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March 25, 2004

Good targets

Now for something really shocking-- an optimistic post about politics! Even better, a whole category for posts suggesting that W might just be following in his daddy's single-term footsteps.

Whence the name? Rummy, of course. One of Richard Clarke's great revelations was that Rumsfeld, in the days after 9/11, argued for attacking Iraq instead of Afghanistan, saying "there aren't any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq." The foreign press have had a lot of fun with that one. (France, presumably, has a lot of good target, too--luckily, this was before they were pissed off at the French.)

Anyway, Clarke's testimony felt like a real "have you no sense of decency?" moment, when the immediacy of televised hearings actually broke through the clutter and made certain things clear. I do not believe the administration can survive by spinning this away, or by asassinating Clarke's character. His apology to the American people felt like a dam breaking with the force needed to wash away all the blame-gaming and cover-ups we're endured since Bush won, er, was inaugurated.

So I hereby declare open season on the Good Targets in the Bush Administration. If you notice sleazy spin, disinformation, or Big Lies, put 'em here. We'll all feel better, and raising everyone's awareness about just how dishonest they are will only help us convince people how important it is to get W & Co. out of office in November.

Posted by jay at March 25, 2004 04:25 PM | TrackBack
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Comments

... Clarke's testimony felt like a real "have you no sense of decency?" moment ...

Does Clarke have any sense of decency? Check out these analyses of his testimony and tell me if you still hold him in high regard:

Sept. 11, Lies and 'Mistakes'

Phony Apology

Very Awkward Facts

Posted by: Michael on April 7, 2004 01:22 PM

Uh, actually, yeah, I still hold him in tremendous regard... if you read this site more often, you'd realize that none of us are likely to be swayed by a couple of Krauthammer fatwas or more ranting from Laurie Mylroie.

Whereas Clarke was on point on terrorism in four presidential administrations, Krauthammer has a resume distinguished only by being moderately less idiotic than his neocon pundit colleagues (but still pretty idiotic).

I take that back--Krauthammer's resume is more impressive than the average pundit-- he is also a shrink. He should actually answer Mylroie's repeated calls for serious professional help. Mylroie is, of course, the chief fantasist behind the "Saddam connection" to 9/11, an obsession that has earned her the soubriquet "The right's favorite conspiracy theorist." She's almost as good as President Bush at never letting the facts get in the way of her preconceived notions. She made a career out of continuing the dangerous myth that state-sponsored terrorism is the real threat. Would that it were so, my friend. Terrorists are popping up all over, a harvest accelerated by Bush's terribly misguided foreign policy unilateralism, and doing plenty of damage without state sponsorship.

So to sum up, if you want to bring us some actual facts--or even opinions of your own-- not just dispatches from Republican Wonderland, please feel free. But if I wanted Bush's talking points, I'd watch Fox News. Which I don't. So don't just blindly link to them here.

Posted by: jay on April 7, 2004 03:40 PM

Uh, actually, yeah, I still hold him in tremendous regard... if you read this site more often, you'd realize that none of us are likely to be swayed by a couple of Krauthammer fatwas or more ranting from Laurie Mylroie.

Four paragraphs exemplifying the ad hominem fallacy, and not a word of substantive rebuttal. Krauthammer and Mylroie may be mistaken in their logic and their facts, but you don't make your case by shrieking and pointing at the bylines.

Pretend the articles were written by "A" and "B" and try again.

[Mylroie] made a career out of continuing the dangerous myth that state-sponsored terrorism is the real threat.

Why did Saddam give sanctuary and a stipend to 1993 World Trade Center bomber Abdul Rahman Yasin? Why did the Iraqi government permit "Al Qaeda affiliates" operating out of Baghdad to assassinate US diplomat Laurence Foley in Jordan?

Even Clarke argued that state-sponsored terrorism (Afghanistan/al Qaeda) was our gravest national security threat.

(What were you saying about "not letting the facts get in the way of preconceived notions"?)

Posted by: Michael on April 8, 2004 06:38 AM

You and Laurie Milroie need to understand that the fact that deadly terrorists have been sponsored in the past by states does not mean that all terrorists in the future must be in order to be a danger. That would be the "post hoc ergo propter hoc" fallacy, if we are going to turn this into a lesson in rhetoric. But the world has changed since Aristotle's time, and since Bush I's.

As for the ah hominem fallacy, I think professional windbags (on the left as well as right) may be a special case. You cited three headlines in your comment, presenting them as fact-based refutations of Clarke's testimony, when in fact they were rehashes of well-known opinions by people at a far greater remove from the actual facts than Clarke, with none of his bipartisan credentials. You can call it ad hominem, but I was calling attention to the provenance of those you were holding up as authoritative sources. I'll avoid ad hominem attacks on people who don't sound quite so much like a broken record. Krauthammer is a good writer, and I read him from '87 until sometime in the Clinton administration when I realized my time is valuable... why read him when you know from the headline exactly what he is going to say?

"State sponsorship" (of the kind Mylroie obsesses about) requires an active, potent state. Afghanistan circa 2001 under the Taliban was hardly a true state beyond Kabul and a few other urban areas. At that time (as now, with the US military trying to shove the militant Shi'aa genie back in the bottle in Iraq and totally distracted from Afghanistan) tribal leaders and warlords held most of "Afghan" territory, with the Taliban facing active resistance from many of them and the Northern Alliance. Afghanistan was very close (after years of Soviet domination and civil war) quite nearly a failed state. Comparing the actual aid given to al Qaeda by the Taliban with the kind of active, well-funded, and lethal support the Bush administration told us repeatedly Iraq was providing al Qaeda is, I hope you'll agree, a bit of a stretch.

Clearly, if we really want to look at state sponsorship of al Qaeda, we should look at Saudi Arabia... which of course we'll never do with a Bush in the White House. Can we at least agree on that point?

Posted by: jay on April 8, 2004 06:00 PM

And to add to Jay's argument here, keep in mind that although Krauthammer also said:
"Terrorists cannot operate without the succor and protection of governments," he wrote, "The planet is divided into countries. Unless terrorists want to camp in Antarctica, they must live in sovereign states."

The 9/11 terrorists lived and worked in the US and Western Europe, countries we can't rightly bomb the bejesus out of for allowing terrorists to live and work within their borders. And we've actually got a system for tracking immigrants to this country! Afghanistan's complete disarray is certainly in much less condition to monitor the activities of everyone running around there with nasty intentions.

I wish I'd thought of that argument myself, but at last we have Slate to remind us where the good targets are.

Posted by: paulette on April 13, 2004 04:20 PM

To (perhaps) end this thread, I just wanted to point out that Michael Pollard's" Scrutineer blog doesn't appear to allow comments (which may explain his fascination with posting comments here). In other words, he gets to post whatever he wants without discourse. (Something about "master of his own domain" occurs to me, but I was never a big Seinfield fan.) Sounds rather like a certain President we know...

Posted by: jay on April 14, 2004 02:06 PM
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