March 29, 2004

Dr. Norman Borlaug

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was taking a drive in the Villainmobile last week and heard this wonderful interview on NPR with Dr. Norman Borlaug. Over the weekend, in a telephone conversation with the Minister of Agriculture, your Maximum Leader discussed the interview and the original "Green Revolution" but could not remember the Dr's name. He had a few moments to do some internet searching and here are some interesting links.

NPR : Father of 'Green Revolution' Derides Organic Movement (Audio Link for those of you with lots of bandwidth.)

The Norman Borlaug Foundation

The Nobel Peace Prize Winners

The Atlantic Magazine: Forgotten Benefactor of Humanity.

Techcentral Station: The Man who defused the "Bomb"

Happy Belated Birthday Dr. Borlaug!

Carry on.


Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader spent most of Saturday in an AOL chat room with many of his longtime friends completing an auction for our fantasy baseball league. Your Maximum Leader, busy making plans for world domination, did not adequetely prepare. Of course, if he had visited Annika's site and read her secret player ranking post, perhaps he could have plyed her with gifts and tokens of platonic affection to get some help. As it stands, your Maximum Leader is not sure he is going to do well this year.

Regardless, read her post and realize why your Maximum Leader will make Annika Commissioner of Baseball in the MWO.

Carry on.

March 28, 2004

Time Machine.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been thinking quite a bit about current events lately and decided he had just had enough. So, today he will take you on a little trip through time to a different time and place…
United States Senate Hearing Room
March 24, 1943
Testimony before the December 7th Commission.

Senator Barkley: So, Mr. Smith do I understand your previous testimony correctly? You claim that on numerous occasions you had face-to-face meetings with Secretary [of War] Stimson and the [Army] Chief of Staff [George Marshall], and during those meetings you tried to tell them that the Imperial Japanese Navy was planning a major attack on the United States?

Mr. Smith: Yes Senator Barkley. During the first six months of President Roosevelt’s third term, I met frequently with Secretary of War Henry Stimson, Army Chief of Staff George Marshall, Secretary of State [Cordell] Hull, and Secretary of the Navy [Frank] Knox. During that time I tried to impress upon them the urgency of addressing the impending problem posed to our nation by the Japanese. But they were more focused on other matters.

Senator Glass: Mr. Smith, what could be more important than an impending attack on the United States?

Mr. Smith: Well, Senator the world is a complicated place. In my capacity it was incumbent upon me to keep my eyes on as many different threats to the country as I could. It was my opinion at the time that the major threat to our nation was being relegated to a secondary position by the President and his immediate advisors.

Senator Glass: What threat held the primary attention of the President and his advisors during this period? In your opinion Mr. Smith…

Mr. Smith: Senator, whenever I would give briefings on the cryptographic intercepts to the President’s advisors concerning the nature of the Japanese threat; they would always listen attentively, many took notes in fact, and would wait for me to finish. After my prepared briefing remarks about the Japanese were concluded, I would, inevitably, be asked, “Well Rich, what can you tell me about the Nazis?” It struck me as odd that they should be so focused on the German threat, but not interested in the threat from Japan.

Senator Russell: Mr. Smith, I seem to recall from your previous testimony that on one occasion you elicited a reaction of complete surprise from Secretary Stimson after a briefing? Could you tell us more about that please?

Mr. Smith: Of course Senator. As I recall it was late September, 1941, and I had just given Secretaries Stimson and Knox a briefing on the overall security situation in the Pacific basin. Towards the end of the meeting I said to Secretary Stimson that it was my opinion that that we ought to warn the various ship commanders in the Pacific Fleet, or at least Admiral Kimmel, that an attack on the fleet or the territories of the United States by the Japanese was imminent. I recall Secretary Stimson looking at me as if I was speaking in tounges. It was as though he had never heard of Japan…

Senator Vandenberg: So, Mr. Smith you are saying that in your capacity as Undersecretary of War for Security Affairs you had decoded secret cryptographic intercepts from the Imperial Japanese Navy that specifically indicated that they would attack the US Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941?

Mr. Smith: Well nothing that specific Senator Vandenberg. We had noticed a significant increase in the traffic of coded communications between Tokyo and their overseas missions. Additionally, there was a lot of chatter between Japan’s Naval Headquarters and their various battle fleets. But cryptographic information is a very difficult source to work with Senator. You only have little snippets of information that you have to analyze and try to understand.

Senator Vandenberg: So really you are saying that you didn’t know that Pearl Harbor was going to be attacked?

Mr. Smith: I didn’t know specifically at the time. But if we could have put together the information gathered by the Navy and the Department of State; and if Director Hoover would have let us know about Japanese agents photographing Pearl Harbor, we might have been able to prevent the attack.

Senator Taft: So, Mr. Smith you are saying that we had many pieces of information that in hindsight point towards an attack. But at the time it was impossible to tell what the Japanese were up to?

Mr. Smith: What I am saying Senator is that the American People need to know that their government failed them. Their President and his advisors failed them. I failed them. If they had listened to me, December 7th could have been averted.
Well loyal minions… Perhaps a voyage through the time machine wasn’t such a good idea.

Carry on.

Minion Mailbag

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader received a pleasant e-mail this morning from a minion who was, until this point, unknown to him. Don Hagen writes:

I absolutely loved your web site and would like to suggest you mention a new funny political test in’s blog.

The new link's Title is:

A Satirical Political Beliefs Assessment Test
Your Maximum Leader reponds: Your wish is hereby commanded by your Maximum Leader. It is a rather pithy little quiz. More something to be read than to be taken. It amused your Maximum Leader, and so he commends it to you.

Of course, the Hobbesian side of your Maximum Leader tells him that really the message was just a sly ploy to increase Mr. Hagen's website traffic, and that your Maximum Leader shouldn't allow himself to be swayed by flattery. But, since it is Sunday and your Maximum Leader is feeling charitable this morning... He'll let it slide this once.

Carry on.

March 27, 2004

Water balloons popping in space

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader asks, "Did you ever wonder what it would be like to see a water balloon pop in space?" Check it out if you have QuickTime or an MPEG player and a high speed line. Very cool.

Carry on.

March 26, 2004

Fresh from the Villainschloss

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader finally opens the doors of the great tower of the Villainschloss and peers down into the rest of the world...

My what an active little blog your Maximum Leader now has! Lucky for him, and his loyal readers, that his Ministerial apostles are so prolific. In a brief review of many blogs, he can honestly say that he doesn't find too many blogs with the range of opinion that one is likely to find on (Is it proper to link to one's own blog? Hummm...)

Well, as much as your Maximum Leader likes his own URL, it seems that some of his readers might be too lazy to try and find his new location. Either that or his daily readership has just dropped. According to his hosting company, he is getting about 41 unique visitors a day. Which is down from the 70-odd unique visitors a day he got on blogspot. Hummm...

Regardless. He hopes the spirited debate grows his readership.

As for civility in this space. While name-calling is fun from time to time, it generally doesn't advance one's argument.

Your Maximum Leader was giving some careful thought and review to many of the Iraq points made in this space by his ministers. While his overall opinion has not changed (namely that the war is not a distraction from the war on terror, and is justified), he can see how other intelligent people (like the Minister of Propaganda) come to a different conclusion. Your Maximum Leader does believe that many people who did not want to go to war in Iraq think that overall the war on terror should be conducted in a more legalistic, police-investigation, crime-fighting mode. (Your Maximum Leader doesn't want to lump the Minister of Propaganda in this boat, he is speaking very broadly.) And your Maximum Leader believes that mindset is fatally flawed and will never bear fruit. Simply because it will never successfully address the root causes of terror.

And your Maximum Leader wants to doff his (bejeweled) floppy hat to loyal minion Carpemundi for recommending to him this very fun site. Nothing like blasting people with a giant magifying glass to make your day.

Alas, your Maximum Leader grows tired, and thinks he will retire to the loving arms of Mrs. Villain.

Carry on.

March 25, 2004

Ho. Ho. Ho.

Lileks Bleat has me chuckling.


...the Sam’s Club card, which I’m sure has an interest rate that would make Ayn Rand scream for a usury law...

Of course, this is why I have to be friends with Mike, Greg, and Rob. No one else gets my sense of humor. My wife just rolls her eyes at me.

Kilgore Trout's Bill of Reader Rights is amusing as well. I wonder if he has ever done a review of the Minister of Propaganda's "Planet of the Apes."

March 24, 2004

Civility in the World and the Blogosphere

Concerning accusations of name-calling by both the Foreign Minister and the Minister of Agriculture: in both cases, I felt my response mirrored the tone set by their original posts. If they felt attacked, that was exactly my point. The 'bare-knuckled roundhouse fight that is blog politics' seems to allow for a general tone of disdain for contrary opinion and dismissive generalizations of one's opponents. Starting from the assumption that everyone on the left is a 'whiner' (as did the Foreign Minister) or that the Spanish voters are 'nimrods' (as did the Minister of Agriculture, thereby initiating the current round of name-calling) does not particularly convince anyone but the already converted to support one's views. When discussing the situation in Iraq, to dismiss the U.N. and the French out of hand is not constructive. That's how a good portion of the world is starting to treat the U.S., in response to Bush's heavy-handed and U.S.-centric foreign policy. I'll agree that there are legitimate and serious critiques to be made of French foreign policy, and I think the Minister of Agriculture's suggestion that those hypocrises be brought to light is a good one. However, I think reacting to French foreign policy with solutions like 'Freedom Fries' and 'Freedom Toast' reveals the absurdity of the discourse. Additionally, we should proceed cautiously into the finger-pointing arena, as I think our own efforts in rebuilding Iraq (economically and politically) have hardly passed the 'enlightened global leadership' test.

It's true that I've only recently joined the Maximum Leader's cabinet, and perhaps general agreement amongst the bloggers allowed the disdainful tone I'm critiquing to go unchallenged in the past. However, I should also point out that Maximum Leader himself seems to maintain a much more consistent tone of civility in discussion, and I think all Ministers should look to his example. Although I'm not sure how 'sleeping with my mother,' as his recent page header proclaimed, fits with that.

The difference between Smallholder beginning a discussion by calling my friend a 'moron' and me opening an argument with 'Smallholder is a nimrod' is twofold: one, my use of 'nimrod' was intended as a mirror to his dismissal of the Spanish, whereas his use of 'moron' had no precedent in our discussion; and two, Smallholder and I have a shared history that allows for ocassionally 'bare-knuckled' teasing between us, whereas he shares no such familiarity with my friend. Contrary to Smallholder's suggestion in a previous post, I think my position on this matter is consistent. I am wryly suggesting that Smallholder consider himself chastised and end this aspect of the discussion. Ha.

Concerning the Spanish election and the situation in Iraq, I refer interested readers to this article, which states, as I predicted, that Zapatero, the PM-elect, has pledged to send additional troops to Afghanistan and, if the U.S. transfers power in Iraq to the U.N., the Spanish troops could stay in place. The Spanish have hardly given up the fight against al Qaeda: if they had, they would also be withdrawing from Afghanistan. The decision not to fight in Iraq under the U.S. umbrella is a tactical decision in the war on terror, not a strategic one. Regarding charges of appeasement: would al Qaeda's behavior be motivated any differently if the Spanish had re-elected the old government and stayed in Iraq? I say no. Al Qaeda's objective in attacking Madrid was not military, it was political. There is no military advantage to the Spanish withdrawal, and al Qaeda knows it: the U.S. has practically unlimited military resources and can compensate for any tactical gap on the ground in Iraq. True, the perception that al Qaeda changed the government of Spain serves the objectives of the terrorists and should be considered a victory for them. But Spain, with 90% of the population opposing the war, was a politically vulnerable target, and al Qaeda chose well.

Other Minister's are more adept at the historical analogies than I, but if we're looking for lessons in WWII, I wouldn't reference the Munich Pact of 1938. I would instead compare it to the Soviet response in the face of Germany's 1941 invasion. Sure, the Germans took the Soviets by surprise and might have thought they were on a roll at the time, but the Soviets conceded the loss of the western territory, dug in for the winter, and didn't surrender the war. No one is suggesting we accomodate al Qaeda -- that would indeed be appeasement. But if we're going to win the war, we've got to look past being simply reactive and consider the full strategy. Spain is still with us in the greater fight.

For our own involvement, it's obviously silly to suggest a full and immediate withdrawal (in the case of the Spanish, we're only talking about 1,200 troops). I agree with most of the suggestions made by the Minister of Agriculture. We should plan on being their for the long haul -- a decade or more. However, I additionally think we should give up civil control of the country and allow the U.N. to have full responsibility (I can already hear the collective scoffing of the blogosphere). The U.N. has a much more successful track record with nation-building than we do, and is currently in the lead in both Afghanistan and Bosnia. We should stick to what our military does best, which is find and kill people, and leave the civil government in hands that are more acceptible to both the Iraqis and the world at large. We should also give up this business of economically punishing France and Germany by restricting contract bids, particularly when we're busy awarding no-bid contracts to Halliburton and other Bush campaign contributors. Basically, I think we should continue to shoulder the military burden in Iraq but we should stop trying to recoup our losses economically. Re-building Iraq in our image undermines our efforts to keep and hold any moral highground. We don't have to agree with it, but we should at least acknowledge that the world's image of the U.S. is not a positive one right now. As a country, I think we should stop being so defensive on the world stage and give some equal time to our critics. We remain the world's only superpower: we are the only nation on the planet with global power and global reach. A little introspection and humility isn't going to change that, and it might actually do us some good.

I'm going out of town for a few days of rest and relaxation; try to remain civil while I'm away.

A Challenge for Analphilosopher

The good professor has yet to "direct my attention" to posts in which he applied an even-handed analysis to the Bush administration. In all fairness, perhaps he missed my posted reply to him underneath the flurry of posts from and about the rapscallion Propaganda Minister.

Or perhaps silence is assent?

At any rate, I would like to see the good Burgess-Jackson do a post on Micheal Kinsley's article in the Washington Post.

Quote that skewers Bush (and, backhandedly, Kerry):

"Honesty means more than factual accuracy, It means avoiding disingenuousness: not talking rot when you know it's rot. If that matters to you above all, you may be out of luck with either candidate this election. But if you wish to measure comparative rot, this 350-tax-increases business may be hard for Kerry to top. "

Up for the challenge, professor?

March 23, 2004

Interesting Read

Oh Yeah? Well, I'm Rubber and You are Glue!

Not so long ago, I was chatting with the Propaganda Minister on the telephone (or, telly, if you prefer, Foreign Minister) and he said that a friend of his believed that Bush has made the nation more polarized than at any earlier point in history.

My response?

“Your friend is a moron.”

Of course, I went on to cite the Revolutionary period, the growth of sectionalism leading to the Civil War, the conflict between workers and owners in the Gilded Age, the anger of the farmers that drove the Populist movement, the various anti-immigration campaigns, the Great Depression (Remember Father Coughlin and Huey Long, anyone?), and Vietnam. I even think Clinton might have led to a more visceral, gut-level polarization. While I dislike the Commander-in-chief’s smarmy insouciance, I don’t think my level of dislike approaches any reasonable facsimile of how the right hated Slick Willy’s guts.

But the Propaganda Minister couldn’t get past my first sentence. He thought the tone was all wrong, disrespectful, and that name-calling was all wrong.

Read the Propaganda Minister’s last few posts. Scroll down. I’ll wait.

The gap between the theory of political civility and the actuality can be easily explained.

The Propaganda Minister is the real Nimrod.

We have converted him to the bare-knuckle roundhouse fight that is blog politics.

I would like to thank the Maximum Leader for providing a forum where we can lay into each other. I hope the readers are entertained. In fact, I know some definitely are – I have received several responses to my offer of boxer short pics of the Propaganda Minister. Of course, Big Hominid only wants the pic so that he can photo-shop out the Maximum Leader’s undergarment.

But to get down to brass tacks:

Quoth the PM: “The Spanish Socialist party isn't going to make Spain isolationist. All they've said is that the war in Iraq, instigated and conducted by the United States, is a distraction from the war on terror. Since when has a refusal to follow the U.S. been enough to label a country 'isolationist?' Your chain of logic is still absurd.”

I’m not judging Spain on its refusal to “follow America.” I’m judging Spain based on the very clear message that Spain has sent to terrorists around the world. I was under the impression that the Socialist Party in Spain was isolationist in character based on the news reports I have seen. However, in a search of the web, I have been unable to verify that isolationism is indeed a major component of Spanish Socialist thought. So I have to (provisionally) doff my hat to the PM and withdraw the isolationist charge.

Side note: Are there any Spanish language speakers out there who are willing to peruse this site for statements on foreign policy?

The Propaganda Minister also calls me to task for not answering his question:

"if al Qaeda succeeds in bringing another major attack against U.S. soil, should all good patriots vote for Bush in November? Taking that logic one step further: even if another attack doesn't occur, should everyone vote for Bush because we don't want al Qaeda to think they've influenced our decision?"

Sorry; I thought that the question was rhetorical. Of course I don’t think that Bush is the only patriotic choice after an al Queda attack. But I do think that people might respond by choosing Bush. Probably because Kerry has been remarkably inarticulate about what exactly he would do about the Iraqi quagmire, aside from consulting with “allies” like the bloody French.

While I think Bush was unnecessarily abrasive to our allies prior to launching Iraq II: The Hunt for Saddam, I can’t take seriously the people who say we ought to have worked to get France on board. There was NOTHING that we could do to influence France to give up its oil contracts or its goal to provide an “alternative” to American leadership. Their default position is to resist and minimize our power. For an excellent discussion of our “ally” and her foreign policy, see:

Winds of Change

The PM’s criticism of the war as a distraction from the war on terrorism is a legitimate concern, particularly in light of the War College’s report. However, some of the other stuff is just, in his words, absurd. We frequently hear the left lay the troubles of the world at our feet: America created Saddam! He’s your fault! I think that the Foreign Minister has already laid waste to that fluff. I’ll just add the comment that if we have indeed created __________ (fill in the blank with the Taliban or any other bad group), then we have a GREATER moral obligation to fix the mess we made. In a reading of Confucius’ Analects in class, we recently went over a passage in which Confucius teaches that good men make mistakes like other men, but that good men endeavor to correct the harm of their mistakes.

Veering in another direction, the FM and PM exchange fire over nation building. Is Iraq analogous to Germany and Japan or is it more parallel to Vietnam? A very interesting question. Perhaps my blogging comrades will tackle this. Why were we able to create stable democracies out of the Third Reich and the Empire of the Rising Sun but stymied by Ho Chi Minh and his merry band?

Note to Foreign Minister: The next time some Vietnam Vet complains that them “damn hippies and politicians wouldn’t let us win,” drop this interesting factoid on them: We dropped TWELVE times more TNT on Vietnam than we did on Germany and Japan. What MORE would you have done. The war unwinnable, and our leaders knew that – check out MacNamara’s mea culpa documentary.

Smallholder’s prescription to make sure the Middle East doesn’t become Vietnam:
1) Kill all the guerillas dead, dead, dead.
2) Hold Middle Eastern governments responsible for policing their borders. If explosives are being shipped across Syrian borders, end Syria’s ability to produce explosives.
3) Take the moral high ground. The Islamo-fascists and genocidal Palestinians do not have moral equivalency to the west. We have to convince their own countrymen that their programs of terror and murder are morally abhorrent.
4) Repeal Bush’s handouts to the wealthy and use the money to build a MASSIVE new infrastructure in Iraq – the Muslim Marshall Plan. Schools, sanitation, telecommunications, power, etc. Admit to the American people that this is going to an investment of money and troops lasting more than a decade.
5) Integrate Iraq into the global capitalist economy so that the Iraqis see they have more to gain from engagement with the world than from killing themselves and us. Tom Friedman has an interesting point on Tim Russert the other night: None of the captives at Guantanamo Bay are Indian citizens. And India has the largest population of Muslims outside of Indonesia. Friedman argued that there are no apocalyptic Indian martyrs because India has become part of a global supply chain.
6) Immediately take steps to reduce our consumption of oil and gasoline. Let’s dry up the petro-dollars that fund the madrassas. Use tax policy to give the automakers incentive to produce more efficient vehicles. Invest government funds in energy research. Cold fusion SO kicks Saudi Arabia’s ass.
7) Refuse to yield the moral high ground in Europe. We should be publishing, complaining, and charging the French with propping up Saddam Hussein. We should be taking documents to the United Nations and asking for a censure of the French regime. France will veto it, of course, but we can’t keep letting France play moral superiority card to advance their Machiavellian designs. Winds of Change, in the article I linked for you above, says that the French public would be largely indifferent to evidence of their government’s duplicity. But maybe not. Maybe if the French population took a long, hard look at their foreign ministry, we might see a change in policy.
8) Level with the American people and explain that our succesful prosecution is going to require sacrifices, even from Americans not in the military. Bush's failure to prepare Americans for an occupation is a good example of his pattern of leadership failure.
9) What am I missing?

I would like to see the PM’s plan. Does he want us to withdraw from Iraq? What does he think the likely consequence of a withdrawal to be?

March 22, 2004

Smallholder is a Nimrod

The Spanish Socialist party isn't going to make Spain isolationist. All they've said is that the war in Iraq, instigated and conducted by the United States, is a distraction from the war on terror. Since when has a refusal to follow the U.S. been enough to label a country 'isolationist?' Your chain of logic is still absurd. No matter how much force you bring to bear in Iraq, it's not going to stop al Qaeda. There are only two reasons any al Qaeda resources are presently in Iraq: 1) to attack targets of opportunity for PR purposes, not military gain, or 2) to recruit from a growing anti-American segment of the population. Neither of these opportunities existed for al Qaeda before the war. The Spanish are leaving Iraq because the Iraq War is bad foreign policy, and a majority of the Spanish now agree. Personally, I think the Spanish should transfer those forces over to Afghanistan, where some real al Qaeda fighting is being done, but either way, I think the Spanish people are just as committed as we are to finding and killing the perpetrators of the Madrid atrocity. I even bet that if we gave up our interests in Iraq and let the U.N. take the lead, the Spanish would return, joined by forces from many other nations. That's not going to happen with Bush as President.

The Minister of Agriculture also didn't answer my question, although he quoted it in his post: if al Qaeda succeeds in bringing another major attack against U.S. soil, should all good patriots vote for Bush in November? Taking that logic one step further: even if another attack doesn't occur, should everyone vote for Bush because we don't want al Qaeda to think they've influenced our decision? If he answers 'yes' to that, you can bet I'm going to have a word with his wife.

And yes, the Minister of Agriculture is indeed a hunter of sorts, but that's not the definition I'm talking about.

The Ridiculously Reactionary and Sensationalist, Grossly Inappropriate Smallholder Replies to His Best Man

You'd never know it from this blog, but we are all tied (perhaps indirectly) by strong bonds of friendship. We just get a wee bit excited by ideas and politics. Which is how it should be.

Both the Minister of Propagands and the Maximum Leader were part of my wedding party. If any readers are interested in a picture of the two of them cavorting on a couch wearing only tuxedo tops and boxer shorts, send an e-mail request to

In his latest blog entry (how many fan mails will he get this time?), the Minister of Propaganda writes:

On the same point, I obviously wasn't clear when I complained about the general tone of discussion on the blog concerning the Spanish election. I think all of the 1938 comparisons amount to reactionary sensationalism, but it was specifically the Minister of Agriculture who called the Spanish 'nimrods,' which I found grossly inappropriate. Leave the hyperbole aside: its' ridiculous to equate a shift of parliamentary control in the Spanish government (some 150 seats for the Socialists vs. some 140 seats for the conservatives, neither party with a controlling majority) to the appeasement of Hitler. If the U.S. suffers another major attack before November, should all good patriots (of which I consider myself one) fall in behind Bush because it's important we not give the perception of changing course? Absurd.

Well, lets see:

Previous Hitler aggressions --> Hitler's claims on the Sudetenland --> Munich Appeasement --> Further aggression.

Previous al Queda atrocities --> Al Queda's attack on Spain --> Spanish withdrawal from Iraq --> Further aggression? Or is Al Queda satisfied?

Hitler didn't commit aggressions to rectify the wrongs of the League of Nations. Al Queda doesn't commit aggressions to free Iraq. Hitler wanted to rule the world. Al Queda wants to rule the world.

In both situations, previous behavior indicated to thoughtful observers that the perpetrators could not be appeased. In fact, thoughtful people realized that the aggressions should be met with the force requisite to destroying the evil regimes, or at least detering further aggression. I think the analogy holds up well. Why is that either reactionary or sensationalistic? 'Splain, please, my friend.

Definition of nimrod:

1. also Nimrod A hunter.
2. Informal. A person regarded as silly, foolish, or stupid.

Well, the Propaganda Minister is correct in that, by the standard of the first definition, calling the Spanish hunters is grossly inappropriate.

But if we use the second definition, the Spanish public's decision to elect a leader who says that they become isolationist in the face of terror, even if they supported him to punish the prevarications of the former government, is, silly, foolish, and stupid.

A Reply to the Analphilosopher

I’m sorry for the belated response; I figured I should actually take the time to write a clearer message than with my first Analphilosopher driveby. In my rambling post on the 16th of this month, I criticized the nature of the professor’s political commentary. He responded on his blog, and while he misidentified me as our esteemed leader, he did make the esteemed leader happy with the cross-blog debate. Well, here’s Smallholder’s contribution, take two:

Analphilosopher writes:

Ouch! Where to begin? First, I did not admit to propagandizing in the derogatory sense. Like everyone else, I have views and values that I try to propagate; but I do so openly and, I like to think, fairly. Others will have to be the judge of whether I pull it off.

Well, as an other, I did judge the fairness of the political commentary. Unlike the other, thought-provoking entries on philosophy and animal rights, this other thinks that the treatment of Bush is more apologetically knee-jerk defense than reasoned argument. I used the Tech Central Column that defended Bush’s honesty as an example, and asked the professor to apply his standard to the concealment of the true costs of the Medicare bill. The professor replied:

Second, I don't know enough (yet) about the Medicare bill. If and when I come to the conclusion that President Bush lied about it, I'll say so. Why would I try to shield him from criticism? I'm a philosopher, not a political hack. I care about process, not (just) result. And let's not lose sight of the fact that, even if President Bush lied, it would not affect the merits of the bill. This is the point I've been making for many months with respect to the war in Iraq. Whether the war was justified is independent of the motivation (as well as the stated reasons) of President Bush or others in his administration. Someone might say, for example, that the war is justified on humanitarian grounds even though that was not its motivation.

I agree with almost everything that the professor says in that paragraph. The Medicare bill, IMHO, is horse. When it cynically inflicts a huge cost on the younger generation for the benefit of an older (and richer) generation, it matters little whether the bill is $300 billion or $600 billion. However, my post was actually about the honesty of the Bush administration. I support evaluating government actions on the basis of their efficacy – whether it is Medicare or Iraq. But the motivations and honesty of the president is important as well. I believe that Analphilosopher has been giving the president a pass and not holding him accountable.

<< Side note – should a supporter of gay marriage as an issue of basic justice praise or revile Bush? On one hand, Bush has cynically supported an Amendment that has zero chance of passing (and he and Karl Rove, astute political scholars know this) as a way of energizing his right wing base and shifting the campaign away from fiscal responsibility, honesty, and the troubled reconstruction of Iraq. On the other hand, Bush has essentially conceded that the discrimination against gays is currently unconstitutional (and thus the need for the amendment). Since the amendment is DOA, Bush has essentially conceded the battle. Falwell, his boys, and the Maximum Leader will continue to weep and gnash their teeth, but the herald has already arrived at Harry’s camp to name the castle in the distance. Note the gratuitous Shakespeare reference. >>

Since Analphilosopher was being unusually uncritical and unreflective about the Bush administration, I speculated that perhaps he was muting and criticism for fear of harming Bush’s campaign efforts. This seems to have gotten Analphilosopher’s dander up:

Third, I am not and have never been a consequentialist, much less an act-consequentialist. I'm a deontologist. I believe that there are certain acts that must not be performed even if they produce the best overall consequences. Also, there is no obligation to produce the best overall consequences. I endorse, in other words, both agent-centered restrictions (i.e., constraints) and an agent-centered prerogative (i.e., an option). Act-consequentialists reject both of these features. I'm as far from act-consequentialism (theoretically speaking) as a person can get! My version of deontology is deontological egoism. (See my essay of that title, a link to which appears on the left of this blog.)

I was entirely aware of Analphilosopher’s stated position. I was merely trying to call attention to the fact that it didn’t seem to be applied in the political realm. Where is the critique of Bush’s “agent-centered” restrictions?

Analphilosopher concludes:

Fourth, I hold no brief for President Bush, even though I like him. I've said that I will vote for Ralph Nader for a third time, despite disagreeing with him about many matters. Do I prefer President Bush to John Kerry? Yes. Does that mean I uncritically accept every policy prescription of the Bush administration? No. Does anybody agree with any candidate on every issue? On election day, each of us must make an all-things-considered judgment about which candidate is best for the country. For many of us, questions of national security take pride of place. On that question, there is no comparison between President Bush and John Kerry. I don't trust John Kerry to protect Americans or American interests. I think he's the wrong person to be president at this time and place. We're at war. This is an important juncture in human history (even though many Europeans and Americans don't realize it or refuse to face up to it). We don't need nuance. We need clarity and vision. We don't need vacillation. We need strength and resolve. We don't need a ditherer. We need a doer. The person we need is already in the White House.

I am on the fence in the Kerry-Bush election; I can see pros and cons to both potential presidencies. Analphilosopher accepts this as reality: “On election day, each of us must make an all-things-considered judgment.” Re-read the remainder of his paragraph above. Does it seem to be “all things considered? Bush, in each of the criteria proposed by the good professor, is pictured as the pure positive.

Analphilosopher’s signature line:

The Maximum Leader may say that this is mere rhetoric, an attempt to snow my readers. I beg to disagree. I'm pointing out real differences in character, belief, value, and judgment between the two major-party candidates. What more could one want in the way of argument?

I, for one, would like less blind partisanship and a more reasoned “all-things-considered” approach. Analphilosopher says he can see both pros and cons to either presidency, but only gives his readers the Kerry “cons” and the Bush “pros.” If we are to buy Analphilosopher’s rejection of act-consequentialism, shouldn’t we see the Kerry “pros” and the Bush “cons?”

One doesn’t have to look very far at to see a fair number of anti-Kerry attacks. Perhaps Analphilosopher really is a deontologist, one would think that a more balanced appraisal of Bush would be evident.

Perhaps I have missed a blog entry where Analphilosopher has taken exception to a Bush position. Perhaps the good professor could direct my attention to previous entries where he has been even-handed in his analysis? I would be happy with one acknowledgement that Kerry might have a better idea on one issue and one single criticism of Bush. The gauntlet has been thrown.

Alternatively, Analphilosopher could just admit his membership in the vast right-wing conspiracy and openly join the elephant echo chamber. I would respect that. But I would start entirely skipping the political propaganda and focus on the elements of his blog that focus on animals, philosophy, and teaching.

Just a few brief comments to the Foreign Minister and then I'm really done

I'll concede the Foreign Minister a few points in his last posting, although there are an equal number of conclusions I strongly disagree with. I laughed aloud at the link to 'POTA,' and we are in agreement that it's a complete waste. (admittedly, I wasted a lot more than 1 hour and 59 minutes on that project).

Returning to the debate, I think the general misperceptions about Vietnam are interesting. Vietnam is an important debate point because everyone wants to compare that war with the situation in Iraq, one way or the other. I know that Tet was a huge military defeat for the Vietcong and a complete failure as measured by their own objectives. However, your assertion that the media took the event and turned public opinion against the war is a myth perpetuated by both the military and the media itself. Immediately following Tet, people did not turn against the war: an larger percentage of the public actually favored escalating the war rather than withdrawing from Vietnam. A shift in public opinion did occur, however, but it wasn't about policy: the shift was against the administration, which had recently made claims that 65% of the country was pacified -- claims that Tet proved false. The problem wasn't just that the Vietcong penetrated the American embassy, but that the government spokesmen had previously claimed that the embassy was impenetrable. In fact, media coverage of the war after Tet continued to parallel public opinion: some editorials called with withdrawal, some for escalation, others for staying the course. What did increase was media coverage skeptical of the administration: images like the South Vietnamese police chief executing the Vietcong prisoner in the street and the military spokesman saying "We had to destroy the village in order to save it" solidified the idea that Johnson was saying one thing to the American public when in fact there was a completely different war being fought in Vietnam. If you study the statistics, media coverage of any given event typically shifts in response to and as a reflection of public opinion, not the other way around. "Blame the media" is a favorite game of the political Right but it's out of touch with the facts.

Incidentally, name-calling is equally attributable to both the Left and the Right. And if you really want to see the Foreign Minister rant like a lunatic, get him started on Gun Control.

It's a lot to suggest in the internet age, but for reading on Vietnam I would offer "The Irony of Vietnam: The System Worked," byt Leslie H. Gelb and Richard K. Betts, "An American Ordeal: The Anitwar Movement of the Vietnam Era," by Charles DeBenedetti, and "The Debate Over Vietnam," by David W. Levy. I also have a book around here somewhere that deals specifically with perceptions about the media, but I can't find it amongst the war library (perhaps it's misfiled; I'll keep looking because I want to send it to the Foreign Minister for Christmas).

The issue of dishonest government was also a major factor in the Spanish election. The government blamed ETA, even when evidence was in hand suggesting an al Qaeda link, because there was a concerted effort already underway to paint the Socialists as soft on domestic terrorists. Those efforts backfired. Well before the Madrid attacks, a large majority of the Spanish opposed the Iraq War. Separate from that issue, the Spanish tossed their government for lying about it. I hope we do the same.

On the same point, I obviously wasn't clear when I complained about the general tone of discussion on the blog concerning the Spanish election. I think all of the 1938 comparisons amount to reactionary sensationalism, but it was specifically the Minister of Agriculture who called the Spanish 'nimrods,' which I found grossly inappropriate. Leave the hyperbole aside: its' ridiculous to equate a shift of parliamentary control in the Spanish government (some 150 seats for the Socialists vs. some 140 seats for the conservatives, neither party with a controlling majority) to the appeasement of Hitler. If the U.S. suffers another major attack before November, should all good patriots (of which I consider myself one) fall in behind Bush because it's important we not give the perception of changing course? Absurd.

While it might be amusing blog fun to rail against the French, the Spanish, the U.N., and the global community in general, I hope Maximum Leader's cabinet recognizes the necessity of actually engaging the world in matters that are going to affect the world. Have it both ways, if you will: that's certainly how Bush wants to play it.

In general, I think my debate with the Foreign Minister reflects a fundamental difference of opinion on Iraq. If one thinks the war was a good thing, one is going to accept certain sacrifices in that pursuit and generally forgive the process that led us to war in the first place. If one feels, as I do, that the war is not only a dangerous distraction from the war on terror but will actually make the world less safe in 10 years, than even a single American casuality is one too many. The danger of al Qaeda sending people to Iraq isn't that they're going to engage our military on the ground, akin to the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. The danger to America is that al Qaeda is in Iraq RECRUITING. There's certainly a lot of anti-Americanism to exploit -- I'd say it's equally likely that the next big al Qaeda attack on U.S. soil (or more likely, the one after that) will be carried out by Iraqi nationals rather than Saudi nationals. By the time those consequences come to light, it may be too late.

March 20, 2004

More Minion Mailbag.

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been very pleased to read the great posts from his various ministers this week. Alas, your Maximum Leader has been quite preoccupied by other things. He's been on the phone with his buddy Pervez almost all week. We'll see if he takes your Maximum Leader's advice and just starts carpet bombing...


A few notes... To loyal minion, Kilgore Trout, if you are out there. Your Maximum Leader hasn't forgotten you my friend. That introduction we talked about a few weeks ago... Well, your Maximum Leader is really really slack sometimes. He's been unable to get his friend on the phone for more than 30 seconds. He's going to try again this weekend... Perhaps good will come of it. Your Maximum Leader will tell her to bring you some Hot Pockets, courtesy of your Maximum Leader.

Do my loyal minion readers go and read Anna on Primal Purge on a regular basis? Your Maximum Leader would hope so. Just today Anna strung together a great post from the most unlikely sources. Allow him to add that when he read this post a few weeks ago he both spewed hot tea (Mighty Leaf Hojicha in fact) through his nose, and fell out of his very comfy leather computer throne. Indeed, your Maximum Leader recommended it to the Poet Laureate, who also thought it was good.

Well... Let's move on to the Minion Mailbag shall we?

A reader named "G." from "some European Nation that hates Bush" writes:
Subj:The Foreign Minister is the Best!

Wow that guy is incredible!

I love to read his stuff.
Your Maximum Leader responds: Well "G," your Maximum Leader thinks that the Foreign Minister is pretty cool too. Indeed, we scored so similarly on the Libertarian Purity Test, how could your Maximum Leader not think he was pretty good? Your Maximum Leader doesn't think there will be any demotions or changes to his Ministerial lineup in the near future. Besides, he knows that the firepower needed to overcome the Foreign Minister is considerable, and resources would be better used elsewhere.

You know... Upon closer examination of that last message... It might have come from... The Foreign Minister himself! Humm... Your Maximum Leader senses some jealousy, no? Well, my friend fear not. Your Maximum Leader knows of at least one person (other than Mrs. Foreign Minister) who thinks you are the bee's knees.

And in a second message in one week, "Powermfm" writes:
weak weaker, weakest . . . they all fluctuate in a heartbeat. If it's Tuesday, one country will purge its weapons of mass destruction programs. And yet again, if its Wednesday, well . . . Yes, they all have the capability of falling like a house of cards with the only possible exception being Saudia where Islam started and Mecca and Medina reside. That simply could cause resistance. Yet it really isn't the institutional governments that would be the real and total problem. Its those petilential cowardly cells. And, oh ML, so many people cannot differentiate political will from psychosis (Hitler, Stalin, et al.). When it comes to China, they are still on the brink of mass famine and starvation as seen about 40 years ago when 600,000 died in such circumstances and the gravity of it all was covered up by Mao. It aint their technology or their sudden craving for a consumer society; its the arable land situation. I am still trying to find anything in China remotely like our midwestern plains full of waving grain. Keep running into those mountains and extraordinarily narrow cuts through them often containing a river perversely given to massive flooding in a light mist. Please also note in recent chinese history things such as SARS and bird flu, neither of which were handled well and they paid the highest price. By the way, I thought it was North Korea currently in the running for the prize of asking us how many of our cities were were willing to sacrifice.
Your Maximum Leader responds: First, of all of the middle eastern nations capable of falling like a house of cards, Saudi Arabia is much further up the list than you give them credit for. The current Saudi Royal Family rules that nation through a combination of strong-arm police tactics, bribery, Sharia, and good old fashion autocracy. See here, here, here, and here for more. Surely Mecca and Medina are in Saudi Arabia, and the current Royal Family is very particular about their role as defender and custodian of these sites. But that fact didn't keep Ibn Saud from overthrowing the Hashemites in 1925. (Who it can be argued were the rightful rulers of that region and had the stronger historical claim of being custodians of the holy sites.) And that fact will not deter some future person or group from overthrowing the House of Saud.

And moving on to Asia... Your Maximum Leader is perfectly capable of differentiating "political will" from "psychosis." If you believe that the current leadership of China is psychotic in the Hitler and Stalin vein, your Maximum Leader suggests you pull out a DSM IV and re-evaluate your asessment of psychotic. While they certainly aren't likely to win any congeniality awards, neither do they bear a resemblance to the Hitler model of leadership. If your Maximum Leader might parapharase Monty Python, Hu Jintao may be short, and fat, and pushy; but at least he's not insane.

As for China being on the brink of mass starvation... It could happen. If the planets align and plagues of locusts stream in from Mongolia and the Russian Steppes. The starvations you are talking about by your own admission happened 40 years ago. Your Maximum Leader commends for your review this profile from our very own Department of State. To quote a salient passage:
During the 1980s, these reforms led to average annual rates of growth of 10% in agricultural and industrial output. Rural per capita real income doubled. China became self-sufficient in grain production; rural industries accounted for 23% of agricultural output, helping absorb surplus labor in the countryside. The variety of light industrial and consumer goods increased. Reforms began in the fiscal, financial, banking, price-setting, and labor systems.
Roughly half of China's labor force is engaged in agriculture, even though only 10% of the land is suitable for cultivation. China is among the world's largest producers of rice, potatoes, sorghum, millet, barley, peanuts, tea, and pork. Major non-food crops include cotton, other fibers, and oilseeds. Yields are high because of intensive cultivation, but China hopes to further increase agricultural production through improved plant stocks, fertilizers, and technology. Incomes for Chinese farmers are stagnating, leading to an increasing wealth gap between the cities and countryside. Government policies that continue to emphasize grain self-sufficiency and the fact that farmers do not own--and cannot buy or sell--the land they work have contributed to this situation. In addition, inadequate port facilities and lack of warehousing and cold storage facilities impede both domestic and international agricultural trade.
While they don't have amber waves of grain in the Yang'tze river valley, they are not malnurished and on the verge of starvation. Your Maximum Leader suspects that the Chinese will continue to increase their agricultural output as they apply technology to their already staggering labour force in agriculture. Ditto their industrial output.

As for SARS and Bird Flu. Your Maximum Leader is afraid that you over-estimate the full extent of these attacks. While your Maximum Leader concurs that the Chinese Government didn't deal well with these outbreaks, he hardly thinks that China suffered the "highest price." According to the World Health Organization, the total number of fatalities due to SARS after the high-point of the outbreak last year was 648. Our own CDC estimates the total deaths worldwide to be 780. As for Bird Flu, the WHO attributes 23 deaths to the most recent outbreak. None of those deaths are in China.

Your Maximum Leader will stand by his comments on China. While he does not believe they are a great threat to the US at this time, the day might come very soon when they will make us choose between Los Angeles or Taipei.

As for North Korea being more likely to threaten us with nuclear weapons. Your Maximum Leader agrees that if they could deliver a nuclear device to the US they would. At this point your Maximum Leader would more expect that North Korean nuclear weapon to be targeted at South Korea or Japan. (Afterall, NK recently shot a missile towards Japan.) The situation in North Korea is of much concern to your Maximum Leader and to many others. He commends a host of Koreabloggers to read to keep an eye on North Korea. Those Koreabloggers include, our own Big Hominid, Robert at the Marmot's Hole, and Kevin at Incestuous Amplification. These are the Koreablogs your Maximum Leader checks out regularly.

Carry on.

March 19, 2004

You talking to me?

Ouch PM.... looks like this blogging is going to kill another work day's productivity for you as well.
Can't wait to pass the boot with you again. I am only sorry that we never really got to spend much time together.... it only seems like is was enough for you to consider me a ranting lunatic.

Be that as it may....

You ever notice that the LEFT is usually always the first side to hurl direct insults in a discussion (or political argument)?
And these are supposed to be the "open minded" understanding caring people. Well, at least that is what Hollywood and the media tell us.

Why can't they all be caring and compassionate like they make their fictional President Bartlet to be?

Not only that, but it is usually a sign that someone has lost an argument. "Well, yada yada yada and you are a ranting lunatic". I know that this is not the case because I have more respect for the PM than that (and apparently than he has for me....)

Personally, I wouldn't want to openly debate ANY ONE of the Ministers in the hierarchy of the MWO, least of all the Minister of Propaganda. To be honest I would get smoked. I never took a philosophy or a debate class, and honestly, I spent most my time in college/grad school either staring into a beaker of formaldehyde or in compiling computer programs so I am not prepared or cut out for it.

That being said, I really wonder where the PM is getting his information.

Let's start with:

Military Deaths
I guess the US is getting so efficient in waging a war that we when we "loose" 571 in a year (in a country that is ground zero for Islamic militant/terrorist to strike at the Great Satan) that it becomes unacceptable.

The point I was trying to (and obviously did not) make is that any venture that is going to put troops on the ground in the Middle East is going to open us up as a target and we will take casualties. And, we should not let the fact that we take these casualties interfere with our ability to do the stated mission. I merely brought up the fact that (according to your sources) we are loosing 123 a year just in training/accidents alone. Is this number so high that we should suspend all military training? I do not think so.

Well, yes I do consider the military deaths in Iraq to be an irreversible fact (unless you were intending 'fait accompli' to mean something different) . Does this dishonor the troops? I don't think so. While I have not served in the military (as you and the M of A have), I am here at an Army base in Germany whose soldiers are, at this moment, deployed to the Sunni triangle.

If you do not think that every time a roadside bomb goes off and kills one of our soldiers, that it does not affect me, you are gravely mistaken. Chances are that the soldier's son or daughter is in my wife's 1st grade class, or that I have spotted them on the bench press at the base gym, or that their teenage son has asked me if I "wanted fries with that" at the Wurzburg base's Burger King.

The Rain in Spain.....
He also engages in a logical fallacy by assuming that terror organizations are focusing on our soldiers in Iraq at the expense of 'soft homeland targets.' Following the same logic, Spain's troops in Iraq should have prevented the attack on Madrid.

Wait a minute... the Left has said we moved unilaterally in Iraq and that we did not have a coalition.
They (the Left) have also said that, now that we are in Iraq, hundreds if not thousands of Islamic Militants are heading to Iraq to take on the US military (whether directly or indirectly).
Remember, you guys said that Al Qaeda was not IN Iraq until we started the war....

No, I don't think that Al Qaeda sleeper cells in Spain, France, and ??? have hopped on a plane and headed to Iraq, but it would not surprise me if Islamic militants in Syria, Palestine, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, etc have not donned a black head scarf and crossed the border.....

I do believe that a portion (but not all) of Al Qaeda's financial and material efforts are focused on combating US forces in Iraq (and Afghanistan). Not to say that there AREN'T sleeper cells in the US waiting for a follow up, but at least they are spending significant efforts in Iraq.

Have you given any thought to the fact that everyone's knee jerk reaction might be right!
I just think that Al Qaeda, if responsible in Spain, will call it a success. Not just because they killed and wounded a bunch of people, but because it changed public policy and the head of government in Spain.

"The Spanish socialists were opposed to the Iraq war before the election and have maintained their position since"

That may be true but the fact is that the Spanish Socialist WERE NOT IN POWER before the bombs went off nor were they expected to be after the election less than a week later. Spain was set to re-elect the president. (who was an ally of the US and Bush) but just three days later, they elected a Socialist that intends to pull out of Iraq.

Al Qaeda 1 Spain 0

You said
"Under the circumstances, I find the dismissive tone and insulting choice of words to describe the Spanish voters as grossly inappropriate."

What on earth are you referring to? Did I even mention the Spanish voters in my previous post? I will look again but All I said about Spain was

"If Kerry gets in, the Terrorist win. Just like in Spain. I do not want a president that has to call Chirac to consult on ANYTHING let alone international affairs."

Please explain your attack on me because re-reading my own post does not show anything that you are accusing me of. (although… this method of attack is often used by those on the left: Make up something that those on the right have "said".)

Are you suggesting that we just pull out of Iraq? Will that work better there than in Vietnam?

Why was Spain attacked by Al Qaeda then, because of their participation in Iraq or because that was the next logical step after 9/11?
I don't think that you can have this both ways.

COST of 9/11
Uhhhh... first of all your first two "Links" are either dead or they successfully link you to a OP ED piece in the highly regarded un-biased "Wisconsin's PROGRESSIVE Newspaper.
How hard did you have to look to dig up that Gem? Or is it a bookmarked as in the M of P's Favorites?

Here is a simple trick..... type "Cost of 9/11" in to Google
if you are feeling lucky will lead you directly to a GAO report on the cost which as of May 2002 were estimated to be anywhere from 56 Billion up to 105 billon! Now this is just New York City folks.... further down in the report sites the New York Senates Finance Committee estimating Tourism, Business travel, and Economic losses to the whole of the US at 639 billion!

If you have been on an aircraft since 9-11, you will notice that there has been a massive increase in Airport security world wide as a result... this is not free and is a direct cost of 9-11. Baggage scanners, security guards, equipment all add to the cost (not to mention the devastation that it caused the airline industry)

On every base overseas, security has intensified as well, gates and fences, security guards (yes, it is contracted out in some situations) servalance equipment (Each base now has a nifty new gigantic 600 million dollar X-ray truck to "scan" vehicles entering the base. I don't know if they are used at US bases in the states but that is a LOT of money just for the bases in Germany alone.

I would imagine it would be impossible to get your arms fully around the total economic cost of 9-11 to the US and the World..... but if you think that the war in Iraq is costing us more then go here

Germany, Vietnam, Iraq ad nauseum
My point is that we are fully capable of occupying a country. If we are able to do what is necessary to occupy it (which may include loosing troops)
No, Iraq hasn't surrendered... I guess that we could formally "ask" Saddam to "surrender" his country but I am not sure how much good it will do. Most of those in the Middle East are bottle fed on Anti-Americanism, and I don't expect them to change overnight.

Uhhhh TET.
It does not surprise me that your time in Hollywood has poisoned the well of military history.... I have seen the movies they make and remembering that Fact, doesn't often make a good story (i.e sell tickets), it does not surprise me about the fallacy of the ordinary American's idea about Vietnam.

If you want to read a good shortish article about TET, check this out
But, in a nutshell, we kicked their ass! The never took Khe Sanh, and across the board, the NVA and VC forces were forced back and it was all clear by the end of February.
What did happen was how the media had a field day with it and the way it was projected to an American public that had never before witnessed the reality of war in semi-real time.

About Vietnam you said that early in the war "American public opinion strongly supported continued military operations". This just illustrates the power of the presses ability to change the way Americans think.
Quoting my link above
The security of the Embassy was not in serious danger after the first few minutes and the damage was slight but this attack on 'American soil" captured the imagination of the media and the battle became symbolic of the Tet Offensive throughout the world.
Thanks media...

If this would have happened in WW2, America would have pulled out after the Battle of the Bulge when Hitler (like Hanoi at TET) used all of his last efforts to divide and sting the Allies.

Even still, I assume that you would rather let communism (or Saddamism) reign instead of propping up corrupt and ineffective governments?

Can't imagine your thoughts on Haiti.

No matter what country and situation you have, after one government is out there is a perceived "pay back" time that the former "out of power now in power" folks want to hand out. Lets hope this will not happen. But even Iraq's next door neighbors Iran are internally struggling with their Religious rule and they are rethinking the process. Lets hope that a democratic Iraq can be a beacon that the rest of the middle east can use.

Unless you don't want Democracy in Iraq to be successful? While this is great politically for the left, it is not good for the Iraqis or anyone else.

I am glad to hear that Kerry has Promised to consult with our allies. I feel so much better. I just hope that the Countries he consults with have no vested interest in what we want to do.

Kerry: Hey Chirac, we need to sort out Iraq.
Chirac: No can do, they owe us billions of dollars and if you replace the regime, we wont get our money back.
Kerry: Hey Putin, can you help us out with Iraq
Putin: Are you high? They owe us billions! We have sold them tons of military equipment and have signed contracts to pull oil out the ground worth 30 Billion, don't fuck this up for me, my economy sucks enough as it is
Kerry: Sezer my Man! Can you help us out in you Neighbor Iraq?
Sezer: You got 20 Billion?
Kerry: Oh well, even though I have testified that Iraq has WMD and is a threat to the US, I guess its not in our best interest right guys?

"The Foreign Minister's display of jingoism is an embarrassment"

Wow, I have embarrassed the Propaganda minister… you want embarrassment, waste one hour and fifty nine minutes HERE

Back to the trenches (where I will lift a glass of fine German wine to the health of the PM)

I have ALWAYS enjoyed the fact that you signed me up for that kids enviromental newsletter. Really, I got a chuckle out of it and thought of you every time it came in the mail!

March 18, 2004

Archives work!

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader believes all of the archive links on the left are now active. But the permalinks at the end of each post are not quite right. So, he continues to work on them. If you want to link to a particular post, look it up in the archives and use the permalink found there. Those work just fine.

Carry on.

One More Round on Iraq

I love the Foreign Minister and I'd gladly drink from the boot with him, but, politically speaking, he's been a ranting lunatic since I've known him and I'm not going to try and change his mind about anything. I will, however, take the opportunity to correct a few of his assertions and identify a few logical fallacies. Maximum Leader, if you could edit my posting to delete this sentence and embed my links, I'd be most grateful; we'll get that blog training underway in the near future, I promise.

Between 1998 and 2002, military on-duty accidental deaths averaged 123/year. As of Nov 4th, the count for 2003 was 225, with 83 credited to Iraq. ( Of course, those 123 accidental deaths a year are still happening regardless of operations in Iraq. Just over a year's worth of operational fatalities in Iraq have been much higher of course: 571 dead and a staggering 2,825 wounded, as of March 17th, 2004. ( There is no comparison between the daily casualties we're suffering on the ground due to combat operations and the accidental deaths elsewhere. Frankly, while I'm sure it was unintentional, I found the Foreign Minister's dismissal of Iraq casualties as a 'fait accompli' insulting to the sacrifices our troops are making. He also engages in a logical fallacy by assuming that terror organizations are focusing on our soldiers in Iraq at the expense of 'soft homeland targets.' Following the same logic, Spain's troops in Iraq should have prevented the attack on Madrid.

COST OF 9/ll vs IRAQ
With some room for debate, the economic costs of 9/11 are estimated at about $54 billion ( I say some room for debate, because that figure includes an estimated $8 billion for infrastructure improvements and a business stimulus package unrelated to the attack. Estimates for rebuilding Iraq fluctuate wildly but realistically average between $500-600 billion ( By the Pentagon's own estimates, military operations are costing about $4.7 billion/month ( For a running total of costs, go to, which is based on estimates from the Congressional Budget Office; it currently stands at well over $106 billion.

The Foreign Minister's lack of historical perspective is an embarrassment to his portfolio. There is no parallel between the defeat of Germany after WWII and the defeat of Iraq. The Allies received a formal German surrender after years of conflict across the European continent. The weary and defeated German army returned home and assisted with the rebuilding effort. Iraq never surrendered -- all of the leadership fled -- and the military simply disappeared into the countryside, along with all of their weapons, ordinance and whatever semblance of organization still existed. Surprise! These individuals are considered a major aspect of the insurgency we're currently fighting. Vietnam is a better comparison, but not based on your trite suggestion that we lost it because of 'appeasement monkeys' back home. Initially during the Vietnam conflict, American public opinion strongly supported continued military operations, and both the politicians and the new media reflected that viewpoint. Public opinion shifted after the 1968 Tet Offensive because the scale of the attacks suggested a level of insurgency that was inconsistent with what the U.S. government had been reporting. Even if the public had remained blindly in support of the war in Vietnam, the fact is we were attempting to prop up a corrupt and inept government against a popular revolution. Read just a little about Ahmad Chalabl in Iraq and draw your own comparisons.

Does America really want a self-governing democracy in Iraq? Most Shiites (the vast Iraqi majority which was oppressed under Hussein) favor a religous-style theocracy like...Iran. They're also itching for revenge on the minority Sunnis, who made up the basis of Hussein's government. The Kurds in the north actually favor in independent country, which unfortunately includes a significant portion of our NATO ally, Turkey. If the Kurds don't get granted near autonomy, they are likely to start a civil war. Iraq was not and is not a stable country like Germany or Japan, and concern over these consequences was a probalby THE major factor in Bush I's decision not to remove Hussein from power in 1991.

Everyone on the blog, including the normally rational Minister of Agriculture, has displayed a knee-jerk reaction to the recent Spanish election. The basic fallacy is automatically linking the 'War on Terror' to the 'War in Iraq.' Al Queda's objective is the complete collapse of western civilization. Of course they are not going to respond to appeasement. They are going to continue attacking us no matter what we do. We have to hunt and kill every member of their organization, and I've always been in favor of taking the fight to them (as the record will show, I was and still am in favor of operations in Afghanistan -- I wish we hadn't curtailed them when we shifted resources to Iraq). But withdrawing from Iraq isn't like ransoming hostages. The point is, as far as Al Queda is concerned, it really doesn't matter if we or the Spanish or the Poles are in Iraq or not. The war in Iraq was a bad policy before the Madrid attacks and it remains a bad policy after the attacks, irregardless of what Al Queda says or does. The Spanish socialists were opposed to the Iraq war before the election and have maintained their position since. The incoming government has promised a strong crackdown on terrorism and I believe them. The Spanish are not idiots: they have been and will continue to be strong allies in tracing the terrorist networks in Europe and arrested their members. But it is only U.S. policy that has tried to make the Iraq war the primary front against terror. We can fight terrorism without getting bogged down in Iraq; my hope is that our country will undergo a similiar re-examination without first experiencing such horrible tragedy. Under the circumstances, I find the dismissive tone and insulting choice of words to describe the Spanish voters as grossly inappropriate.

Finally, consulting with our Allies in matters of international affairs, which Kerry has promised to do and Bush has ineptly refused to even consider, isn't stupid or weak: it's called LEADERSHIP. A good leader always consults with others, particularly his subordinates, even if the final decision remains his alone. If we want other nations to follow our lead, we need to start acting the part. The Foreign Minister's display of jingoism is an embarrassment, and I request that the Maximum Leader revoke his portfolio. Give him something less problematic, like the Ministry of the Interior or Homeland Security, and let him start fresh.

Incidentally, my own portfolio as Minister of Propaganda refers to my professional work as a member of the liberal Hollywood elite. The political blogging is just for fun.

UPDATE FROM MAXIMUM LEADER: Links were activated. And politcal blogging (even among friends) is lots of fun. Thanks for joining. Even if you do get fan mail.

March 17, 2004

Burgess-Jackson Responds

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was over at the Analphilosopher site today and he saw this response to a recent post by the Minister of Agriculture.

This Minister of Agriculture said he was ready for return fire... Methinks he wasn't quite ready for return fire from the good Doctor Burgess-Jackson.

Cross-blogging debates! Your Maximum Leader loves it!

Carry on.

Christopher Hitchens in Slate

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader always enjoys reading a Christopher Hitchens piece. Although this one started off in a way that was somewhat disturbing, Hitchens gets to the point effectively. That point being Europe can't hide from terrorist attacks, and that retreat after being attacked is a recipe for more attacks.

Carry on.

Good morning laugh.

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader got a great belly laugh from the most excellent Kilgore Trout after reading his most recent post. Go check it out. You'll laugh...

Carry on.

My God who is he the Propaganda Minister for???

Short and Pithy eh?

Ok... maybe he should be the Minister of Misinformation.

It is obvious that everyone on the left (except John Kerry) did not and would not support a war against Iraq. For whatever reasons you could care to list. Hindsight, is a wonderful thing.

We had 10 years of no complying and evasive maneuvers from Saddam and his regime. Are the Iraqi people better of now that they were 1 year (and a few days) ago? (or 2, 4 or 15 years???)

The Middle East is a festering pustule! Have we upset that balance? Certainly, but how could that be a bad thing?

I take issue with America's ability to occupy a defeated country. I am living in Germany now (a defeated and occupied country). We can do it, as long as we have the political backbone to do so. If our military (and leadership) have to contend with wishy-washy appeasement monkeys that want safety but don't want to get their hands dirty in the process, we will not be successful. Vietnam?

US soldiers are going to die in Iraq. That is a fact. Given the choice between soldiers dying in Iraq and civilians dying in NY (or Washington DC, Chicago, etc) I choose the soldier. At least it gives terror organizations something to focus on besides soft American homeland targets.
I would imagine that a military member dies daily in training or on exercises every day (or at least every week) OUTSIDE of Iraq. The Middle East is desperate for a self governing democracy and if we can help create on, so much the better.

The cost to rebuild Iraq is a mere fraction of what the aftermath of 9-11 cost us.

If Kerry gets in, the Terrorist win. Just like in Spain. I do not want a president that has to call Chirac to consult on ANYTHING let alone international affairs.

And Lastly.
Will the left quit whining about "there are dictators and human rights abuses all over the world and we do nothing about them because there is no economic reason…." You are just painting yourself in a corner.
1) WHEN we do decide to tackle THOSE regimes, you won't be able to be "against it" because you will have been on record as saying that we should have done it "all along".
2) IF we are going to deal with regimes, isn't it prudent to START with the ones that economically impact the US first?

Oh and M L I scored 42 on the Libertarian test.

Bush is a lying liar, and other truths

To support a recent post by the Minister of Agriculture, I'm providing this ever-so-fresh link to a compilation of Bush's most-recent lies, complete with footnotes.

Footnotes! Check it out, gentle readers.

Speaking of the Minister of Agriculture (and yes, while we are old friends, I did once address 'Smallholder' as 'Shareholer' and intend it as a sexual insult), I think I need to clarify a note from my own post to which he responded. When I said the sanctions against Iraq were working, I was referring only to Saddam's development of WMD's, specifically his failure to actually produce any. The system of inspections and sanctions, while far from perfect, met this goal, at least -- even the Bush-selected post-war inspector, David Kaye, concluded the same thing before quitting (one can muse that perhaps he quit in disgust after being told repetitively to find evidence of a program that in fact did not exist). Smallholder's suggestion that the sanctions were not working and that, instead, the invasion of Iraq should be seen as a 'humane' undertaking is another discussion entirely. (I'll slip in a first attack by adding that it's almost completely a philosophical/theoretical discussion, and dismissable if we're discussion actual policy: in practice we've ignored and continue to ignore many, many despotic regimes and human rights abuses that don't involve our geopolitical interests; I don't think it can suddenly become an issue with Iraq.)

And on a personal note: if readers are so inclined, do please send more fan mail concerning my postings directly to Maximum Leader. I suspect that a high profile on his site may be the only factor that prevents my immediate confinement to a reeducation camp (using the phrase 'Beloved Minister of Propaganda' in your e-mail is a nice touch, I think). I love my Maximum Leader, but that doesn't mean I want to be subjected to whatever passes for popular entertainment at his house.

Minion Mailbag

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader opened up his mailbox today and cried out "Great Jeezey Chreezey!" while doing his best James Mason impression. It is time for a Minion Mailbag!

First, allow your Maximum Leader to register his total disgust for certain minions who choose to heap fame and honours on his ministers (or one minister in particular) and not even give a semi-convincing complement to your Maximum Leader as an afterthought. Remember minions, it is the MIKE WORLD ORDER! That is your Maximum Leader's name you know, Mike. It is not the Smallholder World Order, or the Hominidal World Order... The Mike World Order. Your Maximum Leader now realizes that the early years of the MWO will be characterized by larger Re-education Camps than he first expected. Gonna have to do some housecleaning people... Ah well... Don't say your Maximum Leader didn't warn you.

So... On to message one from the Minion Mailbag. "Powermfm" writes:
That guy claiming not to be James Webb was pretty darn good! One little filip to his contribution . . . after being so Euro-centric for so many years and letting things get out of hand in the Middle East this country has lost its bases in Saudia and Turkey isn't so welcoming any more it was really rather kind of necessary to whup gluteus maximus in Iraq where the Big Bad Guy was actually the weakest murdering despot in the area. WMD was a smokescreen even a blind man could see. The most massively destructive weapons Saddam had consisted of tons and tons and tons of m-o-n-e-y. Shame, utter shame on gwb for the lying. Ditto Rumsfeld, Cheney, et al. That they do it at all is horrendous. That they do it so blatantly badly is super-horrendous.
Your Maximum Leader responds: THAT GUY WAS PRETTY DARN GOOD!!!! What is it about the Minister of Propaganda that just draws people to him?!?! He must have the "Kavorka." Women want him, and men want to be like him. It is crazy!

NB to other loyal minions: Does no other minister excite you all like the Minister of Propaganda? Do you not love your Maximum Leader? The Minister of Propaganda blogs once or twice over the span of a week or so. And just like that! Fan mail. Your Maximum Leader didn't get his first fan mail for more than two months after beginning his blog. (He got hate mail shortly thereafter.) Does your Maximum Leader have to hire Zogby or Morris to take a poll to see which of us is most loved? Has the Minister of Propaganda become the Sergey Kirov to your Maximum Leader's Stalin? Oh Despair! Perhaps the MWO housecleaning will start with our very own Minister of Propaganda! (Unless your Maximum Leader can find his price too... He found the Minister of Agriculture's...) But I digress...

To address the content of the minion's message, and by extension the Minister of Propaganda; did we go after the weakest murderous despot in the region? Your Maximum Leader isn't sure about that. He believes that most of those regimes are houses of cards that will collapse under a little pressure. As your Maximum Leader has said before, and will say again, WMD was not the only reason for invading Iraq. It was the one most easy to understand, and most readily reported. Did Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld lie? When dealing with intelligence matters it is hard to tell. What is clear is that the President and his advisors are going to stick to their guns on this. The intelligence at the time indicated that WMD were there. Intelligence is often unclear, and like any set of information (sometimes without full context) can be interpreted differently by sensible people.

The Minister of Propaganda did mention the UN inspectors were in Iraq, but that they were withdrawn before they could do their job. Your Maximum Leader stated that the Hussein regime did not make a reasonable effort to comply with UN resolutions. Your Maximum Leader admits now that he made a poor choice of words. Hussein let the inspectors in, but started the same song and dance routine that had gone on for decades before. Your Maximum Leader doesn't believe this is compliance. To keep this part shorter (and pithier), the UN is a process driven organization. Their inspectors would gladly have fallen into the same routine as before. Hussein would keep this up for as long as he could. Without US pressure, the routine could have gone on for more decades. That was not acceptable policy for the US after 9/11.

And to make a quick address to the very valid point of the M of P about the Army War College report. Your Maximum Leader read over the report. The important missing element is this, no military commander wants to occupy a foreign nation. The Army War College is making a valid and incomplete observation. Occupation doesn't run among the strengths of our military. Indeed, the US military's strengths are mobility and superior training and firepower. We are good at the "glory" aspects of war. We excel at making war. But, very importantly, the US has not fought any type of military action in over 100 years where we have not followed up combat by being an occupying power for a significant time. The Army War College should give this a little more thought - as should policy makers. If we fight wars, and then occupy countries; why do we only prepare to fight wars? Why don't we train for the other half of the war? If we don't know how to do it, we ought to learn awfully quick.

Now on to our second item in the minion mailbag...

This item comes from "Carpemundi." And guess what? It too is about the Minister of Propaganda's most recent post! What the hell is going on here? Two messages from different readers about the same post by the newest Minister! Stop the insanity! At least this one isn't all praise and support... Carpemundi writes:
Regarding the post 16 March:

America is the only superpower on the planet -- the only nation that has the reach and strength to change a government anywhere on the planet.

While thier direct military might does not compare, I think that close examination of the capabilities of the Chinese, especially in their intel, technology, and political weight, will reveal that they are indeed more powerful than anyone else on the planet (except the US) and may be the only country which we cannot defeat.

Your Maximum Leader responds: This is an excellent point. The last time he gave it much thought he determined that the US military had a significant advantage over the Chinese military in just about every single category, save two. The first was sheer manpower. This is a factor of population more than anything else. The second is political will. Now if you will forgive your Maximum Leader in advance, he is about to have a G. Gordon Liddy moment. The Chinese Communists have got more political willpower than we do. They are relentless in their aims. They are happy to take the time to plot and plan and wait until the moment is right. It is this political will that makes them very powerful indeed. A day will come where China will finally decide to take a stand for something they want. The "something" will likely be Taiwan. And the Chinese will, as John Derbyshire once wrote (and your Maximum Leader paraphrases), say they are annexing Taiwan and are prepared to fight over it. The US will say okay, we'll fight too if that's the way you want to be. Then the Chinese will calmly state that they are prepared to lose 6 major cities to win this fight. They will ask the US how many cities we are prepared to lose. And we will not know if they are bluffing. Your Maximum Leader is afraid of the outcome of that day.

But on a more positive note, Chinese society is changing and they are growing more fond of western consumerism. And war generally isn't good for shopping! So we can hope that the Chinese develop their own variant of the "mall-rat" subculture and lose their political will.

NB to Carpemundi from your Maximum Leader: When you choose to start blogging again regularly, please let your Maximum Leader know. It is always good to read your writings.

For some more pithy comments on the ongoing discussion here, check out the Big Hominid's recent "le paracours general."

Well loyal minions... That wraps up this Minion Mailbag. And what does your Maximum Leader have to show for it? Nada. Zip. Zilch. Rien. He thinks he will go and beat some dwarves.

Carry on.

March 16, 2004

Driveby Smallholder

In the tradition of America’s free, unlicensed gun ownership, I hereby offer these driveby shootings. I have several substantive things percolating in the back of my wee mind, but have no time to shake the lint out. So here is a quick fifteen minute blog:


The incoming Prime Minister has said that it was a mistake to JOIN America’s UNILATERAL war. Take a second and parse that sentence. I’ll wait.

At the polls, Spanish voters had to choose between peace and honor. They chose peace. They shall have neither.

* Extra credit to the first blogger who identifies the original speaker whose Munich quip is bowdlerized above. No, Maximum Leader, you can’t play.

Spain has now sent a giant signal to Al Queda: If attacked, we will retreat. Excellent plan, nimrods. It seems the enlightened European population has forgotten 1938. There mistake last time devastated the continent. We saved their bacon. The devastation this time may not be limited to Europe, but don’t expect this taxpayer to pony up for another Marshall Plan.

We can’t negotiate with Islamo-fascists. There is nothing we can do, not even abandoning Israel to the tender mercies of the genocidal Palestinians, that will appease these evil men. The success of our system gives the lie to their Koranocentric totalitatian fetishes. Societies based on individual freedom and mixed-economy capitalism (MOP, please note the qualifier) work better than societies based on Sharia. They HAVE to destroy us.

Like Lileks, I want to tell my daughter about how we won. I don’t want to bury her smallpox pustule-ridden body in the back forty. I’m not for futile appeasement. I’m for killing violent terrorists dead, dead, dead as quickly and efficiently as possible.

What scares me about Spain is that is will embolden the terrorists to repeat what has worked. My wife and I were thinking about accompanying the Maximum Leader on a pilgrimage to Sagamore Hill via the rail system. She turned to me last night and asked if I really wanted to take sweet little Emilie on a train. This prompted me to reply that worries like this might make me vote for Bush (See the Big Hominid’s site for the economy & social justice vs. security conundrum). She replied that that would be a divorce-level crime against humanity. But I guess that’s another story.


A while ago, Annika opined that the issuance of gay marriage licenses was exactly akin to Mullah Moore’s Ten Commandments crusade (forgive me, but I don’t know how to do trackback links). I believe she was dead wrong. The civil disobedience by the mayors of various cities was in accordance with the Constitution and Moore’s was in defiance of the Constitution. The difference between the two levels of civil disobedience is also made clearer that, when faced with a court ruling, the mayors DID desist. Did Moore also accept the rule of law?
Speaking of Gay Marriage

Perhaps Bush has unintentionally done justice a favor when he pandered to his right wing base. In coming out for a Constitutional Amendment, he acknowledged that the current marriage laws ARE currently unconstitutionally discriminatory. The Amendment will fail. And, having failed, the course of the rest of the debate is as foreordained as the failure of Massive Resistance to Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. We have won. It is all over but the shouting.


I read the good Professor’s blog nearly every day. He often posts intriguing, thought-provoking stuff. But his political blogs have become increasingly long on invective and short on the logic he values so highly. Recently, he admitted that he does at times propagandize. Propaganda doesn’t bother me. Blind partisanship does. He could use his persuasive powers to make an argument; he has challenged me to think and clarify my attitudes about meat production and consumption. Instead of making me think about politics, he is now just making me skip the political rants. A case in point is his Tech Central Station column about accusations of Presidential dishonesty. I would like to see him apply his standard, “falsehood with the intent to deceive” to current reports that Bush purposely suppressed information about the true cost of his Medicare bill and intentionally deceived members of Congress so they would vote for the bill.

A friend of mine recently criticized me for inveighing against Kerry. If Kerry is better for the country than Bush, he argued, I should use my (tiny and pathetic) platform to attack the President. Any acknowledgement of Kerry’s shortcomings would muddy the issues and perhaps sap the resolve of readers to displace the Commander-in-Chief. This would be moral; if the end (a Democratic president) was moral, then it was okay to self-edit in order to achieve that end. I’m not up on all the fancy philosopher lingo that Analphilospher likes to sling around, but would this be called act-consequentialism?

Perhaps Analphilospher has become an act-consequentialist on the issue of Bush’s re-election. He has decided that a Bush election is in the best interests of the country. He therefore willingly joins the elephant echo chamber and churns out blindingly uncritical arguments supporting the righteousness of the commander-in-chief. Most reader may drink the pap. But for many of us – those who like a more reasoned discussion - these hagiographic fan letters undermine the Professor’s credibility. Convince me, professor. Don’t snow me.

Speaking of Lying Presidents

How can anyone not see that Bush has lied repeatedly? Now, I’ll be the first to admit that Old Bill was allergic to the truth. But it just boggles my imagination that people seem to think Bush is honest. Take a look at his employment numbers. Take a look at his “no double-tax” crusade against the inheritance tax (which largely affects untaxed capital gains). Take a look at his repeated convention that the inheritance tax hits family farms (No farm has EVER been sold due to the inheritance tax. Some children did have to pay a tax when they took the farm and broke it up for development. But this tax was neither the cause of the end of the farm or a double tax). Take a look at the Medicare lie. Take a look at how he redefined small businesses to include partnerships so that he could claim his tax cut for the rich helped “small businesses” – including small businessmen like himself and his Vice President. Take a look at how he claimed that his tax cut would not go overwhelming to the rich. My God, if you really believe in tax cuts for the wealthy – and one can make an argument for it – make that argument. Don’t lie to us about who is going to benefit. Take a look at Bush’s claim that no one could have anticipated an airplane attack even though his own intelligence briefings were warning of just that attack. I don’t blame Bush for 9-11. In a free society, determined, evil men will be able to kill Americans. But to claim he had no idea? Blatant, verifiable lie.

One can argue about whether Bush or Clinton’s dishonesty is worse. But one side claiming the absolute moral high ground is ludicrous.

Minister of Propaganda

My childhood friend and I have differed on the Iraqi war from the beginning. I am beginning to think he was right in certain particulars when we considered the results of the half-assed reconstruction the Haliburton team is putting together. In the Smallholder World Order, we wouldn’t have cut taxes on the rich and would use that revenue for a modern Marshall Plan, which would rebuild Iraq on an unbelievable scale.

But I have to disagree with the MOP on the sanctions. They weren’t working. And they were resulting in terrible suffering (Saddam’s sins, not ours) as Saddam diverted all resources to fuel his military behemoth. Invading Iraq was MORE humane than leaving the people to Saddam’s tender mercies under the sanctions.

And does the MOP seriously believe that Saddam really intended to comply with an inspection regime?

As to planning the invasion, that planning began under Clinton. Hell, Clinton should have done it. It would have saved lives.

Maximum Leader

I well remember our college debating days. We went to a school that could be charitably described as a “second chance college for kids who partied too hard in high school.” Our peers weren’t particularly academically gifted folks. Discussion oriented philosophy classes and political science classes had lackluster student participation (with some notable exceptions, particularly our wonderful Laura and the Horseman of Famine). The ML and I dominated many of our classes. So, since there was little competition from our peers, we had to manufacture some. Mike would wait to see what side I took and take the other. But it wasn’t just fun. It is educational to argue for a position you oppose. It helps to examine your own assumptions and look closely at the other side’s position.

I stand prepared for return-fire.