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Wednesday, March 23, 2005
 
THE DEBATE CONTINUES

ANON: [Re: corporate looting] You answered back something about how Americans have to right to buy Count Chockula if they want. All right! Way to go dude! Lets hope they have count Chockula in those gulags the right is building. I suppose people like you won't mind them if they can still chose cheap breakfast cereals.

TJ: I think it is interesting that you oppose Gulags, yet you supported the communists in Vietnam. Before figuring out what they are serving for breakfast, I’d like to know where these Gulags are, and who exactly will be going in them. The New York Times Editorial Board? The leaders of Moveon.org? Howard Dean? It seems surprising that the right would create a police state and, according to you, build Gulags, and allow our biggest enemies to roam the streets free. Please explain.

ANON: Let me be a little clearer: the current government is making it easier for corporations to loot you not at the cash register - but in the things which you cannot chose. The drug companies loot you when they sell you as an American, the same drugs for double the price they charge the rest of the world. You are looted by halliburton and the million defense contractors when they get no-bid contracts, fail in all their goals and still get paid a billions. Many of those contract have ridiculous invoices like when they charged you the taxpayer 9 million dollars for 80k worth of gas. But thats when they even bother with invoices. Many billions are not accounted for at all. Nobody knows where it went. It could have gone to buy mortars and rpgs for the insurgency there. There is no way for us to know. Or how about the way you are about to get looted when the federal government has to bail out the PBGC (in federal insurance company that insures corporate pension plans ). Or the way you are about to get looted when they rape you with the changes to social security.

TJ: Hey, you want to live in a country with price controls for pharmaceuticals, that’s fine. But the reality is, the result will be fewer life-saving drugs on the shelves in the future, not more. Canadian price controls have the effect of forcing Americans to subsidize their markets. They can only get away with it because it is such a small market, it is essentially gravy for the drug companies. As a result, they are getting a free ride on our backs.

As far as contracts, the whole purpose of the procurement system is to put in place some checks so that we can identify people who over-charge and rip us off. The fact that you know about those things shows that the procurement system is working, at least in part. If a company has been given money to perform a service and millions are unaccounted for, then my guess is that they will be held accountable for it. I would say that these are examples of people who DIDN’T get away with looting the system – since at the very least, any company that can’t keep track of the money will be held responsible for it and, where the guilty can be identified, individuals will go to jail.

Your statement that this money could be going to the insurgency is a groundless one. It could also be going to support the anti-war movement. Or to support local Democratic candidates in Minnesota. As you say, “we just don’t know!”

Now, you can point to procurement problems as evidence that other people are getting away with it and it is a systemic problem, and I would probably agree that government programs are administered very badly and that is why we should have fewer government programs. But that doesn’t mean we should have no government programs. I am also for competitive bidding. But I can also recognize the fact that sometimes it is more important to get something done quickly, so a no-bid contract might be the best course of action. In the case of Iraq, where the military, economic and humanitarian needs are pressing, I think that should seem obvious to anyone who isn’t blinded by partisanship.

I don’t know much about the PBGC, but the way you describe it, it is a federal insurance program that insures corporate pension plans. Again, I don’t know how the whole thing works, but it sounds like the whole purpose of the PBGC is to bail out plans that turn out to be underfunded (and probably to monitor the plans to make sure they are not under-funded in the first place). How much taxpayer funding is lost from something like this, I’m not sure, but it sure sounds like a regulatory agency that was created to protect workers from corporations.

ANON: You ( with me parapharasing a little ): " But at least a generation or two of Vietnamese would have enjoyed their liberty" had we won Vietnam war. Maybe that generation would have enjoyed freedom had we not killed them. Really is there no depth of depravity that makes war not worth it for you. The Nazi's killed 6 million Jews. For sure and enormous crime, which we memorialize constantly. America killed 5 million Vietnamese. But you manage to think this is right somehow. Remember the quote that finally gave Americans back their conscience on Vietnam when some sargent in the field said "Sometimes you have we have to destroy the village in order to save it". America and the world has come to a conclusion about the Vietnam war: America was wrong. And thankfully against all odds we lost that war and the world is better for it. Join the 21st century.

TJ: Why does it bother you that we “memorialize constantly” the Nazi killing of 6 million Jews? Your figure of 5-million dead doesn’t mesh with any of the historical estimates that are out there. Regardless, you don’t seem to follow my fairly simple point. Americans were not fighting the war over the objections of the South Vietnamese. The South Vietnamese were fighting on our side, against the communist North Vietnamese army and their Viet Cong proxies. The South Vietnamese continued to fight the war after we left and it was only after the US stopped providing military aid to the South Vietnamese that they were over-run.

You are at least man (or woman) enough to admit that you are grateful that the United States lost the Vietnam war. I’m not exactly sure how the world is “better for it.” Certainly, the South Vietnamese were not any better for it. The refugees, who left their homes and put their children on rickity rafts in an attempt to flee – they weren’t any better for it. Who was better for it? It was a victory for the communists, I guess, the same guys who brought you the actual Gulags rather than the imaginary ones you rant about.

I can’t help but wonder, though. Do you want the US to lose this war too? Seriously. You say that the world was better off because the US lost Vietnam. Would the world be better off if the US lost in Iraq? Are you supporting the insurgency? Hey, be honest, man. You are, after all, anonymous.

ANON: Me: "I challenge you to find some pictures of people living in Fallujah." You answered back some blathering about how journalists only take pictures of destruction and blood. Its very simple: if there is some kind of happy normal life going on inside Fallujah then someone is taking pictures of it and posting them. I'm sure that if it is possible some marine photographers would be out there taking pictures of soldiers giving candy to children or some other propaganda. I challenged you to find it. Fallujah has been completely destroyed. There is nothing to argue about - you either can find some pictures to refute this point or you can concede the point and shut up. My problem with you is not that you are stupid, which you are not, but that you are ignorant. Get some facts. If I'm wrong prove it - with some evidence. This point about Fallujah is easy to refute - it you are correct.

TJ: Maybe it would surprise you, but I don’t have an unlimited amount of time. The pictures that are most easily accessible are those from the battle of Fallujah. You have stated that Fallujah was destroyed. I followed the news during that time and it just isn’t true. Yes, we did a heck of a lot of damage to many places the terrorists were using to launch attacks. But we didn’t carpet bomb Fallujah. The majority of buildings were intact. The soldiers were going house to house – meaning that there were -- actual houses. I’m sure there is evidence out there, but frankly, I have things to do. It seems a minor point anyway, because if we had to blow the whole City up to ensure that the rest of the country could move forward, then so be it. Thankfully, that was not necessary. The most recent Satellite photos I have seen are from November, which pre-dates the attack. When these are updated, we will be able to judge whether the city has been destroyed or not. To date, you have provided no evidence that the city was destroyed and, to be fair, I have provided no evidence that the city was not destroyed. If you score that a victory, enjoy it.

ANON: Me: "Go to Dahr Jamail. You don't have the stomach to see such pictures. Picture upon picture of civilians shot in the head, men women and children, at close range in their beds."

You answered back some business about how our troops would never do such a thing. Well we never thought they would do what they did in Abu Ghraib either - until pictures proved us wrong. Again, there is no argument here. This is a simple matter of facts. Go to Dahr Jamail, look at the pictures, and find a way to explain how all those people were shot in the head asleep in their beds. Don't wave your hands about how this is just not possible. If its not possible then call my bluff, and prove that this evidence does not exist.

TJ: Pictures of dead Iraqis on their beds is not evidence that American troops went house to house killing innocent women and children. It just isn’t. Can you provide evidence that they were not killed by insurgents? Of course not. I will readily acknowledge that innocent people were probably killed in the battle of Fallujah. You can blame the American military, but I blame the thugs and terrorists who chose to use Fallujah as a base of operations. The fact is, innocent people are not targeted by American soldiers, period. The thugs and gangsters and terrorists of this “insurgency” you speak of are the guys who are hacking the heads off of innocent people and shooting innocent people in the street. Or haven’t you seen the videos? The closest you have to evidence is a single American soldier who shot a wounded insurgent who was pretending to be dead. That’s it.

You believe that American soldiers are the bad guys. That’s fine. I don’t. There isn’t anything I can do to make you think differently. I’m not waving my hands by the way, because that makes it far too difficult to type.

ANON: Also I love how you think you are insulting me by saying that I might come from "academia". Being called an academic is complement everywhere except among ignorant knuckle-draggers.

TJ: You didn’t answer the question. Just tell me: are you a law student, a grad student or a professor? Keep in mind that you are the one hurling the insults. I think that tells everyone something about the strength of your arguments.

ANON: Me: "Al Sadr boycotted the elections." You answered back with some completely irrelevant quote about an unrelated issue from the SF Chronicle. Are you reading at your grade level? Read that quote carefully. The party in question is dedicated to Al-Sadr's FATHER - a different person - one who has been assasinated 6 years ago. The writer mentions that the party did "surprisingly well". As in - despite the fact that the son is boycotting and denouncing the elections. The party of independents is mentioned as being "said to be backed", as in, Al-Sadr the son, is not backing them officially and that there are rumors that he backs this party. If Al-Sadr was not boycotting the election he would be on the list himself and would be openly supporting his own list, of his own party - not some random independents spreading rumors about how Al-Sadr supports them.

Its like you read something, and in your mind you scramble up the words to make new sentences which make more sense to you. You really need to get out of this reality distortion field in which you live and join reality again.

TJ: Again, the SF Chronicle reports that there is a group in the election that is “said to be backed” by Al Sadr. Not Al Sadr’s father, but Al Sadr himself. That isn’t good enough for you? I’ll spell this out: Al Sadr didn’t want to lose face after publicly announcing he had boycotted the elections, then changed his mind, then publicly announcing that he had boycotted the elections again. Going back and forth sure makes someone look foolish.

If you can’t read between the lines, here it is: They were Al Sadr’s guys. They were running on a slate in the elections. Face it, you were reading old news, dude. Al Sadr boycotted the elections in November and then, when faced with reality, ended up quietly backing his own candidates in the January elections. I don’t insult you for being behind on the details of Iraqi electoral politics. I’m sure you are busy man, what with teaching the knuckle draggers and all.

ANON: You "Sure, they can just go to the terrorist base at Salman Pak. Oops. It is closed for business."Basically this sums up you argument in a few places how at least some terrorist hideouts have been closed. Rubbish. Yeah like they need Salman Pak. They have the whole or warlord ruled Afghanistan. Now conveniently funded by sales of Opium to America - a double win for the terrorists. Or they can use The entire Sunni triangle in Iraq. How about the whole city of Mosul as a good place to train our adversaries. We are less safe today than two years ago.

TJ: Again, you lose. You say: no terrorist problem in Iraq. I name a terrorist training base. That is really inconvenient to your argument. You instead shift your argument to claim that all of Afghanistan is now a terrorist training base, which is not true of course, by why let that stop you. Where exactly are these terrorists training in Mosul? Certainly not in the open. My understanding is that we took out all the monkey bars and climbing walls with the first bombing runs. Regardless, we can reach them. Not through diplomacy. Not through multi-party negotiations, but through daily strikes. The business of being a terrorist in Iraq is not easier today. It is harder.

That brings us to the question: are we safer today than before? Maybe, maybe not. We are engaging the enemy. That is never safe. But we certainly weren’t as safe as we once mistakenly thought we were. So I say, engage the enemy. Bring the fight to them. I think in the long run, that makes us safer. You say, well, not really much. It isn’t clear what you would do to fight our enemies.

ANON: And your argument is still irrelevant to the issue: Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, nor did it have WMD. Leon Klinghoffer or the 93 bombing or any of that other crap have nothing to do with 9/11.


TJ: Any nation that harbors terrorists that have targeted Americans should consider themselves warned. If you want to be the Motel 6 for terrorists, we will turn the lights out for you. This war isn’t just about 9/11 – it has been going on for 30 years and only after 9/11 did we really begin to fight back. You might not consider harboring the people responsible for the death of Klinghoffer or those responsible for killing 80 some Syracuse University students and hundreds of others to be relevant to the war on terror. I disagree. I think it is pretty central.

ANON: You: "If two tyrannies exist, and we can eliminate one of them, but not both, should we do nothing?" This as an answer to my comments about how Iran and North Korea are building nukes. The point is that in order to attack a non-threat we are allowing two serious threats go unanswered.

TJ: I am very glad that you agree with me that Iran is a serious threat. That is why I support an invasion of Iran. And, having the American military in Iraq certainly makes that job easier. How would you deal with that problem? In North Korea, I believe our best approach is containment – keep the pressure on them economically and use the Chinese to keep them in line. Please explain your approach.

ANON: It was you who moved the goalposts! I supported this war when I was told Saddam Hussein has the capability and the intention to strike us with some kind of doomsday weapon within 45 minutes. I was all for going in and removing that capability. What I got was an expensive quagmire and a bunch of garbage about how we are somehow "fullfilling god's plan" to bring "freedom and democracy" to Iraq. Get a grip. In addition what we also gave away was an opening for our enemies to in fact build the very doomsday weapons which none of them had two years ago.

TJ: Not so. I supported the war for a number of reasons. WMD’s was one. Changing the culture of the middle east was another. I have been talking for a long time about the importance of the Declaration of Independence as a guidepost for our foreign policy. I believe that all men are created equal and they are all endowed by our Creator with the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I think that Iraq and Afghanistan are important steps to ensuring that the Middle East doesn’t remain the quagmire it has been for 40 plus years. I think that if I were an Iraqi, I would prefer the chance of freedom to the certainty of tyranny. But that’s just me.

I think you need to be honest though. I really, really doubt that you supported the war. It sounds great now, you may even believe that it gives you added credibility. But I think it is extremely unlikely, given all the other complaints you have about the American military. Do I have evidence? Nope. Call it a hunch.


Comments:
On Vietnam war casualties:

The established number of civilian casualties in Vietnam was estimated at 3.2 million during the years right after the war.

http://encarta.msn.com/text_761552642__1/Vietnam_War.html

But this could not be confirmed because the Vietnamese government would not reveal its figures. This changed in 1995 when they finally gave an official account, that put the true figure at approximately 5 million.

/------------------------------------------------
The Agence France Presse (French Press Agency) news release of 4 April 1995 concerning the Vietnamese Government's release of official figures of dead and wounded during the Vietnam War.

HANOI (AP) - April 4. Cinq millions de morts: 20 ans apregraves la fin de la guerre du Vietnam, le gouvernement de Hanoi a reacute veacute leacute, lundi, le bilan d'un conflit dent le nombre de victimes avait eacute teacute minore a l'eacutepoque pour ne pas affecter le moral de la population.

Selon Hanoi, il y a eu pres de deux millions de morts dans la population civile du Nord et deux autres millions dans celle du Sud. Quant aux combats proprement dits, les chiffres sent d'un million cent mille militaires tueacutes et de 600.000 blesseacutes en 21 ans de guerre.

Ce dernier bilan comprend a la fois les victimes de la guerilla vietcong et les soldats nord-vietamiens qui les eacute paulaient. Les preacute ceacute dentes estimations de source occidentale faisaient eacute tat d'un bilan de 666.000 morts parmi Ies combattants Vietnamiens.

Translation

The Hanoi government revealed on April 4 that the true civilian casualties of the Vietnam War were 2,000,000 in the north, and 2,000,000 in the south. Military casualties were 1.1 million killed and 600,000 wounded in 21 years of war. These figures were deliberately falsified during the war by the North Vietnamese Communists to avoid demoralizing the population.

End Translation

Given a Vietnamese population of approximately 38 million during the period 1954-1975, Vietnamese casualties represent a good 12-13% of the entire population. To put this in perspective, consider that the population of the US was 220 million during the Vietnam War. Had The US sustained casualties of 13% of its population, there would have been 28 million US dead.
 
Well, at least you found a completely reliable source -- the communist Vietnamese (in French, even!). The fact is, those numbers don't even come close to the numbers estimated by historians.(See:http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/warstat2.htm#Vietnam). For what it is worth, they also greatly exceed the number of Japanese civilians killed during World War II, when we dropped atomic bombs that wiped out entire cities. I can't convince you. If you choose to believe the communist North Vietnamese propoganda even though it is far in excess of the estimates of dozens of historians, that is your choice.
 
Well at least now you know the figures on Vietnam. Thats pulled you small amount out of your cave.

Even your source gives the figure as 3.5 million people killed, in his top line. The median death toll of his impressively comprehensive listing, given at the bottom is 2.8 million. The listed sources are mostly from pre 1995 as I said. The Vietnamese government is in a better position to know the true cost than anyone else - because they have had physical control of the ground since the end of the war. They aren't proud of this figure, it took them 25 years to release it.

But whatever, you can discount them as a source on ideological reasons if you want.

The fact remains, that even using your older sources, it is still 3 million people killed. Most of them civilians: women, old people, children, babies. Maybe this is a comfortable figure for you. Maybe to you this was not an atrocity or a crime, but good price to pay for your ideological goals. When would it have become too much? 6 million Vietnamese? All 28 million then in existence? Or would it have to have been measured only in superior American lives? 50 thousand Americans killed was clearly still a bargain to you. How about 100 thousand, or a million? When is the price to high? And what ratio are you using for the value of American lives versus Vietnamese lives?

I know it is a sad disappointment to you that the war machine in this case was finally shut down by the anti war movement. You would have preferred that we continue to shovel the population of Vietnam screaming into the abyss.

It is my hope that this time we can shut the machine down while the death count is still in only in the hundreds of thousands.

George Orwell wrote in 1945: “The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.”
 
Earth to anonymous: Vietnam was a defensive war. The South was not invading the North. It was the other way around. I guess in your world, we should have allowed the communist "war machine" to roll over the South Vietnamese and just looked the other way. It was a DEFENSIVE war. The problem, as I have said before, is that the war was prolonged because we never fought to win. The communists could have ended the war at any time, by simply agreeing to STOP INVADING SOUTH VIETNAM. But they didn't do that. I agree that the war was a tragedy, all wars are. But I believe the people of Vietnam would have been better off if we had won the war. You believe they would have been best off if we had simply surrendered Vietnam to the communists.

The good thing about these posts, is that you reveal more and more about your real agenda -- shutting down the American "war machine" -- which doesn't really mesh too well with your previous assertions (which I do not believe) that you were an initial supporter of the war on iraq. If you feel compelled to disssemble the truth about your own beliefs, that tells us all we need to know.

I am also grateful that you openly admit that you are still working to "shut the machine down." Your side was successful in Vietnam because you had the media on your side and they were unchecked. That isn't happening today. You are on the losing side of history. Enjoy the ride.
 
Oh man! hehe! Nothing fits in your thick little head.

I supported and would support again the need for military action to remove a madman's capability to use a doomsday weapon on a population center - as the government claimed over and over. Madman killed, weapon secured and destroyed, mission complete, marines come home. Perfect. This is what they are for. But thats not how it turned out is it?

What I don't support is in fact this war machine, which plotted this invasion from before 9/11, is busy killing people, and spending money, and for apparently no purpose. This whole war is a sham, based on a lie, which hurts US interests, is looting this country, accomplishing the goal of our enemies etc. Yes I want this war stopped as soon as possible. Every day it continues is another day of damage to our country.

Defensive war? You live in a bubble. America started that war after the defeat of the French. Go learn what started the vietnam war:

http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/vietnam.htm

Ever hear of the Gulf of Tonkin:

http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2261

You know what, on second thought, don't go read. You win. I just cannot compete with such a perfect wall of willful ignorance.
 
If this wasn't a war of North Vietnamese agression then explain to me why, after the US had pulled its troops out, and Congress had cut military support for the South Vietnamese, that Northern Vietnamese tanks rolled into South Vietnam and took over the country?

How LBJ justified our troops being there and whether he was telling the truth about the Gulf of Tonkin is irrelevant. The communists in Vietnam were indeed trying to take over South Vietnam by military force. And after we left, and Democrats callously pulled military aid, they did exactly that.

I guess that is the kind of pre-emptive strike you would support, eh?
 
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