Paul From Minneapolis

Saturday, July 30, 2005

A Punk Who No Longer Feels Lucky

From the London Times, on the capture of one of the sniveling noodle-dick cowards over there:

Another witness said one of the suspects was heard shouting ‘I’ve got rights’. After some time, Mr Holliman said heard several shots which he believed were gas being fired at the flat and then there was silence. Outside the flat there were police officers and marksmen with gas masks, as well as a helicopter overhead.

“What about my rights? What about my rights?”
Hm. Where have I heard that before?

Update: Is the term simply "noodle-dick?" Or would "noodle-dicked" be most proper? (Like a friend once said, writing is essentially solving problems and making decisions.)

Monday, July 11, 2005

Two Trains Running

With one running a lot better than the other.

There have been, prior to the onrushing Rove explosion, two major stories out there that tend to undercut the stances of the two political factions in the US: the pro-war (or non-anti-war) group and the pure anti-war group. That is, each story deals a body blow to the claims or perceptions of one camp or the other.

On the one hand, there are the abuses we do know of in our various detainment camps. The actions of rogue guards, and the apparently questionable approaches to interrogation, while exaggerated and luxuriated in to a squalid degree by the left, are in fact disturbing, worth talking about, necessary to know, and above all: evidence that the Bush administration is capable of some pretty amazing behavior (if indirectly) and then not really telling the truth about it.

I mean, there’s not nothing there.

At least that’s how it seems to me right now. It may be that even that measured description means I am buying too easily into The Critique. The Critique is quite seductive for those of us on the Former Left, as you may not know. It’s safe, it’s fun, it lets us focus on a much more satisfying and bully-able enemy than al Qaeda and its offshoots. And if it’s also right - factually and morally - well, you can't beat it.

This first story is getting covered plenty.

The alternate story is the reality of terrorist connections and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

They were many in number and wide in scope. Dominated by discussion and feelers and punctuated by actual cooperation or near-cooperation, they’re slightly but not really very difficult to understand. They are more than sufficient for a reasonable person to agree that Hussein's Iraq was a perfectly apt and worrying example of the “nexus of rogue states and international terrorism,” the concept defined by Bill Clinton and passed on to George W. Bush.

Here’s just a recent
cataloguing. (Yes, it’s the Weekly Standard. Some of you may need to hold your liberal/secular crucifix in front of you as you read, but give it a shot.)

The reality (at least as real as the most lurid versions of the abuse story) stands in some contrast to one of the basic support beams of left war-condemnation, which is that Saddam’s Iraq had absolutely no relationship worth bothering about with terrorism.

Proponents of that position always (and I mean always) fall back on the 9-11 Commission report. Why, just last week I had a highly dissatisfying exchange with Strib cartoonist Steve Sack. And I accept more than half the responsibility; I thought I was simply communicating my worldview for benefit of a rare open-minded emissary from the left, including why I am angry at the paper, and he took it personally and things fell apart quickly. But in response to my raising this Hussein/terror issue, via the irreplaceable
Andrew McCarthy, this is what Steve said:

The reasoning behind my view are primarily the findings of the bipartisan 9-11 Commission, which found "no credible connection."

Hm. Of course that’s not what the report said. The statement he's attempting to quote (I ascribe to him to dishonest motivation) is more complex than that; it pertains to a "collaborative relationship," as in actual evidence of cooperation on specific acts. And it's confined to the relationship with al Qaeda, specifically, and not the wider, intensely complicated and unknowable word of Islamic terror, from Israel-focused and other local versions to the international variety, and all the gray areas in between. And I’m pretty sure Steve is unaware of testimony during the Commission proceedings that lend even more ambiguity to what the Commission studied and eventually stated.

But it's what people like Steve generally believe and demand I agree the report said, and hence no further discussion on the whole topic is warranted. For me to insist on maintaining the debate means – usually – that I am a fascist or more generously a fool.

This other story is not getting quite as much coverage as Guantanamo and so on.