Go to previous post:
Big talk.

Go to Electrolite's front page.

Go to next post:
Let facts be submitted to a candid World.

Our Admirable Sponsors

July 2, 2003

Someone’s awake. Regarding the astounding remarks of Mr. George W. Bush, quoted in the previous post, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) had this to say:
“I am shaking my head in disbelief. When I served in the army in Europe during World War II, I never heard any military leader—let alone the commander in chief—invite enemies to attack U.S. troops,” said Lautenberg in a statement.
I dunno, maybe the cautious diplomats who run the Democratic caucus in Congress forgot to give old Frank the memo. Or maybe he’s taking the same vitamin supplements as Bob Byrd. [05:19 PM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Someone's awake.:

Granny ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2003, 05:26 PM:

Well, golly, what do you expect? It is Dubya, ya know!!

Granny ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2003, 05:30 PM:

Wow ... did I just hear on the news???

That Ninny in the WH is thinking of sending 500,000 troups to Africa?

OMG

Nah, must have misheard, I hope.

Jon Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2003, 05:38 PM:

You misheard. It's from 500 to 1,000 troops, into Liberia.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2003, 06:25 PM:

He probably thought he was sending them to Libya, to take out Qadaffi.

Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2003, 06:31 PM:

Perhaps we're finally sending troops after Liberace. Pity he's already dead, I could have gotten behind that.

Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2003, 07:34 PM:

Maybe his earpiece was tuned to a Bruce Willis movie. Or maybe his handlers have decided he's outlived his usefulness, and they want him to go out in a blaze of stupidity. "I said what? I guess I wasn't listening."

John ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2003, 07:52 PM:

My god! Who created the directory structure at Byrd's senate website?

Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2003, 08:39 PM:

I think Bush wants to sound more like the fictionalized version of himself which appears in that Showtime hagiography. All heroic and stuff.

Melanie Mattson ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2003, 08:44 PM:

I just checked the websites: tomorrow's NYTimes is reporting it, WaPo is not. What liberal media?

David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 12:42 AM:

Jon, I think he’s thinking of this version.

Anthony VanWagner ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 06:17 AM:

"If the lull is to end, if the storm is to renew itself, we will be ready, will will not flinch, we can take it again.
We ask no favours of the enemy. We seek from them no compunction. 85We will have no truce or parley with you, or the grisly gang who work your wicked will. You do your worst85" - Winston Churchill

"We had the unmeasured menace of the enemy and their air attack still beating upon us, and you yourselves had had experience of this attack; and I expect you are beginning to feel impatient that there has been this long lull with nothing particular turning up!" 96 Winston Churchill to the Youth.

I have also noticed a great deal of worship for Robert Byrd from the Left lately. On war, wrote the Senator, he would never fight "with a Negro by my side. Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds."

Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 07:14 AM:

As someone who actually hails from West (by God) Virginia, Senator Byrd has been the best thing going for a long time now. The rest of the country just finally realized it recently when he was saying things no one else had the courage to say.

Regarding Senator Byrd's racist past, he has fully admitted it, and also said that he had a change of heart years ago. I notice that his detractors are more than willing to quote his Klan past, but unwilling to talk about his change of heart, or even admit that it's possible. If the country is willing to forgive the persident his past, why are they unwilling to do the same for others?

We love Senator Byrd because he does exactly what we elected him to do--look out for the people of his state, and stand up for what he believes. (You may also check his senate attendance record, and compare it to any other senator.)

I perfer to think that people pick on Senator Byrd, because they are jealous of us here in West (by God) Virginia, that we have two fantatic senators, when most people don't even have one decent senator.

Anthony VanWagner ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 07:31 AM:

A more recent quote: "There are white niggers. I've seen a lot of white niggers in my time. I'm going to use that word." - Robert Byrd.

Funny, I don't remember all this forgiveness going around when Trent Lott was in trouble. I wonder why.

Elric ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 07:47 AM:

I'm just happy to see signs that there are people on Capitol Hill who are still awake.

Jon Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 08:52 AM:

Anthony, it's worth noting that Lott wasn't run out of the Senate on a rail; he only resigned his leadership position (which is, I think, a good thing for the Republican party, as I question the leadership skills of someone who would open his mouth like that in front of a camera). So in that respect, he's no worse off than Byrd, who doesn't have any leadership positions at all.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 09:37 AM:

Anthony VanWagner wants to frame the issue as "worship for Robert Byrd from the Left," which is a nice way of dancing around the notable absence of worship in this particular forum. And he quotes some racist blithering from Byrd, remarking "Funny, I don't remember all this forgiveness going around when Trent Lott was in trouble. I wonder why."

I'm no great admirer of Byrd, but I think he's been right about several issues lately, and I've said so. If Trent Lott had spent the last two or three months inveighing against our misconceived entanglement in Iraq, I'd be giving him props, too. As it happens, Lott has been recently praised by several left-leaning bloggers, this one included, for his stand against the FCC media-consolidation ruling. Funny, I don't remember Anthony VanWagner making note of that. I wonder why.

As for Churchill, his brave words were spoken while sharing the dangers of air attack and imminent invasion with the rest of his countrymen. The fact that Anthony VanWagner doesn't perceive a difference between that and Bush's comments from a safe 6000 miles away pretty much says everything you need to know about modern right-wingers.

Larry Lurex ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 09:56 AM:

Strange chap Churchill. Conservative who came from the Liberal party, took over the reins after the previous Conservative Prime Minister tried to appease Hitler with the full backing of a Conservative media. Great orator.

As you say, the bombs rained down on him, too although his bomb shelter was probably deeper and better protected than most people's.

Compared to...a dyslexic who mis-speaks and has never known active service. Aha! The parallels are obvious! D'oh!

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 10:05 AM:

Hey. Don't you go dissin' no dyslexics. Some of the best writers and editors I know are dyslexic. Spelling is overrated as an intellectual skill.

Besides, I have no reason to believe GWB is one. He definitely shares his father's propensity to malapropisms, but he's managed to make a self-deprecatory schtick out of it, which speaks well for his political cunning--something that matters more than whether he can spell or not.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 10:17 AM:

Dubya is dysphonic.

And Anthony, please note that Trent Lott was talking about his opinion today of what happened all those years ago. I note in turn that you don't put a date on your "more recent" quote. Was it before or after Dubya's coke & DWI days?

Just asking.

Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 10:21 AM:

Andrew: If you care so much about Robert Byrd's utterances, I'm sure you happened to notice the context of his statement about "white niggers", in which he made it clear as he said it that in that statement he was not using "niggers" to mean "black people", and that he apologized immediately thereafter because he decided the comment was offensive no matter what his semantic intent.

And you might also have noticed that he was strenuously attacked for it, which is why you heard about it in the first place.

This puts it in a different category from, oh, Trent Lott's statements about Thurmond, for which he issued only a weak apology before realizing his goose was cooked, or for that matter Thurmond's statements about the Nigger Race, for which he never apologized in the short 55 years after he made them.

So, in other words, I am wondering if you think we're all stupid or if you just hope we are.

Matt Sturges ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 10:36 AM:

Looks like some Iraqis have already decided to take Bush up on his offer. Nice.

Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 10:48 AM:

Xopher, Sen. Byrd's recent comments were made in March of 2001. They were wrong, of course, but they let the wrong-wingers holler "Where's the outrage?" Never mind that there was plenty of it, from all sides.

This is wrong-winger tactic #5. Nobody opposed to them is ever, ever, allowed error. Any single error, or perceived error, will be held against you for the rest of your life. Now, if you are a wrong-winger, never mind. That merely "the indiscretion of youth" or some such.

But all of the above is meaningless.

What's really happening here is wrong-winger tactic #1. The discussion *was* about the unelected bastard daring the Iraqis to kill American troops. But, now, we're talking abou Sen. Byrd. How quickly we shift to the defense of someone else.

We *have* to stop this. Defense doesn't win. They keep throwing ripostes, and soon, we're back to the same "He didn't say that, he didn't do that," while the accusation gets played on the front page -- and the real crimes don't appear in the press at all.

Do not defend. Counterattack. Why the hell are you defending Byrd? The point, here, was what Shrub did, not what Byrd did -- yet, you all slip right into the "but that's not how it happened" mode, and soon, the whole conversation is now on how a democrat is or is not wrong, not on how Shrub is daring Iraqis to kill our soldiers.

HINT. That's exactly what the wrong-wingers want to happen. The more we argue about what a democrat did or did not do, the less we argue about what the GOP has done.

So, how many more graves will we dig for Americans, both servicemen and civilian, over this? How much longer will 3ID be residing in a 115F degree hell, where everyone's lining up to take potshots at them, while they have trouble getting enough parts to keep the armor running?

That's the point. American Soldiers being sent into hostile lands for no real reason other than to satisfy some bastard's machismo. And now that things are going completely bug-fuck, he's daring the Iraqis to step up the attacks.

That's the point. Not Senator Byrd. Quit letting the wrong-wingers write the scripts, dammit!


Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 11:07 AM:

Good points. Although actually, as I remarked on TalkLeft, I think even calling Bush's behavior "machismo" is giving him too much credit. You may not approve of the code of "macho," but at least it's a code. Bush isn't macho; he's a waverer, a sissy, and a fake.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 12:20 PM:

Erik: you're right. I take your chastisement as deserved and friendly.

PNH: I think the phrase "a closet wimp" might be useful.

Copeland Morris ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 12:54 PM:

What we have in George W. Bush is a case of arrested adolescence. "Bring 'em on", indeed.

Reimer Behrends ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 01:21 PM:

Larry wrote on Churchill: As you say, the bombs rained down on him, too although his bomb shelter was probably deeper and better protected than most people's.

Actually, British government buildings were target prime for German bombers. The House of Commons Chamber was completely destroyed by bombs in 1941, and the Lords got hit pretty severely, too, as were most of the buildings in the vicinity. There was nothing that Hitler would have loved more than killing Churchill. Let's say that while Churchill had a better bomb shelter, he also needed it.

Chuck Divine ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 02:17 PM:

Several years ago I was in London for a few days and had an afternoon to kill. One of the things I did was visit the Cabinet War Rooms. That's basically the bomb shelter where Churchill was supposed to stay. He did sleep there sometimes. They also had photographs of him standing on the roof of that and other buildings watching the RAF battle the Luftwaffe.

As far as I know, the only people who left London during WWII were children -- who were forced to go -- and soldiers -- who went to even more dangerous places than London.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 02:23 PM:

Chuck, there's a famous Blitz story about rescue workers digging a woman out of the rubble of her home. Unsure whether her husband was also under it, they asked her (frantically) where he was.

"Off fighting in Libya -- the coward!" she is said to have remarked.

Keith ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 02:59 PM:

Spelling is overrated as an intellectual skill.

As an aspiring author with a teacher for a mother who rode his back all through school about his spelling, I thank you, Patrick.

On Topic:

This little quote of Bush's, (along with the one where he whistfully longs for a US Dictatorship) should be plastered on bilboards, pasted up on walls and stuck to bumpers from now until election day. Tell it to everyone you meet this 4th of July who stares emptily while they wave their flags and blubber about how great a President we have.

This man is endangering not only the lives of our troops but us citizens as well. He must be stopped.

Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 03:01 PM:

PNH: I think the phrase "a closet wimp" might be useful.

I think he's just playing "Let's you and him fight," a despicable game when played out in families or business relationships. Played on the scale of geo-politics, it has a magnitude of wrongness for which I fail to find an adequate description.

Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 06:11 PM:

No, Patrick, I chose "machismo" quite deliberatly. Witness...

The Dictionary of Mexican Cultural Code Words reports "... machismo meant the repudiation of all "feminine" virtues such as unselfishness, kindness, frankness and truthfulness. It meant being willing to lie without compunction, to be suspicious, envious, jealous, malicious, vindictive, brutal and finally, to be willing to fight and kill without hesitation to protect one's manly image. Machismo meant that a man could not let anything detract from his image of himself as a man's man, regardless of the suffering it brought on himself and the women around him.

(http://www.zonalatina.com/Zldata77.htm)

Or...

Finally, emerging from this selfish stance comes the macho man's perspective on money. His money from his job is his own, all the more so if the 'woman' has her own job with which to pay for the running of the home budget. In his mind it is enough that he pay half the mortgage and his gas money. By his reasoning, if the wife is preparing the food, she should pay for it as well. Same for laundry, kid's clothes, medical and any other expense that infringes on his personal supply of cash for his own pleasures. Trust, sharing or providing are not words natural to his vocabulary and he will do so only under duress and sounding a loud horn as though he'd done some great humanitarian act. That failing he will expect to be reimbursed at some later time, with interest if possible.

(http://www.lifegoeson.net/MonkeyShines/machismo.htm)

That's the kind of machismo I've been exposed to repeatedly in my life (and there are bunches of Hispanics in both Chicago and St. Louis -- cities you can't get good tex-mex in, but you can get great interior Mexican.) Read that last link -- O'Reilly could publish it as "Shrub in a Nutshell."


PDM ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 06:38 PM:

***Wow ... did I just hear on the news???

That Ninny in the WH is thinking of sending 500,000 troups to Africa?

OMG

Nah, must have misheard, I hope.***

Sadly, you heard it correctly....at the urging of some "progressives," no less!!!

Smoking-gun proof that us lefties can be every bit as stupid and gullible as some of us accuse the great unwashed Amerikkkan masses.....


Anthony VanWagner ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 07:01 PM:

"We know that we may have to pay a heavy price for freedom. We will pay this price with a will. Whatever the price, it is a thousand times worth it. No matter what our enemies, in their desperation, may attempt to do to us- we will say, as the people of London have said, We can take it." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

And this sounds familiar:
"Our enemies are guided by brutal cynicism, by unholy contempt for the human race. We are inspired by a faith that goes back through all the years to the first chapter of the Book of Genesis: 'God created man in His own image.'

We on our side are striving to be true to that divine heritage. We are fighting, as our fathers have fought, to uphold the doctrine that all men are equal in the sight of God. Those on the other side are striving to destroy this deep belief and to create a world in their own image97a world of tyranny and cruelty and serfdom.

That is the conflict that day and night now pervades our lives.

No compromise can end that conflict. There never has been97there never can be97successful compromise between good and evil." - Both from Roosevelt's 9th State of the Union Message.

daveanjo ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 07:14 PM:

Maybe his earpiece was tuned to a Bruce Willis movie.

or his codpiece

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 07:40 PM:

Erik, I figured you chose "machismo" on purpose, and I'm not arguing with your definition of it at all. I'm suggesting that condemning Bush for macho swagger isn't the most effective way to land a blow. The real point is that he's a phony.

Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 08:12 PM:

Of course he is a phony. "Macho Swagger" is always phony. I know many people (and you know many of them also.) Some of them brag about how tough they are, how, of course, they'll be armed at all times, about how many years of martial arts they've taken, etc. etc. etc.

These people are universally wimps. Get them in a situation where they have to deal with real danger, and they will fail. Always. Bet on it. The whole *point* of machismo is being phony -- it is never showing that you are anything but "a real man."

Thus, of course Shrub is phony. Shrub is being macho. Real men would at least say "Come after me," not "I dare you to attack American kids in a desert 6000 miles away from me!"

Which is why the image of Shrub as a member of The Village People works. It's funny because it's true. Sing it, folks!

edub ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 09:41 PM:

Anthony VanWagner, God Bless you.

Between Churchill, Byrd, and Roosevelt, you about quoted the entirety of Western Democratic thought during the latter 20th century.

You must really be good at searching either Google or Bartleby.com.

Any thoughts about the topic at hand? Like whether Bush is encouraging Iraqis to attack Americans? Or whether Senator Lautenberg is out of line for his criticism? How about whether Bush deserves a wedgie?

An anxious nation is determined to ignore you otherwise. At least I am.

Anthony VanWagner ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 10:00 PM:

The quotes (and really they only scratch the surface with those particular leaders) should tell us that sentiments such as "Bring them on." are hardly new to warfare. In fact, some of the greatest leaders during WWII used this attitude. When Roosevelt (thousands of miles from the actual fighting) speaks of hundreds of marines sacrificing their lives in a particular battle, saying, we can take it and also that we should be prepared for further sacrifices, it simply reminds me of wartime rhetoric. Similar things have been said by W. This is nothing new.

edub ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 10:30 PM:

OK. The topic at hand is irrelevant. I thought so.

Thanks anyway.

Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 10:33 PM:

Anybody see any similarities between the FDR quotes (what, he's plural?) and Dubya's chicken posturing? Note how none of the historic quotes are inviting the enemy to keep killing draftees? I expect FDR really cared, and was careful not to suggest that we laugh at stuff like that. Words can have consequences.

Anthony VanWagner ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 10:40 PM:

Do you really think that if W. had said, we can take it, or do your worst, that you wouldn't be badmouthing him?

edub ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 10:43 PM:

Anthony, for the life of me, I can't figure out why you aren't badmouthing him.

Here's what you wrote earlier:

When Roosevelt (thousands of miles from the actual fighting)

Ok, I'll concede your point. Roosevelt was a coward. He should have been on Normandy, or at least at Pearl Harbor.

You quote Churchill way up the thread. Where did Chruchill spend the war?

CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 10:48 PM:

AvW: time for a reality check. The lines you quote were spoken to buck up an entire people, at a time long before proclamations of victory, expensively empty gestures thereto, etc. -- not months afterwards, when the U.S. was an occupying power facing an increasingly hostile population.

Time this week has several articles on Ben Franklin, including a hoax essay he published suggesting that ]Germany[ had colonized and defended England and would come over and take its rightful due, just as England was claiming and trying in America. The U.S. now finds itself in the position of the British: led by corrupt and unelected rulers and facing a population that doesn't accept its rules. (For a moment of black humor, consider Cosby's ancient routine "Toss of the Coin", in which -"the settlers get to wear anything they want and shoot from behind rocks and trees and everything, while the British have to wear red and march in a straight line."-) Current American generals seem more competent than most of the British commanders then, but the biggest difference between the leaderships is that Shrub isn't showing incipient biochemically-induced dementia -- he's already lost in his fantasies.

I wonder how many more body bags it would take for you to admit that the words were stupid rather than heroic? There was an officer quoted on NPR today as saying that all the treasures of the Iraqi national museum weren't worth a single military casualty; I wonder whether he thinks Shrub's standings are worth the deaths to come.

Anthony VanWagner ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 10:57 PM:

edub, you are joking. Right? I do not believe that Roosevelt, Churchill, or Bush are cowards. I believe they engaged in wartime rhetoric. If you believe that "Bring them on" (not to mention the whole context in which it was said), really means Bush wants our soldiers to be killed, I don't know what to say to you at this point.

edub ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 11:04 PM:

This is what you typed, not that I should have to reproduce it, since you said it yourself a few posts up:

When Roosevelt (thousands of miles from the actual fighting)

Then why, oh why, did you point out that Roosevelt was thousands of miles away from the actual fighting? Did your fingers slip? What did you mean?

Anthony VanWagner ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 11:12 PM:

Patrick writes: "As for Churchill, his brave words were spoken while sharing the dangers of air attack and imminent invasion with the rest of his countrymen. The fact that Anthony VanWagner doesn't perceive a difference between that and Bush's comments from a safe 6000 miles away pretty much says everything you need to know about modern right-wingers."

Bush and Roosevelt were far away from the fighting, but neither, in my opinion, were cowards. I don't want Presidents in the middle of combat really.

Anthony VanWagner ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 11:21 PM:

CHip, you make good points. I simply disagree. I believe W's remarks were neither stupid, nor heroic.

edub ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 11:23 PM:

So by equating Roosevelt with Bush you evade the Churchill comparison, while at the same time using someone who criticizes you to somehow defend your position?

Or have I got it backwards?

A pissing match with a conservative is like a staring contest with a pigeon. Even if you "win," the only thing you've beaten is a pigeon.

And I think more highly of PNH's blog, I really do, than to pollute it with blog-urine. Sorry. I don't feed the trolls, unless they actually say something refutable, but eventually circular logic makes my head spin.

Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 11:44 PM:

The point you seem to be missing, Anthony (and to be fair, it's a point a lot of people are missing all over the place) isn't that W coughed up some militant rhetoric, it's that his *exact choice of words* was stupid and irresponsible. There is quite a difference between the "our soldiers are tough and our nation is determined; we can endure whatever challenges lie ahead and then some" boilerplate (which was heard eight million times in different variations back in WWII) and "Go on, attack us. We dare you."

The President's actual quote was:

"There are some who feel like that [sic] conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring them on. We have the force necessary to deal with the situation."

Now, imagine that President Bush had said:

"There are some who feel like that conditions are such that they can use weapons of mass destruction against U.S. cities. My answer is, bring them on. We have the disaster response resources to deal with the situation."

Or, imagine that Winston Churchill had said:

"The Germans seem to feel that they can kill a great many Londoners with their new V-weapons. My answer is, bring them on. Londoners are having new children at a rate more than adequate for population replacement."

Does that help throw it more sharply into contrast?

There is a clear difference between statements of confidence (even arrogant ones, even *militant* ones) and an outright invitation to "bring it on." The proper rhetorical phrasing makes it seem that the speaker actually cares about his grunts in the field (or his civilians in the line of fire); the improper phrasing makes them seem inconsequential, and that's the salient point.

Part of the President's duty, as CinC of the armed forces, is to *never insult or marginalize* the men and women in those armed forces. Damage to morale means damage to effectiveness (personal and unit), and that ultimately means a higher rate of deaths and injuries for those in the field.

John Q. E-3 in his foxhole somewhere near Baghdad probably won't sprout wings and fly because the President says he and his buddies are kick-ass troops, but I can *guarantee* that he doesn't like hearing that his death would be a-ok because there's plenty of replacements on hand.


Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2003, 02:54 AM:

Hey, look! They "brought it on!"

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20030704/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_attack&cid=540&ncid=716

I bet those 19 soldiers are just *shitting sunshine* 'cause we have "the force necessary to deal with the situation." I would be very happy to find out tomorrow that's 19 injured, none dead.

Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2003, 08:20 AM:

Sorry; the New York Times says there was at least one dead.

But these things don't count unless they are combat deaths, of course.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2003, 11:15 AM:

Thank you Scott. I think everyone was arguing at cross-purposes until your clarification...there's a scene in Three Sisters where two characters are arguing about whether a particular thing is a kind of onion, or a kind of soup (IIRC). They are completely unaware that they are arguing the meaning (singular) of two different words.

Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2003, 06:16 PM:

Andrew Sullivan on the topic at hand:

Thursday, July 03, 2003

"BRING THEM ON": No, I don't think it's merely rhetoric. One of the many layers of the arguments for invading Iraq focused on the difficulties of waging a serious war on terror from a distant remove. Being based in Iraq helpsus notonly because of actual bases; but because the American presence there diverts terrorist attention away from elsewhere. By confronting them directly in Iraq, we get to engage them in a military setting that plays to our strengths rather than to theirs'. Continued conflict in Iraq, in other words, needn't always be bad news. It may be a sign that we are drawing the terrorists out of the woodwork and tackling them in the open.

Further the deponeth saith not.

Yehudit ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2003, 03:31 AM:

"As for Churchill, his brave words were spoken while sharing the dangers of air attack and imminent invasion with the rest of his countrymen."

We on American soil are still in danger of attack and invasion, albeit in much more stealthy ways and by much smaller groups of people.

Scott, you are comparing apples and oranges. Bush was talking about combat troops in the field, not civilians - if he or Churchill had made the statements you imagined, they would have been inappropriate.

"Hey, look! They "brought it on!""

They were already bringing it on, Scott. Do you really think the fedayeen and Ba'athist guerillas who have been fighting since the end of the war are suddenly operating on Bush's orders?

"As far as I know, the only people who left London during WWII were children -- who were forced to go -- and soldiers -- who went to even more dangerous places than London."

Not true - thousands of civilians - including my mother and grandmother - left London during the Blitz to live in towns in the countryside for the duration (my mother and her mother went to Cheltenham, where my grandmother stayed till she died in the 1970s).

Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2003, 08:43 AM:

You know, Yehudit, I'm a believer that soldiers go into battle to kill or be killed. I find the awestruck horror in the US when an American soldier is killed (combined with the benign indifference when a non-American soldier is killed, and the outright hostility towards foreign civilians killed by US soldiers to save soldier's lives) more than a little distasteful.

But no good commander ever ups and tells the soldiers under his (or her) command, that their job is to get killed for their country and it's okay because their country has lots more of them to replace them. It may be - and usually is - perfectly true: the US does have a lot of soldiers to replace killed, and a lot more citizens of the right age to be drafted.

But it's still a stupid and unfeeling thing to say, and I'm at a loss why you're trying to defend Bush saying it.

Anthony VanWagner ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2003, 11:56 AM:

"...their job is to get killed for their country and it's okay because their country has lots more of them to replace them."

When did Bush ever say this?

Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2003, 06:36 PM:

"The object of war is not to die for your country, but to make the other bastard die for his." Gen. George S. Patton

Veering back to the conversation at hand: SUBTEXT!

What we say is not merely the words we utter, but the connotations and context in which they are delivered. Only autists, as far as I can tell, are completely blind to subtext. The rest of us are more or less sensitive to it, and it is certainly possible to misinterpret subtext, what with it not being in words, and all.

Bush sounds like a cowboy, like somebody who's issuing a personal challenge, a swaggering, gun-toting, hard-drinking cowboy who's asking another poker player to step on outside. The point is, it's not his hide that's on the line, and that's why it offends so many people. Issuing what sounds like a personal challenge when other people will be doing the fighting and the dying, is rude, and seems to devalue the soldiers actually doing the work.

I understand that some large number of soldiers probably think it's a fine phrase. The military culture has not a little machismo. Military culture, also, has not a little of the tradition of bitching in the ranks about how the brass shoves them into untenable situations for nothing but the honor and glory of the brass. They don't like that one bit. Bush's remarks utterly fail to give any leadership, encouragement, or even acknowlegement to those soldiers who are battle-weary and home sick, and we have a lot of those guys in Iraq, too. Morale is, so I'm told, vital to every fighting unit. How were Bush's remarks good for morale? Morale other than Bush's, I mean.

Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2003, 02:35 PM:

Anthony, how else do you interpret Bush's words: "There are some who feel like that conditions are such that they can attack us there," Bush told reporters at the White House. "My answer is bring them on."

Anthony VanWagner ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2003, 05:36 PM:

Translation: We have a strong military. Our enemies will get their asses kicked. He has confidence in us.

These are not my words, but the words of a man who currently serves in the Army commenting on what Bush said.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2003, 08:36 PM:

Nonetheless, AVW, our interpretation is widespread. It was stupid and thoughtless of him not to consider it.

Is the man you quote a pal of yours in the rank and file? As opposed to a member of the Army brass acting as a spin doctor? Or something in between?

Anthony VanWagner ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2003, 08:44 PM:

Not a pal. It was on KSTP. I don't know his rank, but I doubt he was brass.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2003, 09:09 PM:

Was this talk radio? A guest or a caller? Or was it someone they interviewed in Iraq?

I'm sure you see why I'm asking.

Anthony VanWagner ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2003, 09:57 PM:

I do. No, they were not in Iraq. There were several callers who said they were active duty military, and they all supported the President. Although, if you think there aren't a lot of people just like them in Iraq, I would say you are dreaming. Honestly, most of the people who are upset by this are on the Left. And I really don't think this effects the war one way or another. It's just another issue people are trying to beat Bush with.

David Bilek ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2003, 10:06 PM:

The blogger known as LT Smash is active duty and serving in Iraq. He commented on Bush's statements:

"George W. Bush is President of the United States, and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. He is our leader. He sets the tone for every man and woman in uniform. If the President says we are a bunch of bad-asses, then that is the attitude we will adopt. It sure beats the heck out of the alternative.

Meanwhile, President Bush is taking some heat for these remarks, being accused of using 93shoot-from-the-hip lines,94 with some urging him to bring the troops home 93as soon as possible.94

His response: 93We're not leaving until we accomplish the task.94

How refreshing."

LT Smash doesn't seem too upset by Bush's statement.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2003, 12:58 AM:

Incidentally, guys, note how thoroughly you've let the pro-war, right-wing commenters set the terms of the discourse in this exchange.

Nice job. Learned anything?

Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2003, 05:53 AM:

David, Anthony, I think you're missing the point.

The point is that Bush said something appalling and stupid. We're all used by this time to pro-war rightwingers leaping to his defence no matter what he does or says, endeavouring to claim that what he said is really jolly good, but though you can spray perfume on shit, it's still shit.

John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2003, 09:32 AM:

I'd argue that what Bush said was inappropriate, too, although I am intrigued by David Warren's take (via Instapundit and Sullivan). That is, that the Admin wants to draw as much concentration and resources of the terrorists to Iraq and away from their standard targets.

Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2003, 01:03 PM:

The idea that "the terrorists" will be drawn to Iraq as by flypaper is really just so damned dumb that I can't believe anyone wasted electrons posting about it, but then again, here I am, posting about it.

It presumes that the people attacking US soldiers in Iraq are "the terrorists", rather than (as I think extremely likely) pissed-off Iraqis. The idea that "the [US] soldiers are now replacing targets that otherwise would be provided by defenceless civilians, both in Iraq and at large" is just bizarre: I have no better word for it. The whole theory is senseless, based on the idea that "the terrorists" are a unitary group who want to attack the US and will be drawn to attack US soldiers as flies to flypaper.

It's stupid, but it's also dangerous.

The only way to get rid of terrorism is to figure out what is making kids grow up to be terrorists and to change it. Whereas what David Warren appears to want to think is that we don't have to think about why terrorism exists, all the various different political, national, religious, and humanitarian reasons why people decide that there is no other (or no better) way to accomplish what they want except by using force and violence illegally. It's not as easy, and it's not as much fun as just dismissing them all as "the terrorists" but it's the only way that the "war against terrorism" is ever going to come to a successful conclusion.

Donald Johnson ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2003, 01:07 PM:

PNH, notice how you've let rightwingers set the tone in this comment section. Learn anything?

Sarcasm aside, I agree with your general point, but am unclear what you advocate as a remedy.

John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2003, 02:52 PM:

Well, it may be wrong, Yonmei, as you argue, but I don't see at all, you're passion aside, that it's dumb.

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2003, 04:25 PM:

John --
It's plenty dumb.

It's got (at least) three major mistakes in it, viz.


  1. it assumes that the local supply of people to shoot at american soldiers is less than the supply of soldiers

  2. it assumes that the primary constraint on terrorism in America is the availability of people willing to pick up a Kalishnakov in, or near to, their native habitation

  3. it presumes that the Anglo-American presence in Iraq may establish legitimacy in the eyes of Iraqis by means of an increasing, protracted, and ever less precise process of slaughtering armed opposition

Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2003, 04:48 PM:

Incidentally, guys, note how thoroughly you've let the pro-war, right-wing commenters set the terms of the discourse in this exchange.

Nice job. Learned anything?

Um, not yet. Or rather, I haven't learned how to avoid it. I _meant_ to say that Bush was a wimpy little shit who was using macho language to make himself look good, without any regard to the troops. I didn't manage to say that, did I? I'd also like to point out that the same people who called Clinton a draft-dodger and claim that he was not fit to be the C-in-C because of his lack of military experience are lining right up behind His Fraudulency, although Bush's military record is no better than Clinton's really. Bush saw no combat and did the next best thing to going AWOL when the going got a bit...rough? _This_ is the guy we're trusting to take us through the difficult times ahead?

Here's what I can't seem to deal with. If I lay it all out like that, I hear myself sounding shrill and insane. (Nevermind that it's truth, it still sounds insane.) The pro-war commentators attack me for my lack of civility and my shrill, crazy tone. If I post careful, nuanced, polite responses, none of the things I'm saying really shine forth. It's easy to ignore any accusations I make, it's easy to side-step any issues I raise. The tone is too civil, it is impossible to say things like, "Bush is a coward," when I write in that style.

Here's another thing I tried to say, and failed to. Many of the guys in uniform are going to say that they like the way Bush talks. That is not a good measure of whether or not Bush's rhetoric is appropriate. The guys in uniform almost _have_ to believe in Bush, no matter what. He's their lifeline home.

My concern with Bush's language is what it suggests about his underlying principles and world view. I don't expect terrorists to give a wet slap what Bush says about where they should attack. I _do_ care that my president is a pussy.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2003, 05:15 PM:

The pro-war commentators attack me for my lack of civility and my shrill, crazy tone.

In many (though not all) cases, that's one of their canned responses to arguments that have struck home, but which they don't know how to counter.

Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2003, 05:21 PM:

LT Smash doesn't seem too upset by Bush's statement.

LT Smash may not represent the entire active military in Iraq. I spent some time Thursday talking over the phone with Terry Karney, who's been shipped home from Iraq on a medical. Terry was less thralled with the remarks of ROTUS.

As a side note, Terry also happened to have the hard copy of the ARMY TIMES opinion piece that magically disappeared from the website, for further confirmation of its existence, should anyone have doubted.

--Ulrika

Doug Rivers ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2003, 05:29 PM:

Retired after 28 years in the AF and I appreciate the CinC's remarks. So does every other blue suiter I know. Its called fighting spirit. The troops need it and want it. They do not want a commander who "feels their pain". If you don't want fighting spiirt, then don't have soldiers.

And whoever equated Pres. Clinton's "service" record with Dubya's doesn't understand. Try flying a fighter sometime and then take a friendly trip to Oxford. Then, after cleaning out your pants, compare. See what I mean.

Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2003, 05:49 PM:

And whoever equated Pres. Clinton's "service" record with Dubya's doesn't understand. Try flying a fighter sometime and then take a friendly trip to Oxford. Then, after cleaning out your pants, compare. See what I mean.

I do. I assume that this is one reason why since Bush wasn't bright enough to go to Oxford, he avoided flying fighter planes by going AWOL.

Simon ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2003, 08:05 PM:

Try flying a fighter sometime and then take a friendly trip to Oxford. Then, after cleaning out your pants, compare. See what I mean.

Ooh, this swaggering posturing makes my heart go pitter.

Sure, flying a fighter plane even in peacetime conditions takes skill and guts.

But if we're going to be issuing admiration of courage and heroics, why don't we save it for those who actually volunteered for the combat going on at the time?

And while we're spreading out the admiration, how about a little of it for those who refused to fight? They risked calumny, exile, jail, none of which are picnics either.

Clinton's no shining example in that department, but then, hey, Bush is no shining example of a Vietnam-era vet, either.

Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2003, 08:34 PM:

Dammit, Simon! Why must you allow rational analysis to interfere with my favorite off-topic Right-Left party game of all time? To wit:

"If you simply disregard everything that was obviously, screamingly wrong with the guy, Clinton was way cooler than Bush!

"No way! If you just totally ignore everything that's obviously, horribly phony and distorted about the guy, Bush is way cooler than Clinton!"

I mean, you can keep it going for *weeks.* It's like playing a game of Pong, for free, over the internet (and about as meaningful):

Lefty: "Plink!"

Righty: "Plonk!"

Lefty: "Beep!"

Righty: "Boop!"

Lefty: "Squeep!"

Righty: "Squirp!"


Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2003, 07:35 AM:

Scott: the pong game reminds me of this.

John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2003, 10:42 AM:

Clinton's no shining example in that department, but then, hey, Bush is no shining example of a Vietnam-era vet, either.

Exactly. But did they have to be? I'm thinking that a person's service or lack thereof 20 to 30 years before serving as President doesn't mean a heck of a lot. I was surprised but happy that Clinton went into the Balkans. It may have been late, but it was the right thing to do. With or without the UN.

Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2003, 11:12 AM:

Yes, it does indeed take a lot of fighting spirit to go AWOL for a year and then try to capitalize on one's "service record" by pretending to be responsible for a carrier landing he wouldn't have been qualified to fly when he was last in "service," having been grounded for refusing to take a drug test. It takes a lot of fighting spirit to have people in service who refuse to delete, cover, obscure, or outright lie about your record shuffled off to obscure hardship duties and then, when they catch a terminal disease there, do everything in your power to deny them their rightful medical benefits. It takes a lot of fighting spirit to delay an entire carrier of sailors and marines from a timely homecoming in order to shoot yourself a Top Gun teevee commercial for your re-election campaign. It takes a lot of fighting spirit to wrap yourself in the flag and claim to support our troops while baldfacedly cutting or attempting to deny benefits and pay increases to active and retired military. But you know, I think it's both the wrong fight, and the wrong spirit, to make a good a good CinC. If you're dumb enough to buy the sizzle while he eats the stake, there's a word for you: dupe.

Jeff Crook ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2003, 11:20 AM:

Maybe his earpiece was tuned to a Bruce Willis movie.

Actually, I think he was watching Star Wars...

Han - Bring 'em on! I prefer a straight fight to all this sneakin' around.

I am beginning to think that the military planners didn't learn a thing from Vietnam. The right wing convinced itself a long time ago that the reason we lost in Vietnam was because of commie hippy pinkos marching in the streets to the tune of the liberal media that brought down a great man like Richard Nixon. If not for the liberal media, we'd have won. Or so the thinking goes. So what did they do? They bought up the liberal media so that they could involve us in quagmires from here to eternity.

Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2003, 12:12 PM:

Jeff, it's worse than that: I recently discovered (and was rendered speechless both by astonishment and mirth) that some American right-wingers have actually convinced themselves that the US won the Vietnam war.

Simon ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2003, 02:39 PM:

Yonmei: Oh, really? What was their reasoning, if it can be called that?

Great amusement can be had by watching a US right-winger and a Canadian argue over who won, and who lost, the War of 1812.

Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2003, 04:15 PM:

Simon, I'm reluctant to call it "reasoning", but as far as I remember the process was:

1. The objective in fighting the Vietnam war was to prevent the spread of communism in Asia.

2. Most Asian countries did not "go communist".

3. The objective of the Vietnam war was therefore accomplished.

4. When you succeed in accomplishing the objective for which you fought the war, this is called "victory".

5. Therefore, whatever it might look like to traitorous liberal academics, the US won the Vietnam war.

If I were American I might not think this was so funny. (For that matter, looking at the wars currently being fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, I'm not so sure I think it's funny now.) But it seemed like a hoot at the time.

Simon ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2003, 06:58 PM:

Yonmei, that's what I believe is called Lion Powder reasoning. (Lion Powder keeps lions away. You don't see any lions around, do you? That proves it's working.)

John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2003, 09:36 AM:

Graydon,

Looks like you're right. Iran it seems is drawing a lot of the thugs for its own purposes:

"New security forces have been recruited. Lacking confidence in the willingness of Iranians to beat and kill their own, the regime has brought in Lebanese Hezbollahi, members of the Badr Brigades from Iraq (where they'd been dispatched as part of the "insurgency" against American forces), the usual "Afghan Arabs," and, reportedly, Palestinian toughs. All reminiscent of the Chinese tactics in Tiananmen Square, where they imported soldiers from remote regions to suppress the pro-democracy uprising."

Johnathan Pearce ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2003, 10:41 AM:

You Bush-haters are so predictable. When he said "bring em on" to the types trying to restore Saddam, it was no more than a statement that the US forces - would be happy to deal with these thugs in the open. It's not just macho grandstanding.

If Clinton had said the same thing none of the usual peacenik crowd would have cared less. Try thinking out of the box occasionally - it can be quite refreshing, you know.

Jon Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2003, 12:06 PM:

Speaking of predictable.

CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2003, 03:22 PM:

John: considering that report (of imported thugs) comes from the National Review and promotes their party line, how much confidence do you have in it? It's certainly not impossible; I can't vouch for his statement about Tiananmen Square, but I've read reliable reports that the troops that crushed the Prague Spring were brought in from the far east to avoid local sympathies.

I also wonder if imports would not be obvious (and hence watched for and targeted). Iranis are not Arabs (as some Arabs have been at pains to point out); are the phenotypes mixed enough that (e.g.) Lebanese would not stand out?

I have no more sympathy for the mullahs than I do for anyone else claiming to have a special understanding with/of The Great Wazoo -- but I'm wondering whether the mullahs are really as unsupported as the NR makes them out to be.

Doug Rivers ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2003, 04:14 PM:

General Franks has come out and basically echoed President Bush's fighting remarks. Hmmm. As I said, the soldiers get it.

The surest way for us jack-booted right wingers to get our way is for the left to stay mired in that hate-Bush fever swamp. Go HoDean!

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2003, 08:48 PM:

The soldiers getting it is one thing; if General Franks is not being stupidly loyal, he's demonstrating that he's unfit for command.

The mission is 'peace and security'; you don't get that by issuing challenges to prove how tough you are to miscellaneous justly angry groups of people in the country you have an obligation to govern.

Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2003, 05:42 AM:

Graydon, in point of fact, General Franks is no longer the commander responsible for governing Iraq: he was replaced a few days ago. So he can loyally and safely echo Bush's request that the Iraqis "bring it on": he's not in Iraq any more.

Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2003, 11:41 AM:

General Franks has come out and basically echoed President Bush's fighting remarks. Hmmm.

Franks barks on command. Yep, that's a shocker all right. But not all the troops are so credulous, nor the generals so spineless, as you might wish or imply.

Doug Rivers ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2003, 12:21 PM:

Franks is a bright guy. He didn't have to say it. Get over it. You guys are wrong on this one. Pick another issue. Sorry.

Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2003, 12:29 PM:

Dougs, the odd thing is, I agree with everything you said.
Franks is a bright guy.
Yes. The mess he left in Iraq has less to do with his personal abilities and more to do with being given an impossible job by Donald Rumsfeld.

He didn't have to say it.
No, I don't suppose anyone put a gun to his head. But someone's head is going to roll for the mess in Iraq: will it be the loyal general who barks on command, or the disloyal general who tells the President where to get off?

Get over it. You guys are wrong on this one.
Indeed you are, and I'm really not sure why it matters to you so much to defend a stupid comment that Bush made. Why not just admit that it was a dumb thing to say, and...
Pick another issue. Sorry.

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2003, 12:37 PM:

Wrong about what?

George W. Bush claims, publically and repeatedly, that the US has invaded Iraq to bring freedom and prosperity to the people of Iraq.

George W. Bush then says, about the portion of the people of Iraq who are shooting at the US troops in place, bring it on.

It doesn't take any complex analysis skills or even particularly detailed knowledge of the history of guerilla wars to recognize that shifting the definition of enemy to "anyone who shoots at us" is in conflict with that first, peace-and-prosperity objective up there; Dubya has been suckered into making a statement of policy, a very public statement of policy, that moves enemy from "Saddam Hussein, plus minions" to the people of Iraq. ('cause, let's face it, the US military isn't able to tell the factions apart in real time, and the factions doing the shooting are plenty smart enough to exploit this.)

He probably doesn't think of it that way, but not noticing that this is the equation he's making doesn't recommend him less than the deliberate choice of policy would.

Identifying 'they're shooting at me' with 'enemy' is a fine and correct thing for a fire team leader to do; it's understandable but not ideal in a junior officer. It's a disaster in high command.

Doug Rivers ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2003, 05:43 PM:

Wrong about it being a stupid statement. Wrong about it being some politically charged booby trap. Not so. This isn't the killer issue you wish it to be. He was conveying a message to the troops, who were and are going in harm's way. They understand and appreciate. Disagree with him all you want about Iraq -there's plenty of room for reasonable disagreement there- but inflating this little pat on the rump to the troops won't hurt him with middle America.

Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2003, 05:49 PM:

Maybe W could use this brilliant bon mot in other situations, too!

Abortionists! "You think you're so hot. Well, we can always make more, so bring it on!"

Criminals! "You just keep killing people. Well, I have the Secret Service, so bring it on!"

Weather! "You hurricanes think you can just blow the hell out of our cities. But we can build more cities, so bring it on!"

Only I expect he'd be upset if you egged the bolts that hold the wings on Air Force One to let go while he was in it. Hey, you want to jinx us?!

Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2003, 05:57 PM:

Franks is a bright guy.

Even bright enough, perhaps, to have noticed that the Arbustista m.o. is to leave anyone who doesn't back them 100%, all the time (and even some who do), twisting in the wind, pendant from their own entrails, the next time they need a fall guy, for instance? Tommy Franks is smart enough to know that under this administration dissenters get slapped down, and his job is to suck Presidential dick 24/7. He's smart enough to know that when the Whitehouse makes asshole remarks, the chorus backs them up in four part harmony until the official story changes. He "didn't have to say it" in the same sense that he doesn't have to have a job next year, or once he retires.

Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2003, 07:01 PM:

Doug, of course it was a stupid statement. For pragmatic reasons why it was stupid, see
Graydon's explanation (posted on July 10, 2003 12:37 PM): and I'm sure you can understand why it sounds stupid for someone safe and thousands of miles off to invite attack on troops closer to hand. He's conveying the wrong message to the troops, as Graydon explained: the point of the Iraqi invasion was supposed to be that the Iraqis are not the enemy.

It only becomes a killer issue because, for some reason, instead of simply acknowledging that it was a stupid thing to say but that everyone says stupid thoughtless things once in a while, some conservatives want to find increasingly tenuous justifications why it wasn't stupid: which just makes them look like clones who can't lift their noses from the party line.

Doug Rivers ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2003, 10:23 AM:

Agree 100% that it sounds stupid to you and many others who are, perhaps, left of center and have not spent a lot of time around the military. I understood it the minute I heard it, just as I understood the pride in the faces of those servicemen and women when he landed on the carrier. Different paradigms.
Time will tell if my assessment that it is much ado about nothing is correct.
Go Hodean!

Ulrika ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2003, 05:14 PM:

Doug-

I am not particularly left of center, and I've spent lots of time around military folks. Pick a service, I have friends there. I have one friend freshly back from Iraq. I tell you true, you do not speak for the entire military, and you're engaging in magical thinking if you imagine you do. Not everyone in the military is a vapid jingo, and you insult them to portray them as such. No doubt the folks who were pissed at being separated from their families for extra days due to the grandstanding of a AWOL poser weren't allowed in front of the cameras much. Funny that.

Ulrika ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2003, 05:14 PM:

Doug-

I am not particularly left of center, and I've spent lots of time around military folks. Pick a service, I have friends there. I have one friend freshly back from Iraq. I tell you true, you do not speak for the entire military, and you're engaging in magical thinking if you imagine you do. Not everyone in the military is a vapid jingo, and you insult them to portray them as such. No doubt the folks who were pissed at being separated from their families for extra days due to the grandstanding of a AWOL poser weren't allowed in front of the cameras much. Funny that.

Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2003, 05:28 PM:

He was conveying a message to the troops, who were and are going in harm's way. They understand and appreciate.

I'm happy to believe your assessment in the second sentence of the above. However, he wasn't speaking to the troops, he was speaking to the reporters at the White House, that is to say, not only the troops, but a hundred times more people who are not in the military, but who are responsible for our President's actions, and to those allies and enemies who are subject to the consequences of his actions, words being among them.

There's a reason why everything a president says in public is news. That's because it's news. It gives people who aren't on the inside information about his intent and his reasoning and his plans. It is one of the ways in which our country talks to other countries. It is the primary way in which our government talks to its citizens. It's an important channel of communication. Bush should know this, and should speak to the media accordingly. Had he made that same set of remarks in a speech to the troops on a carrier, or in a military camp, it would have been a very different matter. However, for us poor stupid civilians out here, Bush looked like a swaggering bully boy who hides behind his mother's skirts when someone actually strikes back. This is not a good image for us, or the world to have of our President. Granting that every military and ex-military person understood him, what percentage of the populace is that? Is it as much as 1%?

Doug Rivers ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2003, 05:38 PM:

AWOL poser? Vapid jingo? Does this mean I won the debate? Have a good weekend.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2003, 06:16 PM:

Aaaaaugh!

Jesus fucking green spastic Christ on a Heathkit hovercraft, Patrick, you were right!

Is there anyone out there who really thinks the important thing here is whether or not Bush said a smart or stupid thing, or whether he was addressing his comments to the soldiers or the press? Is that really what this is about?

Or is this about how a pampered aristocrat who used family influence to get out of dangerous military service is making glib, faux-macho comments that he knows he, personally will never have to back up, while he cuts the military benefits of the folks who will? That he's lied his way into a war that will eat hundreds (if we're lucky) or thousands of lives before it's done so that he'll have some nice photo-backdrops for his next cycle of campaign ads? That every article the press runs about his blowhard pseudo-Rambo strutting is an article they're not running about how he lied in his State of the Union address, or how Iraq doesn't seem to be getting any closer to being a democracy, or how the US is consulting with the Taliban about how to run Afghanistan?

Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2003, 04:49 PM:

Does this mean I won the debate?

Looks more like you've run out of rhetorical steam and are now grasping at straws to get out of it. Hunting for excuses to claim insult sure makes it look that way. In fact, merely being AWOL, and a poser, is decidedly milder than the accusations I've heard directed at Bush from serving military folk. "Desertion in time of war," comes nearer the mark. You keep wanting to portray the military in terms of a dew-eyed bunch of pro-presidential automatons, but my contact with real military personnel suggests otherwise. More tedious bluff and bravado about that just suggests you don't actually have anything more to say. Another surprise.

dave heasman ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 01:00 PM:

Churchill made pretty good morale-raising speeches. The armed forces in general admired his indomitability and he was an effective morale-raiser. They voted him out of office by a landslide when they came home, or asked their families to if they were still stuck out there. They didn't trust a Conservative with their jobs, schools, homes and welfare.
I see Bush is cutting military benefits....

Doug Rivers ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 04:45 PM:

I like Bush, but, hell, lets not compare him to Churchill - yet.

And I guess we need to keep Bush around for four more then, because the war on terrorism is ongoing. Once its won, say after Jeb's eight years, we'll let a moderate southern democrat (the only kind that can get elected) have four years to drive the misery index off the charts.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 05:22 PM:

Doug, your chart must be bigger than mine.

Simon ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 08:28 PM:

What bothers me are the fantasies of anyone who thinks the war on terrorism will be "won" if we can just have 16 years of Bushes.

We're going to be fighting terrorism as long as the U.S. is around (the Jefferson administration fought a war against what today would be called terrorists), and fighting it by adopting a strategy of pushing the world around by being the biggest kid on the block only looks like a winning strategy if you're the bully. From anyone else's perspective, it'll only make them fight harder - and dirtier. We can't win it that way by any policy much less fierce than "nook 'em all." (And no, Gary Farber, that doesn't mean I actually advocate doing so.)

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2003, 11:25 AM:


I suppose I should just write this thread off as dead, but having been referred to, I suppose my actual thoughts on the matter might be worth posting.


Churchill, and Roosevelt were speaking not of the soldiers in the line, but of the nations at war (we will bear any burden). Bush did not say this as part of a planned speech, he forced it out by cutting a reporter off.

Further, he made the point that attacks, "over there," were desirable.

If he had been someplace over there, speaking to troops, bucking up morale (which was none too good where I was, and I had a nice quiet part of the war to enjoy) it would have been acceptable. He would have been telling us he had faith in our ability to take care of business.

But sitting in a hospital, worrying about my friends, doing my occasional grieving (I still haven't managed to visit ward 57, much as I sort of want to. Talking with family, and passing the time of day in the halls is about as much as I can take of that) and hearing someone say that attacking those friends is DESIRED, that angers me.

Yes, I signed up. Yes, I am expendable. I don't want to think I am something to be tossed away cheaply, and that is how I felt when I heard those words.

Terry K.

Loren MacGregor ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2003, 05:40 PM:

Tery Karney wrote:

"Yes, I signed up. Yes, I am expendable. I don't want to think I am something to be tossed away cheaply, and that is how I felt when I heard those words [of GWB]."

No, you are not expendable. As far as I can tell, the military at most levels are trying to do a good job in an impossible situation, and it is unfortunate that an offhand, ill-considered comment potentially puts you and everyone in the field at greater risk.

Irrelevantly, I am reminded that Bob Hope said similar things many times ... from stages at or near the battlefield. If Bush had been on a walking tour of Iraq at the time, I would have a very different sense of the meaning of his message.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2003, 05:48 PM:

Loren, what you said. But I think military people use a different sense of the word 'expendable' than you and I normally do.

I think it's context-sensitive. Soldiers are expendable in the sense that it's accepted military practice to go into a situation knowing you will lose some, if the situation is worth going into in the first place.

I don't happen to find Terry expendable in any sense. But I understand what he means.

And GWB's political gain alone is not worth one single soldier's life. It's not even worth Saddam Hussein's life -- which in turn fails to outweigh two beans.

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2003, 11:22 AM:


Xopher is right. We use the word differently (sort of like intelligence).

It is a given that soldiers will be killed (it's a rough line of work). The trick is to spend as few of us as possible.

Taking that to heart (knowing that push come to shove one is but a token in the game) is probably the hardest part of making a soldier out of a civilian.

That said, none of us wants to get dead for no purpose. This makes it harder, I think, in this day and age, for the soldier of a democracy to fight in difficult actions, "An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!," to quote Kipling, and if we think we are being expended to no good cause, well we might just decide to be Montesquieu's Army and vote with our feet.

Certainly the Reserve component has taken a hit because of how we are being used, and will lose more when the present contracts run out.

I know a lot of long-service soldiers who are going to leave, walk away from the pension and the rest of it, because they feel they have been ill used.

Terry K.

Loren MacGregor ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2003, 11:58 AM:

Terry and Xopher, I am aware of the differing meanings of "expendable"; I just don't agree.

It seems hard to believe that 35 years have gone by since I attempted to enlist because many of my friends and acquaintances were using dubious excuses to stay out, and while I agreed with the idea that "the war" was wrong (and for us, then, there was only one "war," and that was Viet Nam), I had a very basic belief that before I criticized the military, I should understand more about it. (Also, with a brother in the Navy on a nuclear sub, a brother in the Air Force, and a sister in the Army, there was some expectation that I would either be a priest or a soldier.) For reasons too long and weird to explain (for example, I got discharged by accident), I served a bit more than two days of military service, so I can't say I really got much indoctrination. But even that was enough to make me consider "expandable" the type of word that does no more than make it easier for those higher up the food chain to distance themselves from the events of the battlefield, much like "outsourcing," "redundancy" and "creating efficiencies" are words and phrases that allow senior management to skate over concepts like "taking away the sole support of a family."

"Intelligence" in the terms of "useful information" is not inherently a damaging concept; "expendable," at its base, IS.

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2003, 12:16 PM:

Loren,

That distance which expendable grants, is not only useful, it is needful.

There are times when soldier have to go where they WILL be killed, and someone has to send them. I have had to send troops into harm's way. The way one deals with the risk (in the head, not on the ground) is to weigh the needs served by such risk.

If the information to be gained (in my line of work) is worth it, then one must send people, if not then one doesn't.

But if troops are not expendable, if bringing them all back alive is the ruling precept, nothing gets collected. Zero risk is not an option.

Terry K.

David Warren ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2003, 12:31 PM:

David Warren here. I think I got it wrong, actually. Not surprising as I was a little tipsy when I wrote that piece.