What bokononists whisper whenever they think of how complicated and unpredictable the machinery of life really is.


By Elton Beard

There are two kinds of people in the world, those who divide people into two kinds and those who don't. I don't.


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ARCHIVE ARCHIVE ARCHIVE

Saturday, July 17, 2004
11:00 PM PT

John Negroponte explains it all for Allawi.

Ambassador John Negroponte
The prime minister of sovereign Iraq was apparently under the misapprehension that that he was the prime minister of a sovereign country when he decided to offer amnesty to Iraqi insurgents in the interest of reconciliation. Worse, in not excluding from his offer insurgents who had attacked Americans, he was behaving as if an Iraqi life was worth no more and no less than an American life. But the American ambassador, a certain John Negroponte, soon disabused him of such notions. From the LA Times:

On one point, Ambassador Negroponte was clear: The United States would oppose any effort by the Iraqi interim government to grant amnesty to insurgents who participated in attacks on Americans. Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has said that the government is working on a broad amnesty proposal aimed at those who participated in the insurgency.

"I would take exception to that," he said when asked how he would respond if the amnesty extended to those who had attacked or killed Americans.

The ambassador did not specify whether the exception he had in mind would take the form of a frank diplomatic note or something more severe. Still, the prime minister of sovereign Iraq got the hint and amnesty will now be offered to Iraqis who sought to harm other Iraqis, but not to Iraqis who attacked soldiers of the army that invaded and occupied their country.

The NY Times' version of the story is most notable for being placed under the headline "U.S. Diplomat Starts New Job by Deferring to Iraq Rulers":

[Ambassador Negroponte] gave a nod to an Iraqi government proposal to offer amnesty to some insurgents who put down their weapons, but said amnesty would not apply to those who had killed American or allied troops.
I think the NY Times is trying to say that Mr. Negroponte practices self-deference.

10:00 PM PT

Shorter David Brooks:
Values, Values Everywhere
  • It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich Democrat to speak sincerely about values.
See Also: more on Brooks' value system at Upper Left, Pro-War.com and Eschaton.

Thursday, July 15, 2004
10:00 PM PT

Shorter Max Boot:
In Modern Imperialism, U.S. Needs to Walk Softly
  • The wise Emperor rules his conquests through puppet regimes as outright occupation tends to alienate the local population.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004
4:00 PM PT

Shorter William Safire:
The New Groupthink
  • The Senate Intelligence Committee report clears the Bush White House of the charge that it tortured the CIA into confessing that Saddam Hussein lisps and wears strange suits.

No, really:

The 511-page Senate report concluded this: Nobody in the White House or the Pentagon pressured the C.I.A. to change an intelligence analysis to conform to the judgment that the world would be a safer place with the monstrous Saddam overthrown.

The rest of the column is somewhat less coherent.

Plus, a flashback: "terrorists may have a mole in the White House". No, really. He's been like this for a while now.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004
7:00 PM PT

Bush Logic.

Mr. Bush yesterday repeated his oft-repeated alibi for being in possession of a country not his own:

In 2002, the United Nations Security Council yet again demanded a full accounting of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs. As he had for over a decade, Saddam Hussein refused to comply. ... So I had a choice to make: Either take the word of a madman, or defend America. Given that choice, I will defend America every time. (Applause.)
Let's see how many errors of logic and fact we can find in that one brief statement.
  1. Logic check. When Mr. Bush says that one of his choices was to take the word of a "madman", he necessarily implies that said madman had in fact given his word (regarding compliance). But this is in direct contradiction to Mr. Bush's prior assertion that Mr. Hussein refused to comply.

  2. Fact check. Saddam Hussein had in fact asserted his compliance with resolution 1441 and had backed his word by submitting 12,000 pages of documentation to the U.N. and allowing weapons inspectors unfettered access to his country. When Mr. Bush says that Mr. Hussein refused to comply with the U.N. demands of 2002, he is not telling the truth.

  3. Logic check. When Mr. Bush says that he had to choose between taking the word of a madman or defending America, he is indulging in a false dichotomy. These are not mutually exclusive options. Even President Reagan understood the concept of "trust but verify".

  4. Legitimate diagnosis or plain rudeness? Finally, about this odd business of calling Saddam Hussein a madman - is this a clinical diagnosis or a schoolyard epithet of the sort favored by Charles Krauthammer? Mr. Bush clearly means the former - his whole argument hinges on "madman" meaning "delusional person". And if he can document that assertion then he properly belongs in a witness stand assisting Mr. Hussein with an insanity defense. But if the "madman" label' is just an ad hominem - and absent supporting evidence, that's all it is - then this alone puts the lie to Mr. Bush's entire argument.
Two elementary logic flaws, a falsehood and a childish insult doubling as a deceptive prop to a false argument, all in a single paragraph. Slick.

For completeness here is the part replaced by ellipses in the quote above:

... In fact, according to former weapons inspector David Kay, Iraq's weapons programs were elaborately shielded by security and deception operations that continued even beyond the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom ...
Which is, of course, a glaring red herring.

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Busy, busy, busy.

What bokononists whisper whenever they think of how complicated and unpredictable the machinery of life really is.


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