make speculative, incorrect and insulting comments on my appearance next?

  • 42 Kent // May 14, 2004 at 9:26 pm

    Nat, it is not 7 individuals. That is the number that have already been identified. In fact additional pictures have come out that show Military Intelligence officers present in groups. In one image where the infamous pile of prisoners was being shot, I counted 5 Intel officers with the 2 PFC that were in the first picture that everyone saw.

    What has occurred is what the military terms a “Failure of Leadership”. Let us examine some of the indicators. The Defense Department has removed many of the “Permitted Practices for interrogations” (The new rules amount to a tacit admission that the approved interrogation techniques might have gone too far in permitting inhumane treatment prohibited by the Geneva Conventions.). DOD has admitted that none of the guards at Abu Ghraib had proper training for the job. No interrogators at Abu Ghraid have attended the US Army Interrogator School at Fort Wachuka.

    From the moment they are captured, prisoners are hooded, shackled and isolated. The message to the troops: Anything goes. When Taguba made his report, Gen Myers and Rumsfeld failed to read it until well after their feet were put to the fire over a month later.

    A short time ago I got off the phone with my father, a member of his counties Republican Central Committee. His statement about the situation was that Rumsfeld needs to pack his desk now, if he will not, Bush needs to give him his walking papers. Hardly some “liberal whacko”.

    I think where fault lies is clearly pointed out by the ArmyTimes.com editorial: A failure of leadership at the highest levels.


    The perpetrators bear much responsibility, but the entire chain of command failed in this situation and those responsible must be held accountable.

  • 43 Blaming the Messenger // Sep 17, 2008 at 8:02 am

    […] so many Americans have trouble understanding why Muslims get upset about things like Americans forcing Muslim prisoners to simulate sex and Americans flushing the Islamic Bible (Quran) down the toilet — just imagine that some […]

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