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Parts of a Whole

January, 1973. Ten years old. I was standing by the front door with my parents - I believe it was early evening, could have been a little later than that. My father was holding the door open, my mother was next to him and I was in front of them, just outside the door, hopping from foot to foot because it was cold out and I had on socks, but no shoes. Funny what we remember, isn't it? My father was flicking the porch light on and off. As we looked down the block, we could see most of our neighbors doing the same. Someone was beeping a car horn, long and short beeps that sounded like morse code. We stood there in flicker light, amid short bursts of cheers and a few firecrackers from our surrounding neighbors. Then we shut the door against the cold and the noise and sat down to watch the news.
The Vietnam war had all but ended. I probably didn't know what a ceasfire meant at that age; I wasn't even sure what the war was about. I just knew it caused a lot of turmoil, rage and worry. I knew that my cousin protested the war every night, much to the worry of my aunt. I knew that the nightly news upset my parents. I knew that a lot of people had died. So it was with much relief that I greeted the end of the war. There were other moments like that in my life, ones that I remember with just as much clarity; putting yellow ribbons around our trees at the start of the first Gulf War and watching all my neighbors do the same, or staring out of the window of my high school at the busy road, cars streaming past with their headlights on even though it was broad daylight on a clear day. It was something started by a local radio host - everyone drive with your headlights on for the hostages in Iran. One kid in my class that day - I believe it was English Lit - asked our teacher what the purpose of doing such a thing was. His exact words were "What's the point? It's not like the hostages can see us." The teacher (I wish I could remember his name) replied that it wasn't for the hostages as much as it was for us - the people who were watching the hostage drama unfold. He said, We want to be a part of something bigger than us because it makes us feel less helpless in a situation like this. We can't really do anything for the hostages, but we can do something for ourselves. We can be united, and that gives us strength, and perhaps it will give the families of the hostages strength as well. Paraphrased, of course. My memory isn't that good. Fast forward to 2001. September 12th, to be exact. The Day After. It was late, maybe around 9pm. I went to the store for milk or bread or something mundane like that. After I left the parking lot of the store, something compelled me to drive around. Aimlessly, I drove. Down main streets, side streets, past strip malls and houses and the elementary school. There were people out, in large numbers. They stood on sidewalks, sat on curbs, hung out on their porches or gathered in the schoolyard. They had flags and they had candles. They sang, they talked, they hugged. I was still ensared in the liberal net at that point. Admiteddly, I was no great patriot. But the site of all those flags waving made me feel something I had not felt in a long time. Pride. Pride in my country and its people. I got out of my car by the school, but stood off to the side. I watched for a little while as an elderly man led a prayer amid a circle of people holding candles. A few minutes later, I headed home. Almost every house I passed had candles out at the curb. All kinds of candles set out by the street so that the whole block was glowing with the flickering of the flames. When I got home, I found some candles and put them outside by the street. I brought the kids outside and we lit the candles and said a prayer. There's nothing like 3,000 people killed in a terrorist attack to make an atheist pray. The kids went in and I sat on the grass for a while, staring at all the candles, watching my neighbor's flag sway in the wind. I felt part of something. Part of a whole. For the next few days America was that whole. We were together, we were strong. Even while we cried and mourned, we had strength and resolve. We were all in this together and while the candlelight vigils could do nothing to turn the clock back to September 10th, they at least gave us hands to hold. So what happened? When did we slip away from that great togetherness and split into fractions? I don't remember it happening all at once - it must have been a slow process, like ice breaking away from a glacier. I suppose this is why both sides of 9/11 - the September 10th side and the September 12th side, are so strong willed in their fight to be right. We each belong to part of a whole, and for most of us, that's an important thing to be. In much the same way people join fan clubs or go to Star Trek conventions or join book groups, it's because it makes us feel less alone. To feel alone is to feel helpless, sometimes weak. So we pound our stake in the ground of the side we've chosen, put out our sign and shout and holler with the rest. If we've reached a fever pitch, it's because we each feel the frightening scenario of our side losing coming closer. What happens when we are on the losing side? Our ranks thin, our circles of candle-holding friends gets smaller and we stop feeling like part of a whole. We become shards of glass. So each of us - whether you are on the left or on the right - fights like hell to keep that togetherness within the group. We fight because being part of something is the only way we can feel as if we are doing something to make ourselves heard; if turning on your car lights or tying ribbons or chanting slogans are the only way we can stop ourselves from feeling helpless, we do it. I miss those post 9/11 days when we were all, for the most part, in the same circle. I thought it was clear back then the we all had a common enemy and that enemy was not ourselves, not America. We've made enemies of each other now, and while we are busy fighting each other, our real enemies laugh at us and know that to divide is to conquer.

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Comments

I don't think it so much that there is not a common enemy but rather the approach to dealing with it. Unless one side of the argument just decides to throw up there hands and go along for the ride you will have differece of opinions. Democracy in action.

I think the immediate aftermath of 9/11 was only partially a united populace, but also an atmosphere where some people decided that they'd better keep their mouth shut regardless of how they felt.

I (unfortunately) know people who thought it was a great idea to attack the trade towers and pentagon, but they had to wait a while to pipe up and blame America.

Sometimes a death in the family can bring out the very worst behavior in people. Bickering over the estate, unresolved bitterness between siblings.

But it can also bring out the very best in people, something noble.

I think it's the character of the person that makes the difference.

The entire civilized world was on our side that day too, Michele.
http://www.privilogic.com/wordsfail/

What Bush did was squander that world unity by pursuing a needless war against a non-threat State actor that had no concrete ties to the 9-11 terrorists.
Remember, the French and the Germans have troops in Afghanistan. And the Germans have provided a lot of intelligence on the hijackers who had lilved in the Hamburg cell.

Is this fight against terror all about dropping bombs and sending troops...or should it also be about exercising our soft power? About our taking diplomatic measures that will erode support for terrorists among ordinary Middle Easterners who harbor them?

Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind behind the first World Trade Center bombing and the Cole bombing, grew up in the occupied territories of the Gaza strip. That says a lot about the kind of breeding environment that we as a superpower could try to dissolve by encouraging a peace settlement. Instead, Bush seems uninterested in trying to bring the Israeli and Palestinian sides together.

Whoops, I guess by thinking these thoughts I am siding with the enemy....

Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind behind the first World Trade Center bombing and the Cole bombing, grew up in the occupied territories of the Gaza
strip. That says a lot about the kind of breeding environment that we as a superpower could try to dissolve by encouraging a peace settlement.

So, we can try to bring peace to the Gaza strip and dissolve the disgusting breeding environment there, but Iraqis don't deserve the same treatment. Only places "occupied" by Jews get your sympathy, Sad?

The idea of peace between Israel and the Palestinians is a red herrring used by the dictators and terrorists of the middle east to keep the US distracted and occupied. We are not playing that game anymore. Clinton tried to bring about peace. Arafat walked away from a deal that gave him everything that they said they wanted. Peace is not of any actual interest. Why should Bush chase the carrot of peace in Israel when his job is to protect the USA and it's interests? The only way there will be peace in Israel is when the money funding the terrorist organizations is cut off. This means Iraq had to be taken out, and Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia need to be taken down as well. After the terrorists have lost their funding, the palestinians will finally get leaders willing to be serious about peace.

Kong

Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind behind the first World Trade Center bombing and the Cole bombing, grew up in the occupied territories of the Gaza
strip. That says a lot about the kind of breeding environment that we as a superpower could try to dissolve by encouraging a peace settlement.

AMEN BRAD!!

First, it is absolute, utter crap that liberals cannot be patriots. The United States was founded by liberals, and liberals have worked hard to defend and maintain it ever since.

Only a small percentage of extreme leftists blamed America for September 11, as well as extreme rightists. Remember, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell blamed America for September 11, too.

Second, I was in lower Manhattan September 11, and as an eyewitness I disagree utterly that people opposed to the Bush Regime's policies are living in a "September 10" world. The invasion of Afghanistan to route al Qaeda was necessary, but the Iraq War was not.

Iraq had nothing to do with September 11. Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with September 11. Saddam Hussein had no WMDs and was no threat to the United States. It is true that before March 2003 most of the world's intelligence community believed Iraq had biochemical WMDs (not nuclear), but they were not sure, and the consensus of most of the world was that inspections should continue. And most of the world was right. Bush was wrong. And this is one of the results.

Because of the squandering of money and military power in Iraq, we have neglected many other actions that really would have made America safer from terrorism, including a focused pursuit of al Qaeda. Thanks to Bush incompetence, al Qaeda is more dangerous than ever.

It's the Bushies who continue to live in the September 10 world, still planning to spend billions on missile defense at the expense of port security; still focusing on rogue nations instead of stateless terrorist organizations.

"Bush seems uninterested in trying to bring the Israeli and Palestinian sides together."

When the goal of one side is the complete eradication of the other, then compromise is simply not possible. Period.

Excellent post, Maha.

Maybe it would be better if you did away with comments altogether, Michele.

The fact that you can make a thoughtful, heartfelt post like this one and even it is consumed by sniping from both sides in the comments is not at all encouraging.

To make you feel better, Penn & Teller: Bullshit! returns tomorrow at 10:00PM on Showtimes with the season openner on PETA. It should be as fun as their season closer last year with the Evnironmentalists.

Maha: your use of the term "Bushies" says more about your worldview, and definition of patriotism, than you'll ever know.

If I read Michele right, it sounds like she and a lot of us would prefer an America where people can disagree about politics without it turning viciously personal, as we have it now.

Using a derogatory term about your own president makes it clear that you hate the man beyond his policies, and would hate him regardless of the stands he did or did not take.

Many of us were able to dislike the Clintons without wishing ill on our own nation. Oh, and America was hated overseas back then, too.

Notice how easy it is for me to acknowledge dislike of current Democrats and their positions without accusing them of being unpatriotic.

Feel free to try it yourself.

Yes, that hate America thing, that's new.

Hey geezer,
Appreciate that you didn't accuse Maha of being unpatriotic. Too bad Ari Fleischer couldn't have taken such a tone when he warned the news media not to criticize Bush shortly after Sept 11.

Michele,
No, I'm not only interested in the Gaza strip.
If Bush had come out and said, early on, that we need to invade Iraq to free the Iraqi people from the brutal Saddam Hussein regime that the Reagan administration had supported, and that his Dad turned a blind eye to Saddam's gassing of the Kurds...then I would have been more supportive. But that's not what Bush said before the war. All he could talk about was how Saddam was a grave and growing threat. How do you continue to trust this man?

Excellent post Michelle.

Brad makes a point that we should...

"or should it also be about exercising our soft power? About our taking diplomatic measures that will erode support for terrorists among ordinary Middle Easterners who harbor them?"

to which I must ask, Is this even possible? It should be clear by looking at history that Diplomacy does not always work, that it can in fact lead to more dangerous consequences. Is this a case like that? I'm afraid that I'm not smart enough to know for sure, but I suspect diplomacy is not the cure all many hope it could be.

Just look at the pictures of the burnt civilian contractors being dragged through the streets and mutilated. Does this seem like a group of people you would like to "negotiate with".

I think the fundamental breakdown these days stems from those who beleive that Iraq was a terrorist state and those that don't. I believe that it was, and may again become one.

Just my .02

Brad: you're welcome. As I recall, Fleischer wasn't announcing the suspension of Freedom of Speech; I personally don't see a problem with the words "People should watch what they say" following the murder of 3000 innocents.

As for the Iraq war, it would be helpful if more people would remember the other UN resolutions referenced by the administration, ones that actually did cover Saddam's abuse of his people.
By now, all anyone wants to talk about is WMD.

Regardless of the actions/inactions of previous administrations, this one is clearly trying, with a very limited mandate from its own electorate, to right wrongs that had killed hundreds of thousands.

I think it's easy to point to mistakes made, but takes some serious mental gymnastics to deny all the good that's transpired since Apr 03 in the Middle East. Consider giving credit when it's due.

Wow. Just wow. I guess it's lucky that I have today off so I can spend time fisking posts like this...

First, it is absolute, utter crap that liberals cannot be patriots. The United States was founded by liberals, and liberals have worked hard to defend and maintain it ever since.

Did I miss something? Who exactly is saying that?

BTW, the Founding Fathers can't be pigeonholed into any sort of liberal/conservative ideology. On some issues, they were what a modern person would call liberal. On others, they were conservative. The terms you are using have shifted definitions over the years, and don't apply.

And, so long as we're using grand statements about defending America, I'd like to point out that Conservatives have ALSO worked hard to defend and maintain America.

It'd be nice of you to mention that.

Only a small percentage of extreme leftists blamed America for September 11, as well as extreme rightists. Remember, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell blamed America for September 11, too.

No, Falwell and Robertson blamed "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way," NOT "America." And they were loudly, roundly criticized by the right. Hell, Rush Limbaugh ripped into them the very next day. Their statements were profoundly stupid (as is typical of those two), but nowhere did they blame America.

Second, I was in lower Manhattan September 11, and as an eyewitness I disagree utterly that people opposed to the Bush Regime's policies are living in a "September 10" world. The invasion of Afghanistan to route al Qaeda was necessary, but the Iraq War was not.
That's your opinion. Mine is different. So where does that leave us?

Iraq had nothing to do with September 11. Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with September 11. Saddam Hussein had no WMDs and was no threat to the United States.

Y'know, you're assuming a LOT when you make the statement that Hussein was no threat.

*Did he hate the United States? Yes.
*Had he, in the past, attacked allies of the United States, requiring a military response? Yes.
*Was he supporting terrorism and terrorist groups? Yes.
*Had he, in the past, made foolish mistakes and underestimated American resolve? Yes.
*Had he attempted to assassinate a former US president and the leader of a neighboring country? yes.
*Had he, in the past, possessed chemical weapons? Yes.
*Had he, in the past, actually used chemical weapons? Yes.
*Were his military forces actively attempting to shoot down American and British planes patrolling the no-fly zone? Yes.

Sounds threatening enough to me. YYou are assuming you can predict the behaviors of Hussein, a man who had an extensive history of making really stupid decisions.

Besides, this is not just about al Qaeda. AQ is a symptom, not the disease itself. If they were gone tomorrow another group just like them would take their place. In fact, there are ALREADY groups, like Islamic Jihad, that are in many ways more of a threat than al Qaeda. They just haven't hit us yet.

They will.

It is true that before March 2003 most of the world's intelligence community believed Iraq had biochemical WMDs (not nuclear), but they were not sure, and the consensus of most of the world was that inspections should continue. And most of the world was right. Bush was wrong. And this is one of the results.

You are covieniently forgetting the fact that for four years THERE WERE NO INSPECTIONS. The inspections only resumed after the US and her allies had massed a huge, invasion-ready military force on the border of Iraq and Bush was threatening to remove Hussein from power. A force like that can not be sustained indefinitely. How many years were we to keep this battle-ready force on the border, based in countries whos populations already despised us? What would have been Hussein's reaction when that force was reduced?

I'll give you a hint: bye bye inspectors. And it was extremely unlikely that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and others in the region would have ever allowed the US to rebuild a force after that had it been required to deal with Hussein in the future. In any case, even Hans Blix said that Iraq was not cooperating fully with inspectors, a requirement to prevent invasion.

Because of the squandering of money and military power in Iraq, we have neglected many other actions that really would have made America safer from terrorism, including a focused pursuit of al Qaeda. Thanks to Bush incompetence, al Qaeda is more dangerous than ever.
That is an out and out LIE. Much of AQ's leadership is dead and on the run. They have lost their main staging ground and training area, Afghanistan. They have been reduced to small-scale attacks on soft targets, not the showy Sept. 11th-style attacks.
It's the Bushies
"Bushies?" Right. You expect to be taken seriously, and yet you use terms like "Bushies?"
who continue to live in the September 10 world, still planning to spend billions on missile defense at the expense of port security; still focusing on rogue nations instead of stateless terrorist organizations.

Umm, HELLO?!? Rogue nations are where terrorists train. They help fund terrorist groups. They provide weapons. They provide safe ground for terrorists to hide.

Look, there comes a time when you have to say "enough." Hussein was not complying fully with either UN resoltions or the Gulf War cease fire. He had a long history of aggression, mistakes, and deception. He was a major destabilizing force in the mideast, and there was no sign that was going to change, no sign he was going to have a Libya-like moment of Zen awareness and begin to cooperate fully. (Not that Kaddaffi was cooperating much until he saw the US and her allies take down another country in three weeks). In the meantime, many thousands of Iraqis died each year under Hussein, many others died from the sanctions that were required to keep Hussein (poorly) in check.

Eventually, Iraq had to be dealt with, and Bush made the decision to deal with the problem. You might not like it, but that's his job. Feel free to vote against him.

It's ridiculous to argue that we can defend ourselves by pouring resources into scanning machines in Port Elizibeth.
That is a gross delusion. We have a global economy and the most open boarders in the world. Unless we are willing to give up on being an open society, shut down the boarders completely, virtually eliminate global trade, we will be at risk until we eliminate the enemy.

The problem is that our fight with al-Qaeda will go on for decades.

9/11 proved to most Americans that the murderous ideology of radical Islam would stop at nothing. You can't look at the carnage of 9/11 and not see that someday we will be facing WMDs used as terrorist weapons against our cities. That was what we all were facing on 9/12; the fact that we are in a race against time. OBL and others have the motive and opportunity. They only need the means. If you believe that this ideology will take decades to defeat then if you aren't willing to take on some of these dysfunctional nation states then I'd recommend moving away from any of our large cities.

WMDs are very difficult to build without state sponsorship. So it makes sense to pursue a policy where you can show nation states and their rulers that they will be held accountable for their actions.

Our invasion of Iraq was a demonsration of raw power. It proved we could go in and take out the biggist and most powerful bully in the Middle East. It proved that the fickle voice of world opinion wouldn't weaken our resolve. It proved we could capture him for trial by his own people. It proved we had the will to stick it out. It also proved that we are not going to wait to be sucker punched.

These lessons are not lost on the various thugs in charge of their own nation states. They know that we will come after them and we will be successful. In that sense we have bought ourselves some time.

I don't know whether our policy will be successful but it will certainly make it harder for al-Qaeda to convince some dictator that it is in his own best interest not to seek a tactical alliance.

I meant to say: "that it is in his own best interest to seek a tactical alliance."

Otto,

You are on a serious liberal kick-ass roll today!!!!

Keep up the fine work!!!!!

Hey Evil Otto,
Instead of spending half an hour repeating Bush admin dogma, why don't you take a full hour and read this report:
http://www.ceip.org/files/projects/npp/resources/iraqintell/home.htm

And what about North Korea? Why haven't we invaded them--aren't they more of a threat than Saddam?

The point is, we can't attack everyone. We have to focus on imminent threats. Saddam was not an imminent threat.

And he had nothing to do with Sept 11.

Michele,

Once again, excellent post. I too remember those post 9/11 days and despite the overwhelming sorrow and anger, there was this palpable feeling of unity. Like nothing else mattered but the pain of our country as a whole. There were no politics, no bickering, no you-are-so, I-am-nots. We all felt pretty much the same.

You say you arent sure when this changed to what we have now. Well, we Americans tend to have very short memories. Some are just so involved in their own lives that they forget, some prefer to not remember what that time was like. Others just don't give a rat's ass. There are those who might have shared sentiments with their fellow Americans in those days on a human level, but despise the country they live in with such passion that they let themselves be blinded by their own zealous rhetoric. Its not that Islamic militants, radicals, terrorists and others hate Americans. Its that there's Americans that hate America.

Brad,

And he(Saddam)had nothing to do with Sept 11.

How can you so convince yourself that this statement is absolute fact? Seriously, you have to be pretty naive to believe this. Were you are part of Saddam's government? Were you on the ins with al Quada? You have made this statement over and over again and expect it to be taken as gospel. How the heck can you be so absolutely sure?

What Brad is arguing for is proof beyond a "reasonable doubt".
Somehow the butcher's of the world require this level of proof before any nation can legally intervene. Somehow in a civilized society "probable cause" is enough to get someone arrested, but in international law if you are running a dictatorship there has to be a higher burden of proof. Even if you have a track record of gassing and commiting mass-murder.

At the risk of sending brad into a lefty rage, because those of us on the right don't share his view, let me just point out this little argument that I have seen too many times

And what about North Korea? Why haven't we invaded them--aren't they more of a threat than Saddam?

The old standard - we can't deal with that evil because we aren't dealing with ALL the evil. Of course, you have to believe first that Saddam's Iraq was evil, and even that evil exists.

Defense Guy: Brad is already living in his own little world. He believes those who are icky enough to disagree with him are "repeating Bush admin dogma".

Keep that in mind when responding to him. (Same with the guy who flings the word "Bushie" around.)

Instead of spending half an hour repeating Bush admin dogma

Stop. Right. There.

Look, asshole, if you're not even going to bother refuting what I said, then don't bother writing anything to me, because you aren't worth my time. You might want to do yourself a favor and assume, just assume for a moment that we're NOT all a bunch of brainwashed Bush cultists. I guess that makes it easy for you to dismiss everything I wrote, Eh, Brad?

Well, it didn't take long for this thread to get hijacked. I think that I would've been deleting comments and banning the lamest of the lame from the very beginning. But I don't have a lot of patience.

On topic: People were either changed by 9/11 or they weren't. Those of us who were changed cannot understand those who were not, and vice-versa. There is a major problem with this dichotomy in that the number of people on the unchanged side appears to be equal to the number of people on the changed side, which means our policy towards the war on terror is not fixed past the near future. The fall election will shake out the truth. I hope things are better than I suspect. Otherwise, if we back off, we'll be seeing more events like 9/11.

sound of crickets chirping

I think Brad is gone.

People were either changed by 9/11 or they weren't. Those of us who were changed cannot understand those who were not, and vice-versa.

Ain't that the truth. I didn't personally lose anybody that day, but too many did. I think too many have just gone back to sleep.

Getting back to the subject:

I, too, was 11 years old in the early months of 1973. Was a little removed from the protesting, but knew about it, and the distain many in America had for the military.

It was personal for me, however. I was living on Clark Air Base in the Philippines at the time. As a military brat, I knew friends whose fathers were POWs and MIAs, even a few that were classified as KIA.

During the second two weeks of February, our POWs came home. We knew that these POWs had heard that Americans thought they were war criminals (Vince - I don't ever want to read the word "murder" from you again unless it relates to a REAL war crime), and we were gonna make damn sure that they were going to get the homecoming that they deserved.

We weren't sure what to expect when the first flight landed (stories of brain washing, crushed spirits, etc. were rumored). The crowd had big "Welcome Home" signs but were quiet and respectful as some of the POWs came out of the side exit of the C141, but many on the first flight exited out of the back ramp directly onto buses and couldn't be seen by the crowd.

Then, from out of a tinted bus window, a small, obviously handmade, American flag popped out, held at the top corners by unknown hands. The crowd erupted with a roar.

I'd like to think that post 9-11, even people like Vince and MAHA would be cheering with me in a similar situation today; in Feb of 1973 I doubt it would have been the case

Thanks for writing that Michele.

I was so deeply moved after September 11. I live in the Midwest, and the flags stayed up for a long time (a lot of them are still up). I remember the prayer vigils, the candles, people giving blood, people donating money. A group of Christian women donned hijab and stood guard outside an Islamic school for attacks that never came. Everyone seemed proud of their country.

The common wisdom is to say 9/11 changed everything. I become more saddened every day to realize 9/11 changed nothing, except improving the fortunes of 50,000,000 people in Afghanistan and Iraq. We're having a witch hunt now with the so-called independent 9/11 Commission; they're so busy trying to place blame anywhere but on the Islamofascist terrorists. In the meantime, those terrorists aren't wringing their hands about what mistakes they've made in the past; they're forging ahead. Attacks are happening every day, and we're not allowed to name the enemy.

Oh well, it's a gloomy spring day. Maybe things are better than they seem. All I know is that I have a bug-out bag by my front door that I hope I'll never have to use, but I fear that I will.

This is sort of on topic.

I was having an argument with my family the other day (actually, pretty much the above argument, for the 167th time, and no, I'm not going to say which side I'm on) and it put me in mind of a line from "On Liberty" so I looked it up; I apologize for the length:

"Why is it then, that there is on the whole a preponderance among mankind of rational opinions and rational conduct? If there really is this preponderance - which there must be unless human affairs are, and always have been, in an almost desperate state - it is owing to a quality of the human mind, the source of everything respectable in man either as an intellectual or as a moral being, namely, that his errors are corrigible. He is capable of rectifying his mistakes by discussion and experience. Not by experience alone. There must be discussion to show how experience is to be interpreted. Wrong opinions and practices gradually yield to facts and arguments, but facts and arguments, to have any effect on the mind, must be brought before it."

I'm not sure I agree with Mill here. He's more optimistic than I am, I guess, about human nature (almost by definition, writing as he was in the mid 19th century), perhaps because he was never privileged to observe online arguments.

However, I want to believe it; I think perhaps it's even a duty, as a citizen of a democracy, for me to believe it. I'm going to tape that quote (well, perhaps a shortened version) over my desk.

That will give me hope that perhaps all those blind, pedantic, close minded bastards who disagree with me are capable of eventually being dragged kicking and screaming into the sweet light of reason.

So, I guess no one's read this, then:

http://www.laweekly.com/ink/04/18/news-crogan.php

Inquiring minds want to know.

If the Okla lawyers don't botch it.

...One of the more provocative lines of inquiry over the past decade has been whether the plot included Middle Eastern terrorists. In the hours immediately after the blast, law enforcement publicly focused on that possibility. But the arrest of McVeigh, within hours of the bombing, and Nichols, who turned himself in two days later, wiped that theory from the national consciousness. Over the years, the possibility of a larger conspiracy has piqued the interest of only a handful of people with the power to pursue the questions, including a member or two of Congress.

Suspicion that the bombing involves a Middle Eastern connection begins with an all-points bulletin issued by the FBI three hours after the explosion for a truck like one stolen from the blue-collar Oklahoman. It was a brown Chevy pickup, with tinted windows, seen speeding away from the area, with two Middle EasternĖlooking men inside. Later that day, the FBI canceled the alert, and has never said why. When Timothy McVeigh, a disillusioned Gulf War vet, was arrested and charged on April 21, questions about that mysterious brown truck and its Arab-looking occupants faded away....

---

BTW, Morocco didn't attack us, either, but that was our first stop, not Japan.

Michele,

Gees, did you subscribe to Trolls Rí Us. I havenít lost the anger I felt on Sep 11th. If anything it has grown since the attack. Iím so tired of a constant stream of leftists wanting us to bring all our troops home, hold hands, and sing Kumbaya. What level of protection from terrorist attacks is that going to bring us? I live just downwind from the worldís largest nuclear power plant (great planning to build it up wind from a population of 4 million). I feel itís absolutely necessary to have our Marines hunting and killing terrorists on the terroristís own soil, NOT OURS.

Why is that so hard to understand. I loved your post from the other day about the ROP. Today Iím waiting for the ROP reps to step forward and denounce killing people, dragging them from their vehicles, and hanging them in public. Where is the outrage? chirp, chirp chirp

And thatís all I expect we will hear. Islamonazis only understand one thing, and we possess it. We currently have a president who is not afraid to send solders into harms way to defend our way of life. We are not fighting for buildings, roads, schools, or shopping malls. We are fighting an enemy who simply hates us for who we are. The only way to defeat this enemy is to kill them before they acquire the means to kill us, period. When I watched the towers fall that terrible morning I knew we were at war. What frightened me later was that we had ignored that war for far too long.

I donít want to awake to another 9/11, although I fear it will happen again. I fear it will happen much sooner if the current democratic candidate for president gets elected. Will a second 9/11 bring the same unity the first did?

Michele,

I read this as a personal post so, rather than argue politics (and I think the politics you imply with this post are fairly balanced), I'd like to respond with a personal comment. I hope it doesn't come off as over-sharing. I'm responding to what I think is the core of your post.

I'm about 9 years younger than you are. So my memory of things that happened when I was 10 doesn't include any Vietnam stuff. But that was the year my dad became symptomatic. It was 1982, and the doctors didn't have an antibody test yet. In early 1982 the CDC was still calling it GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency). Other people were calling it "the gay plague", and very little was known about it. At first the doctors weren't even able to diagnose my dad, but his symptoms fit a certain pattern. Time would bear out their initial prognosis.

Between 1982 and 1989, when my dad died, the politics of AIDS underwent a series of massive shifts. The politics of being queer changed sympathetically.

When I was a little kid, my dad always told me that I could never talk about the things that went on in our house. I couldn't talk about who he dated. I couldn't talk about who came and went, and I had to be very careful about inviting people over. When he got sick, that had to be a secret too. So I spent seven years, living alone with my dad while he died of AIDS, not able to talk to anyone at school about it. Not able to talk to any of my friends about it and terrified that my teachers would suspect. Because in 1982 (all the way up through the early 90's), homophobia was the cultural norm. Queer parents could lose their children, and they were wide open to accusations of child abuse and pedophilia. And AIDS would have been a real deal-breaker. This state of affairs only started to improve significantly in my junior and senior years of high school.

But there was a social aspect to wide-spread homophobia as well. Even my liberal friends from school, the little hippy kids who ate granola and fruit leather, made gay jokes. And when AIDS hit the scene they made AIDS jokes. When I was in high school, rampant political correctness started to stifle some of the most mean-spirited comments, but most people still felt comfortable making gay jokes in the company of their close friends. And there was no end of movies and TV shows attacking queers or making fun of them.

In the 1990's the politics of the situation changed even more, and liberals started to be much more aggressive about putting the kebosh on AIDS jokes and homophobia. And all the people who had been such a danger to me when I was a kid changed their tune in response to social and political pressures.

The few who were willing to admit their own past wrongs generally excused them by saying it was a certain time. That was what people used to believe. Everybody felt that way. That was just the way it was back then. But I spent the 1980's watching an entire generation of young men die painful degrading deaths. I watched them die alone, because their families wouldn't speak to them. I went to funerals where parents and siblings refused to attend. I watched entire neighborhoods empty out, and thrift stores fill with the personal belongings of dead queers whose families couldn't even be bothered to stop by and clean out their apartments after they died. Or they were scared they'd somehow be infected by proximity.

There was a very real, horrible consequence to unity.

When it was happening, I was too close to it to stand up against it. I was afraid for my safety, and my dad's. And I was too young— too much in the habit of hiding it, because my dad told me to, to be speak out against the attitudes at school.

I would have liked to be on the same side as everyone else, on September 12, 2001. And in most respects I was. I agreed with most of what people were saying that day. But I'd learned the hard way to be actively hostile to groupthink. To try to come to my own conclusions. And as time passed and people went from a purely emotional reaction of shock and sadness and started to move into the process of planning a response, I found myself disagreeing with more and more people on the left and the right. The people on the right, as it worked out, are the ones who set the policy. So they're the ones I spend most of my energy arguing with. But both sides have accusing me of support the other at various points (or, as has happened here on ASV, of "supporting the terrorists"). When it comes to the war, dissent is, once again, a dirty word.

When I was 15 I was walking through a mall with a group of acquaintances and my friend Jon, this guy I'd known since I was 9. I'd stayed overnight at his house hundreds of times. Had dinner with him and his mom. Helped him with his paper route. Per my dad's instructions, I'd carefully kept him in the dark about my dad's illness for the entire time I'd known him. And I was walking through the mall with him and a bunch of other guys our age and he asked for a sip of my soda. I handed him the cup. He took a long drink. Finished. Then jerked like the cup had bitten him. Looked at me. Looked around in a comic parody of panic. And yelled, "What! You've got AIDS"

Everybody laughed. Big joke. For my part, I'd spent the night before sitting up with my dad while he puked his guts out for six hours because of the AZT. So I didn't laugh. But I didn't smack him down either.

That'll never happen again.

That's the lesson I took from something that happened when I was 10.

Interesting. There seems to be an image tag lurking in there somewhere. For those who're wondering, there wasn't supposed to be an image after "AIDS" toward the end there.

"You have made this statement over and over again and expect it to be taken as gospel. How the heck can you be so absolutely sure?"

Val, the point is that Bush has made the statement over and over again that "there can be no doubt" that Saddam had WMDs, and that there were links to Al Qaeda. The question should be, How the heck could Bush & Co. have been so absolutely sure?

Why do you trust them? Especially now that David Kay went in and looked and looked and couldn't find anything?

I'm not the one spending your tax dollars and sending our men and women to fight and die for this cause...THEY are. http://www.costofwar.com/

And Michele...is Evil Otto allowed to use the word "asshole" when it's directed at someone who agrees with you? Just asking. I really don't care what Otto calls me, but in light of an earlier remark you made about use of that word. You know, Defense Guy said something about me going into a "lefty rage," but if anyone is in a rage, it's Otto.

Different standards for neocons, I guess.

Otto, in case you didn't notice, I did refute your refutation of Maha. But in case you missed it, just go to my website. You'll find plenty of refutation there.


It was all just flag-waving. I wish it hadn't have been, but it didn't take long for the meaningless superficial crap to ooze back into place instead of a true and concerted effort to fix the fundamental flaws.

The CIA and FBI still don't work together. The new co-operative agency works well with neither.

Just more fingers to point and more to point fingers at when the next big hit strikes.

Urge to make aliyah rising...

Brad, when did I say anything about using that word?

For those who are awake.

Here's a really good reason why we shouldn't have gone into Iraq:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A40059-2003Dec5?language=printer

Hey Miuchele,
I was referring to this post of yours:
http://asmallvictory.net/archives/006344.html#006344

I guess I misread "being an asshole" as using the word "asshole."

Sorry.
However, I still wonder if Evil Otto's comments to me qualify under that definition.

And Michele...is Evil Otto allowed to use the word "asshole" when it's directed at someone who agrees with you?

Hey, if someone's an asshole, then they're an asshole.

Just asking. I really don't care what Otto calls me, but in light of an earlier remark you made about use of that word. You know, Defense Guy said something about me going into a "lefty rage," but if anyone is in a rage, it's Otto.

Not rage, Brad. Contempt. It's a different emotion.

Different standards for neocons, I guess.

Do you ALWAYS whine this much, Brad?

Otto, in case you didn't notice, I did refute your refutation of Maha. But in case you missed it, just go to my website. You'll find plenty of refutation there.

We're not going to play this game. The first damned words of your post were about "Bush administration dogma" (and you've just added "neocon"). That tells me you aren't serious about refuting anything.

I'm not going to go to your website. If you have a point, post it here, otherwise cram it. You say my post is dogma, well prove me wrong, right here, where everyone can read it and make their own arguments. I'm not going to do your work for you.

Brad says:And Michele...is Evil Otto allowed to use the word "asshole" when it's directed at someone who agrees with you? Just asking. I really don't care what Otto calls me, but in light of an earlier remark you made about use of that word. You know, Defense Guy said something about me going into a "lefty rage," but if anyone is in a rage, it's Otto. Different standards for neocons, I guess.

Actually, the word "asshole" gets directed at me quite often. I guess I just have thicker skin than you.

Otto, you are able to make very good arguments without resorting to name callingy.

As for different standards for neocons, well that would only hold true if I banned a leftie for the same thing I let a neocon do. And seeing as that I haven't banned anyone yet, or deleted any comments, you're assertion is wholly without merit.

Fine, I'll ask permission. Michele, is it OK if I call Brad an asshole? If not, can I call him a "fucktard?" ;-)

Both the original post and Joshua's comment are, well, just moving.

To expand on Sandy P's point, here's something dealing with OKC.

http://www.intelwire.com/padillaOKC011104.html

Though I don;t know how reliable this site is.

Oops, cross posted. Sorry.

You're right, Michele, I don't have to namecall. But I get tired of people like Brad. So very tired. After a while, I wonder if it's worth responding to him in any way. (I know, "probably not.")

Michele,

I found your post to be very thoughtful and touching.

It is very sad that some of the comments posted are lacking in simple respect.

Grace

I have to admit that I had stopped coming to your site, removed it from my blogroll. You are an excellent writer, creative writer, but lately I saw so many posts that were divisive in nature. The comments I saw were people who either completely agreed with you, damn the others or were the others damning you. There was nothing to gain from coming back except a rise in blood pressure.
Yet here I am...I was hoping I'd find something good even if it was just some baseball humor, but I found something better.
This is an excellent message, one that has been lost so quickly after we were so close as a nation. It is easy to blame Bush since he is on the top of the hill and he is clearly running a campaign that is no longer aimed at unity. But the democrats play the same game. Neither side WANTS us to unite. They ignore states that decidely vote one way and focus on smear campaigns in swing states.
It's depressing and your essay is nice reminder of the way things SHOULD be. Just becaue our politicians don't live life that way doesn't mean we shouldn't.

You know what I learned on 9/11? That when push comes to shove we are a very close nation bound not just by culture but ideals. I remember less than a week after the attack, I had to go to some school function where parents got to attend their kids classes at night. The function was set up as an abbrieviated school day, complete with home-room bell and so on.

Anyway I was signing myself up at a registration desk waiting for a lady to give me papers and directions about what class room I was to go to. Anyway, just as the principal did every morning he came on the PA system to recite the "Pledge of Allegiance".

The woman at the desk stopped for a moment, put down her papers and said, "I'm sorry, I have to listen to this." After the principal was done, she looked at me and said, "You know I've
heard it all my life, but I never really understood how much it meant to me until this week."

I understood. So did people standing behind me in line. Go read Andrew Sullivan's essay "Why Did It Have to Be Such a Beautiful Morning?". It's sometimes useful to look at ourselves from the perspective of our British cousins.


Very moving post Joshua.

You and I don't agree on bloody much, but that was an enlightening and gutsy post.

Joshua's got a pretty interesting blog which I've bookmarked for
reading later. He's a good writer.

I agree. Thank you for sharing that, Joshua.

OK Otto. Let's define our terms.

Dogma: "a principle or principles laid down by an authority and intended to be accepted without question" (Oxf Dict of Current English)

1.) You wrote:
"Much of AQ's leadership is dead and on the run"

George Bush, 2004 State of the Union Address:
"We're tracking al Qaeda around the world, and nearly two-thirds of their known leaders have now been captured or killed."
Source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/01/20040120-7.html

Is there proof of this? I haven't seen it.

2.) Your words: "Was he supporting terrorism and terrorist groups? Yes"

George Bush, Oct 5 2002:
"Iraq has longstanding ties to terrorist groups, which are capable of and willing to deliver weapons of mass death."

Proof of this?
It's all so much dogma.

You write: "Rogue nations are where terrorists train. They help fund terrorist groups. They provide weapons. They provide safe ground for terrorists to hide."

Iraq was not a haven for terrorists before we invaded. Saddam and al Qaeda did not have a cooperative relationship! Did you not see this NY Times article from January 14:
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F7091EF838540C778DDDA80894DC404482

It became a terrorist haven after the fact--the instability and lack of security created it.

Did Iraq have to be dealt with eventually? Yes-- but there were other ways of dealing with it than going to war. David Kay's report proved that the UN inspections worked--that Saddam was a toothless dictator. We should not be sending our troops into battle unless our national security is at risk. Al Qaeda is still the danger-- Madrid proved that they have reconstituted.
It looks like they were attempting to blow up something in London too.

Obviously you are unwilling to acknowledge any world view that does not agree with your own.
The fact that I read contrarian websites at least proves that I seek out other points of view. But you said yourself that you aren't interested in coming to my turf.
When's the last time you read a Lefty blog?

So I'm an asshole. You're a scumbag and an ignormamous. And you have aligned yourself with an ignorant bunch of Right Wingers who think the solution to every problem is to shoot it.

that's one of the reasons I enjoy arguing with Joshua.

'K. In an effort to stay on topic I just read your post and came straight here, instead of reading the 50 comments along the way.

Wonderful post, Michele. 9/11 set loose a hailstrom of strange emotions that it's taking some time to unpack and come to terms with. I was pretty liberal to, until that day. And it's not that I've abandoned all of the ideas I had, I've just got hit with the reality that the world is a big bad place. Not all of it, not nearly, but what is bad is baaaad and it would behoove me, in the interest of my own survival, to recognize that and make a decision to utilize what I learned growing up: right and wrong, good and evil, and eschew the moral relativism that I didn't even know I had already subscribed to for years.

It's hard for people who have known nothing but comfort all their lives to recognize that while they and their environment might be peaceful, might value and consciously engineer peace, the entire world is not that way. A lot of the people I knew in college really believed that the Age of Aquarius was 'right around the corner' and it's hard for them to come to terms with how much all of that is pure horsecrap. They'd rather scapegoat Bush for 'making war' than come to terms that their premises were shit to begin with.

The world has always been and always will be full of bad people who can't fathom the possibility of freedom or civil disagreement or personal potential or responsibility and will seek to destroy everything we have created, good and bad. They are driven by the politics of hate and envy. They only understand submission or subjugation and wish nothing more than to turn the entire world into an 11-century Islamic Sharia-ridden hell. This is truth according to their own words.

I don't know what drives the others on the left side of the divide, for there really is such a clear division now. I've been alarmed by the deep hatred I see on the there. It's always healthy to question, to differ, but to hate? Hate your culture? Hate your countrymen? Hate where you come from? I agree with your assessment that we are all trying desperately to feel like we're not alone while we pound our stakes into the ground to cover up the feeling of helplessness we have. But I still don't get the self-hate. The only explanation I can offer about that is they feel guilty for what they have and don't feel they deserve what they were born into. The politics of guilt can't effectively deal with the politics of envy. We've already seen that.

I guess all in all, the blogging is a way to hide the helplessness I feel about how to keep what's good in this world from going to hell on a camel. But then again, maybe it will make a difference.

Here's hoping. Thanks.

You know, Brad, I read a lot of blogs and have been for over 2 years now. I don't have the habit of saving interesting things to my drive. But I swear I read that wayyyy back in 1992, the NYT put AQ/Iraq together.

John, until the 60s boomers are senile or dead or learn to take "no" for an answer, there will be no "unity."

On the other hand, it's good to remember history, about 1/3 pro-America, 1/3 pro-royalist, 1/3 - leave me alone and let me be, I don't care who wins.

The more things change.....

That was a touching post, Joshua. Thanks for taking the time to make it, amid all the shouting.

You're right Sandy, history does teach. The pre-WWII "America First" movement argued forcefully against American intervention in what they argued was another European war .

Then Pearl Harbor was attacked. Japan allied with the Axis. So they closed up shop, took down the signs, and stood down. Ignoring tyranny was no longer an option.

Michele, I have to aplogize to you for wasting your bandwidth like this, but I'm going to go through Brad's post. Seeing what he wrote, it'll probably be the last time I bother with him. If I feel the need to use the word "asshole," I'll substitute "snickerdoodle." As way of payment, I'll hit your tip jar. Not that I'm trying to buy your support or anything.

(Unless that would work...)

OK Otto. Let's define our terms.

This is going to fun...

Dogma: "a principle or principles laid down by an authority and intended to be accepted without question" (Oxf Dict of Current English)

Y'know, I'm always impressed when someone quotes the dictionary at the start of a post. Brad, old buddy, can we just accept that I actually KNOW what the word "dogma" means? (rolling eyes)

1.) You wrote: "Much of AQ's leadership is dead and on the run"

George Bush, 2004 State of the Union Address:
"We're tracking al Qaeda around the world, and nearly two-thirds of their known leaders have now been captured or killed."
Source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/01/20040120-7.html

Is there proof of this? I haven't seen it.

OK, here's a link for you.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,79986,00.html

(And I swear, if you make some crack about "Faux News," or anything of the sort, I'm going to my roof with a rifle.)

Now, do you see that word "much" that I used? It's important. The link I provided shows that roughly 40% of the figures listed have been captured or killed. I, however did not use "most." So I was correct. Much of al Qaeda has been nailed.

(sigh) You're assuming something, Brad, and your entire argument seems to rest on it. You're assuming that if I say something similar to something that Bush says, it MUST be because I'm "accepting without question" what he says.

2.) Your words: "Was he supporting terrorism and terrorist groups? Yes" George Bush, Oct 5 2002:
"Iraq has longstanding ties to terrorist groups, which are capable of and willing to deliver weapons of mass death."

Stop. Is this how you debate, Brad? DO YOU SEE THE WORDS "WEAPONS OF MASS DEATH" IN MY POST?

I said "supporting terrorists and terrorist groups." I said nothing about WMDs in that point, and you know it.

http://cfrterrorism.org/sponsors/iraq.html

Check. Support of terrorist and terror groups.

You're 0/2, Brad. Let's see what you've got next.

Proof of this? It's all so much dogma.

As you can see, each of your points have been refuted. More to the point, you have taken what I originally wrote, found different statements by Dubya which were different that what I said, and attempted to link them together. (rolling up newspaper) Bad Brad. (whap) Bad.

You write: "Rogue nations are where terrorists train. They help fund terrorist groups. They provide weapons. They provide safe ground for terrorists to hide."

See that (s) on the end of nations. It means plural. I wasn't just talking about Iraq. Rogue nations also means Iran, Syria, and any others you'd care to mention. This was in response to Maha's point that we were "still focusing on rogue nations instead of stateless terrorist organizations." Still, let's see where you're going with this...

Iraq was not a haven for terrorists before we invaded.

Wrong. http://cfrterrorism.org/sponsors/iraq.html#Q4
http://www.terrorismfiles.org/countries/iraq.html

Y'know, if you're going to try to counter what I'm saying, it'd be nice if you 1) actually knew what you were talking about, and 2) tried to answer my WHOLE point, not just the bit you think you can refute.

Saddam and al Qaeda did not have a cooperative relationship! Did you not see this NY Times article from January 14: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F7091EF838540C778DDDA80894DC404482

And did YOU not see the other evidence to the contrary?

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/003/378fmxyz.asp

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1090736/posts

Now, since you said they didn't have a cooperative relationship, exactly how do you know this? Do you have some contacts inside al Qaeda and/or the Hussein regime who informed you of this?

The fact is, you don't know for sure. Neither do I. We can read different articles saying they did or they didn't cooperate (and "cooperate" is such a vague term it could mean whatever each of us wants it to mean), but neither of us knows for sure.

Now, I feel I have to AGAIN remind you of what I ACTUALLY SAID. I said rogue states support terrorism. In that sentence I did not mention al Qaeda at all. There are other terrorist groups out there, Brad.

It became a terrorist haven after the fact--the instability and lack of security created it.

Already disproven. Next.

Did Iraq have to be dealt with eventually? Yes-- but there were other ways of dealing with it than going to war.

...like?

David Kay's report proved that the UN inspections worked--that Saddam was a toothless dictator.

Umm, you do realize that David Kay was only appointed after Hussein was gone and the country was fully opened to inspectors, right?

The fact is, we didn't know whether ispections had previously worked or not, because Hussein wasn't cooperating. Even Hans Blix noted this in January 2003.

In any case, as I have already noted in my response to Maha, Hussein was only giving that limited cooperation because he was facing an invasion-level military force on his border. Prior to that, for four years, there were no inspections. None. Zip. So the inspections you claim were working didn't exist for a substantial length of time, and in any case were only sustained through an incredibly expensive military buildup which could not be sustained in the long term.

We should not be sending our troops into battle unless our national security is at risk.

Except that we do it all the time. There are US troops stationed all around the world, often under fire. It never seems to bother people like you that troops are still in Yugoslavia, for example, where there is no national security threat.

Al Qaeda is still the danger-- Madrid proved that they have reconstituted. It looks like they were attempting to blow up something in London too.

Al Qaeda is A danger. There are many others. In any case, as I have shown in my link above, AQ is a damaged organization. Does this mean they're finished? Hell no. The thing is, as I have already written, there are dozens of other terrorist groups out there. They splinter, shift, and morph all the time. New ones are created, old ones die off. If you think that once AQ is done the war is over you're going to be very disappointed when the next attack comes.

Obviously you are unwilling to acknowledge any world view that does not agree with your own.

This from the person who just wasted his time trying to prove that my posts were "dogmatic." You're projecting, Brad. I say that YOU are the one who can't stand that anyone might disagree. I mean, there's no possibility that I might know what I'm talking about, eh, Brad? If I believe that the Iraq War was justified, it must be because I'm regurgitating Bush's talking points.

The fact that I read contrarian websites at least proves that I seek out other points of view. But you said yourself that you aren't interested in coming to my turf.

Ah, and now you're going to tell me what I do and do not read. ARE YOU SPYING ON ME, BRAD? You must be downloading my Internet Explorer History file to know that... OK, if you did, you might see the "contrarian" websites that I do visit.

The fact that I didn't want to bother reading whatever-the-hell-site you posted has more to do with you and your piss-poor debate skills than anything else. Like I said, I'm not going to do your work for you. If you want to argue, argue. If not...

When's the last time you read a Lefty blog?

Hmm... that would be... TODAY, Brad.

So I'm an asshole.

Do you have Michele's permission to call yourself that?

You're a scumbag and an ignormamous.

You praise me with faint damns. Brad, your feeble insults are like a fine wine to me. I revel in them. Hurt me more, bad boy!

And you have aligned yourself with an ignorant bunch of Right Wingers who think the solution to every problem is to shoot it.

"Ignorant bunch of Right Wingers." That'd be the rest of you good folks reading this, most of whom have never said so much as a negative thing about Brad.

Now let me explain things to you, Brad: if you want to win an argument, you must counter what your opponent ACTUALLY SAID. Not put words in his mouth. Not compare apple-and-orange quotes. And most importantly, you must refute the WHOLE argument, not just the couple of points you think you can counter.

Now, I've paid enough attention to you. Buh-bye.

That was incredibly moving Michele. I've wondered the same thing quite a few times since.

God, am I a glutton. There's no winning an argument when the only guy keeping score is you. And Otto, you obviously have more time to pick fights than Sean Hannity's masseuse, and feeds on the attention. I should know better.

Well, the CFR site is much better source than the Weekly Standard and freerepublic. But one thing you neglected to mention from the CFR site though, is this point: "A secular dictator, Saddam tended to support secular terrorist groups rather than Islamists such as al-Qaeda, experts say"
Secular terrorists did not perpetrate Sept 11.
Saddam's dead now anyway--he was dead before we invaded. You seem to think AQ is not the biggest menace out there. In this one instance I really, really hope you're right, but all the real experts on this topic (Daniel Benjamin, Juan Cole, even Hitchens) would disagree.
No, you don't know what you're talking about.
I'm right. You're wrong. Just because. Time to go to bed now, son.

Al Qaeda is still the danger Madrid proved that they have reconstituted.--

I thought they hired amateurs to do the work? And I thought the plans were being developed before 9/11??? So, "reconstituted" might not exactly be the word we're looking for.

From John @ Iberian Notes - but he did think ETA was initially behind it.

..."Several of the bombers' conspirators are lowlifes involved in small-time drug and weapon trafficking, or small-time phone scammers--making it even less likely this was a professional job....

Evil Otto

(And I swear, if you make some crack about "Faux News," or anything of the sort, I'm going to my roof with a rifle.)

You owe me a keyboard!!

When you come up here, bring some coffee will you?

Joshua, if you're ever in the DFW area, I'll buy you a beer. Or beverage of choice.

Can't speak for anyone else here, but for me... 9/11 didn't really change a lot of my views, it only intensified them. I've been anti-government, anti-leftist, pro-libertarian, and anti-statist since I was 19 or so. The only real thing that changed is that since 9/11, I've come to see even more than I did before that conservatives and libertarians have a common enemy, and it's what we call the "far liberal left". That's not a real revelation to me, that's been my view of the Left since 1980 - '81 when Guzman's Sendero Luminoso showed me in graphic bloody detail just what the left leads to. I could say that a lot of other people came to my views - mine haven't changed.

I am saddened that that seems to put me on the opposite side of a gulf often from people like you. I wish that gulf could be bridged... but I fear it won't be as long as the Democrat party stands for things I detest, and against things I'm for. shrug I am not your enemy. I hope that you don't have to be mine.

Since OTTO isn't going to say it any more: Brad, you're an asshole. ;}

I would have liked to be on the same side as everyone else, on September 12, 2001. And in most respects I was. I agreed with most of what people were saying that day. But I'd learned the hard way to be actively hostile to groupthink. To try to come to my own conclusions.

After 9/11 I became obsessed with trying to understand what was going on in middle eastern society and politics. I wanted to have a real feel for what was going on, so I spent hours a day reading everything I could find from the middle east.

I wasn't interested in predigested opinions from experts. I trust myself enough to want to come to my own opinions... So I read every translation from Arabic I could find - of current things. Newspapers, political speeches, textbooks, sermons, literary authors - those things. Oh and a little recent news.

Everything I read, from day one was unbelievably disturbing.

It would take hours to describe it, but exactly what I found isn't the point I want to make.

The point I want to make is that I came to my own conclusions about what was happening and where we were headed before the Bush administration started talking about Iraq.

And when I heard that we were thinking of deposing Saddam, I sighed a huge sigh of relief. Before that I thought we were basically doomed. The US would become a target for terrorist attacks with WMDs some time in the next 75 years. The middle eastern countries would cheer and help all they could - and the United States of America would be ruined.

I looked into the thinking behind the policy that the neocons were pushing.... And it didn't match the Bush administration's rhetoric completely - it was much more ambitious.

Once again I sighed with relief. The policy was deeper and much more far reaching than one that could be sold the UN. I figured we had a chance to avoid the looming disaster.

...

Now I'm getting to the point I set up here. My reason for supporting the war in Iraq has nothing to do with groupthink and it has nothing to do with support for the right (I'm a Nader voting lefty - or was).

The Bush administration's plan for Iraq isn't nearly as shallow as what was presented to the world. This has nothing to do with groupthink or shallow thinking at all.

The media has always been shallow. The public's reasons for supporting or rejecting policies is often shallow - that's irrelevent to me. The policy stands on it's merits.

As for the shallowness, that's completely unavoidable. If Bush had said at the outset, we're setting out to destabilize and remake middle eastern society -then the war could not have been fought. Not only would there have been no chance at UN support - it would have been taken as an open declaration of war by the entire middle east. It would have been a complete disaster.

So all the talk on the left that Bush is changing his goals or was dishonest is insane. He could have accomplished nothing if he had done a single thing differently.

As for the shallowness of the public's response...

Emotionally, humans (who haven't been too badly oppressed) naturally follow a strategy that game theorists call "tit for tat".

In short, if someone cooperates with you, then you cooperate back. If someone tries to gain advantage by hurting you, then you stop cooperating and protect yourself, and become hostile (at least temporarily).

The interesting thing is that our instincts have chosen the optimal strategy for a great many situations. Game theorists have shown this sort of strategy to be the best one possible in many situations.

So, even if the average person isn't so smart, our instincts aren't dumb. Actually our instincts are often much more optimal than the ideologies we're taught in college. Group think is sometimes wrong, but not always.

By the way, someone said we choose Iraq as a target because they were the most threatening...

No actually, we choose Iraq partially because they were the easiest target. Iraq was weakened. They didn't have nukes yet. There was even a pretext in the UN waiting to be used.

We had a way in, and once in we had a permanent base for further operations.

Strategy isn't evil, it's a necessity.

That's pretty much what I thought you were going to say, Brad. You're just not good at backing up your ideas with, y'know, actual facts, so all you're left with is, well, what you wrote.

Thanks for playing, and we have some lovely parting gifts for you.

Otto, you're by far the most immature blogger I've ever met.

Uhm Brad, you made three mistakes in one sentence:
1. Your previous post has to be the most immature thing I've ever read on this blog. This is too much dramatic irony for one sentence, Dude!
2. All of Otto's criticism about your ability to argue is 100% deserved. Can telling you the truth make immature and correct?
3. The term "blogger" refers to the person who posts on the main web log page, not the people who leave comments.

Score one for irony on me... it should read:
"Can telling you the truth both make you immature and correct?"

I think you meant, "Can telling you the truth both make him immature and correct?"

Otto, you're by far the most immature blogger I've ever met.

I'm not a blogger. I'm just someone wasting far too much of Michele's bandwidth replying to you. SHE is a blogger.

Of course, I'm having fun batting you around, which I guess is pretty immature of me. So I guess you're partly right. You just provide such good, whiny material, Brad!

You are soooo immature EO.

The other Joshua (reminds me of "the other other white meat"):

Nah, "you" is (sorta) correct in a conversational voice, you know?

Are you going to translate "This is too much dramatic irony for one sentence, Dude!" into "This one sentence is a prime example of dramatic irony, my good man."

I wasn't trying to correct your tone. It's just you had "and" in italics, suggesting that "and" was the part you'd added in your correction. But what you actually added was "you". So I started to write, "I think you mean...", but then I noticed that would result in a repetition of "you", so I corrected it to "him", in much the same way I let my spellechecker correct other people's errors when I'm quoting them.

Of course, the irony here is that I was actually poking fun at you for using the, "the term blogger actually means..." argument against Brad. Back in my BBS days we used to call that the, "you misspelled 'stupid asshole'" attack.

Other:

You know I actually addressed a post to you.