June 04, 2004

De-Fisking Fisking

So, like I said, my fisking of Algorangutan's MoveOn speech has been challenged by a lefty blogger who takes issue with my claim that there was actually some substance to the fisking itself.

This is going to be a bit confusing, since it's a fisking within a fisking, but here's how it's going to work: Segments from my fisking will be in italics, segments from Gore's speech will be within italics and quotation marks, and segments from the other blogger's fisking will just be within blockquotes. And, of course, my responses will just be in regular format. You'll figure it out. Click the extended entry for Extreme Fisking!

The other day I did a brief round-up of the reactions to Gore's speech, and one blogger on the right seems to have taken exception to my suggestion that their side had nothing new to say:

It links to part 3 of my fisking with the word "crazy." Heh heh. Nothing to say, huh? I guess that's why I spent several hours researching and dissecting the entire thing.

Nice dodge.

So, let's see if there was indeed anything new:

"George W. Bush promised us a foreign policy with humility. Instead, he has brought us humiliation in the eyes of the world."

If you liberal idiots really cared about our international reputation, you wouldn't be bending over backwards to make it look like the Abu Ghraib abuses represent our entire military.

Of course, no one said any such thing.

*cough* TED KENNEDY *cough*

Gore said that it was the result of a policy - one that quite a few members of our military have been expressing disgust with, by the way.

Hmm...Let's look at Gore's actual words:

What happened at the prison, it is now clear, was not the result of random acts by "a few bad apples," it was the natural consequence of the Bush Administration policy that has dismantled those wise constraints and has made war on America's checks and balances.

Last time I checked, that implies that our entire military is acting that way. I also find it interesting that this so-called "policy" somehow forced people to abuse prisoners, despite the fact that they've been disciplined for it. I have to say, that's the first time I've seen anyone punished for following the rules.

Leaving that aside, we liberals don't have to say a single word to wreck America's international reputation, since George Bush has already accomplished that all by himself.

It seems to me like you have to say every single word you can get in. Again, see "Ted Kennedy." And I could give other examples, too. Just turn on your local news. I bet you'll see naked pyramids within 5 minutes.

What we liberals are trying to do is remind the world that many Americans are disgusted by what happened at Abu Ghraib and want that policy stopped immediately.

Which is why they investigated back at the beginning of the year, and we're currenty working to prosecute those responsible. See, in this country, we actually punish people who do that kind of thing. There's no "Naked Pyramid Policy." There were a few morons who wanted to abuse their position, and they're paying the price.

Again, this "point" is nothing new: It's a standard RNC talking point...

Come on, just call me a dittohead. You know you want to.

...that it's not the administration's disastrous policies that make us look bad, but people who observe that those policies are disastrous that make us look bad. Right-wingers are apparently unaware that the rest of the world was disgusted without any help from us liberals.

What exactly is it about the policies that makes us look bad, anyway? Has it occurred to you that maybe, just maybe, certain people didn't like us already? It's not like the entire world loved us before the horrible Racistimperialisthalliburtonbrownpeoplemurderingwarforoil took place. In fact, some of the European countries who are upset right now feel that way because they had deals with Saddam that made them money. And what about the U.N.? They have a few skeletons in their closet. In addition, remember the footage of Arabs celebrating on 9/11? Those are the kind of people we're going after now.

In any case, instead of looking bad, would you prefer that we looked like a smoking crater? Because that's what'll happen if we let terrorists roam free.

And for the record, it does make us look bad when you lefties won't shut up about the "atrocities" committed in "Bush's gulag." John Kerry will tell you about the effect that anti-Americanism can have on a war effort. And yes, comparing us to Saddam Hussein is anti-American.

"He promised to "restore honor and integrity to the White House." Instead, he has brought deep dishonor to our country and built a durable reputation as the most dishonest President since Richard Nixon."

"Bush lied! Bush lied!" Even the former vice president is parroting this pathetic smear now. I love how they can NEVER PROVIDE SPECIFIC EXAMPLES. We just have to trust them, since everyone knows that Republicans are liars. After all, if they were honest, they wouldn't agree with the eeeeeeevil right wing agenda.

It is hard to know what to say to someone who claims we "never provide specific examples." The examples are so abundant at this point that I hardly know where to start.

Sorry if this seems harsh, but...THAT'S EXACTLY THE MOTHERF**KING PROBLEM!!!! You always say that, but you can never provide one clear, undeniable example of Bush lying. It's always something ambiguous about WMD. As we'll see in a few paragraphs, you also like to put words in Dubya's mouth.

There are entire websites dedicated just to detailing the rather wide distinction between what Bush says and what he does, what Bush says and what is true.

Yeah, and I should trust them more than the president of the U.S., despite the fact that reading them seems to kill my brain cells. Sorry, but until I'm capable of achieving a state of complete cognitive dissonance, I'll pass on that offer.

Any regular reader of Eschaton can probably think of a half dozen off the top of their head.

Oh, you mean the regular readers who think Bush is a racist because he appears in photos with minorities and dares to call it "compassion?" I assume you also throw Markos "Screw Them!" Zuniga in there. After all, he exposed the dastardly plot to cover up the cause of Bush's bicycling accident. Bush lied, the topsoil dried! (That wasn't mine)

Seeing the Forest regularly reminds us not to count on what they say, but to watch what they do.

Don't confuse "seeing the forest" with "banging your head against a tree trunk." There is a subtle difference.

You have to laugh at this particular criticism, even though, of course, we have heard this one before, as well. People whose memories go back as far as 2000 remember that one criticism of Gore was that he provided too many details, seemed to have too good a grasp of them and did not hesitate to discuss them. But then the same critics turned around and complained that a single speech is not presented as if it were a research paper. Nothing new.

Short response to that: So what? Who friggin' cares what people said then? I was 15 during the 2000 elections, and I wasn't into politics yet. I'd love to have a president who provided specific examples to back up his claims. I'm sorry if you prefer talking points and slogans, but I like to know facts.

"Honor? He decided not to honor the Geneva Convention."

Yeah, because he ordered those poor, innocent guards to stack prisoners naked and take photos. And by the way, THE GENEVA CONVENTION ONLY APPLIES TO SOLDIERS IN UNIFORM! Terrorists disguised as civilians have no rights.

This is another RNC talking point, and of course it is false. First of all, the Geneva Conventions say that if an individual's status is in doubt, a tribunal must be held to determine that status before such an exception can be made; until that time, they must be treated as if they were covered by the protections of the Geneva Conventions.

Who said their status was in doubt in the first place? As we'll see, this is based on the assumption that the prisoners are innocent of any particular crime.

No such tribunals have ever been held with regard to the Iraqis in Guantanamo, let alone Iraq. Moreover, it is now well known that many - indeed, most - of those detained are entirely innocent; they weren't wearing uniforms because they were not, in fact, combatants, spies, or anything else - they were just residents and had no reason to be wearing uniforms.

Again, I'll cover this in a little while when it comes up. Seriously, do you think that they wouldn't disguise themselves as civilians to take us out? Plus, there are documented cases of people pretending to surrender and then opening fire when approached. And don't even get me started on using civilians as human shields, taking foreign hostages, attacking mosques to make us look bad, etc., etc.

(The exception our hero is referring to applies only if we are talking about an army that has uniforms, in any event. We haven't even established whether uniforms are required by combatant Iraqis or Afghanistan's soldiers.)

All right, let's look a little more in-depth at this issue. I will concede that, on this point, and this point alone, there's a chance I'm missing something, but I've been looking at the actual Geneva Convention related to prisoners, and I found some interesting details. Take a look:

2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:

(a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

Okay, well, I guess Al-Sadr could count...

(b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;

Oh, there's strike one. Like I said, there are documented cases of insurgents posing as civilians or pretending to surrender. Oh, and don't forget the ones who pose as police officers.

(c) That of carrying arms openly;

Strike two, in a lot of cases.

(d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

Aha! There's the problem. Let's see if the terrorists are following the Geneva Convention itself:

Article 3

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

We've already got a problem, since they seem not to care about killing civilians.

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

Can you say "Nick Berg," children?

(b) Taking of hostages;

Oh, you mean like hostages from Japan or Italy?

See, if you really believe that they're all innocent, you can make a decent case that Lynndie England and Company violated the Convention, but if they were actually terrorists, they violated the rules of warfare themselves, thereby sacrificing some of their rights. I'm sure you've seen this and dismissed it as an RNC talking point, but just for the sake of argument, it is possible to make the case that we need more coercive interrogation methods in some situations:

"We obey the Geneva Conventions because our opponent does the same with American PoWs. That is impossible with al-Qaeda."

I know you think that we just go around randomly arresting people for not being American, but you really should give our military a bit more credit. This still doesn't excuse what they did, but they didn't necessarily commit war crimes.

And finally, I will once more point out that President Bush did not order the Abu Ghraib @sshats to do what they did. That's why they're in trouble now, and it's also why one of their peers had to report it. See, it was a violation of their policy, and we generally don't tell people specifically to disregard policy, even if the Geneva Convention doesn't specifically apply.

But I'm no legal expert. What do I know?

More importantly, the Geneva Conventions make no exceptions for torture at all. There are no circumstances where they allow for the torture of anyone, ever, no matter what. That's some research you did, sugar.

Well, thanks, babycakes, but you may want to look into the so-called "torture" and realize that we're taking care of the people who actually did go too far (as I've said numerous times), and many of the other things they did are more abuse or mistreatment than actual torture. I won't use the whole "frat hazing" analogy, but that's not to say it isn't somewhat near the mark.

As for the worse cases, again, President Bush did not order it. That's why he apologized for their actions instead of trying to justify it.

Note also that our hero is unable to distinguished between Iraqis and Al Qaeda.

No need to. A terrorist is a terrorist. I don't give two sh!ts where he's from. I just want him to die.

You will recall, even if CD does not, that there is no known connection between Iraq and 9/11...

Sure, you may recall that, but the human brain is capable of manufacturing false memories. There may not be a direct connection between Iraq and 9/11 (after all, few on the right ever made that claim), but there are plenty of ties between Iraq and terrorism. For example...

- Payments to Palestinian suicide bombers
- Terrorist training camps
- Harboring known terrorists
- Possible meetings with Al Qaeda officials

...Oh, screw it, just go read the evidence. And don't think I couldn't find more. You can't just dismiss all of it as "lies." A lot of this info was gathered during the Golden Years™ of the Clinton administration.

And if you think Al Qaeda is the only terrorist organization that poses a threat to us, you really need to open your eyes.

...but the illustrious CD...

I think I'll tell people to start calling me that from now on.

...presumes that every single person who happened to be around where US military personnel were picking up apparently random personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq were terrorists.

No, I presume, in all my illustriousness, that if the U.S. military detains someone, they just might have a reason to do so. Just because they made some mistakes doesn't mean that everyone was innocent. And didn't they just release a few hundred prisoners? How horrible, exposing them to the heat of the desert and making them fend for themselves like that.

Incidentally, are you presuming that there are no terrorists in Iraq? It's called separating the wheat from the chaff.

Ah, here's a good one:

"He did not honor the advice, experience and judgment of our military leaders in designing his invasion of Iraq."

Could've fooled me.

Clearly, someone did. I mean, it's only been all over the news.

What's been all over the news? QUAGMIRE QUAGMIRE QUAGMIRE QUAGMIRE QUAGMIRE? The news lost any credibility they may have had a long time ago, when they predicted that we would be massacred trying to take Baghdad. And I don't trust them anyway. That's why blogs exist. And the blogs (including some written by soldiers who were in Iraq) tell me that we're making progress, and that the real situation is nothing like what you see on the news. I tend to trust people who have seen it up close, rather than through the anti-Bush lens of the media.

"How did we get from September 12th , 2001, when a leading French newspaper ran a giant headline with the words "We Are All Americans Now" and when we had the good will and empathy of all the world -- to the horror that we all felt in witnessing the pictures of torture in Abu Ghraib."

The horror! The horror!!! How about the horror that we felt in witnessing the 9/11 attacks? Do you really believe that those poor, mistreated prisoners wouldn't have flown those planes themselves if given the chance? We treated them better than they deserve.

Again, it has also been all over the news that most of the people detained in Iraq are innocent.

Oh, so if it's "all over the news," it's automatically the pure, unvarnished truth, right? That explains why the left thinks the Abu Ghraib abuses represent the entire war, since the media has been enlightening us with lovely images of naked prisoners for the past month. We can't forget how barbaric we are!

Now, back to the actual claim that "most of the people detained in Iraq are innocent." I'll refer you to this source, which shines some light on the issue:

That is not, of course, what the Red Cross reported. Their February report, which is freely accessible on the internet, said only this: "Certain CF military intelligence officials told the ICRC that in their estimate between 70% and 90% of the persons deprived of liberty in Iraq had been arrested by mistake." Note three basic points: One, the Red Cross did no investigation whatsoever to arrive at this "statistic," which now shows up routinely in left-wing denunciations of the war. Two, the allegation is unsourced; the "military intelligence officials" are anonymous. Such anonymous, second-hand sourcing is, for obvious reasons, notoriously unreliable. God only knows what some unknown "intelligence official" said to some unknown Red Cross staffer. Third, the Red Cross' second-hand slur didn't refer to Abu Ghraib or any other prison. It referred to persons who were "deprived of liberty." A great many people in Iraq are detained briefly by military personnel; it seems reasonable to assume that most of those who are "arrested by mistake" are freed, not imprisoned at Abu Ghraib or other prisons in "Bush's gulag." It is therefore ridiculous to transfer the Red Cross' anonymous estimate to the inmates of Abu Ghraib. But this is what Al Gore and other leftist politicians and newspapers do, constantly.

And then there's this little dilemma:

The Red Cross in fact made no such statement. It launched no investigation into the matter whatsoever. Secondly, the statement that it did make, we should remind ourselves is a statement by a component of the Red Cross -- the Red Crescent, which is the Middle Eastern version of the Red Cross -- that has allowed its ambulances to be used by Palestinian terrorists.

Allow me to summarize those "RNC talking points" I just quoted:

-"Most of the people detained in Iraq" are not innocent. The innocent ones are not held after their innocence is proven. On the other hand, those who have not been proven innocent are detained, because they just might be terrorists.

- The Red Cross relied on anonymous sources, leaving us with very little idea of just who they talked to.

- The report made no mention of Abu Ghraib in the section about innocent prisoners.

- The source itself has, in the past, aided terrorists.

Moving on...

And if you think merely by virtue of being Iraqis that they were pleased to see 9/11, let alone that they would have been willing participants, you really need to see a proctologist about the position of your head.

Give me a second to squeeze out of this pigeonhole you just pushed me into.......ah, that's better.

I do not, by any stretch of the imagination, think that they would be happy about 9/11 "by virtue of being Iraqis." I think they would be happy about it by virtue of being anti-American terrorists. And my head is just fine, although the stench rising from your attempted fisking is similar to what I would experience in the event of a rectal-cranial inversion. Thanks for your concern.

But of course, this has been the real Number One Talking Point of Bush with regard to Iraq: that it was not Osama, not Saudi Arabians, not insane religious fanatics, who were responsible for 9/11, but the secular government of Iraq. (This is one of those lies we were talking about earlier, CD.)

More specifically, this is one of those lies I was talking about, i.e. "putting words in the president's mouth." Bush has consistently stated that Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda, and their supporters in the Taliban were responsible for 9/11. We went to Iraq to take out a murderous dictator who could potentially give terrorists the resources to carry out another attack. In this case, the best defense is a good offense. There's really no chance to retaliate after your country is nuked.

"To begin with, from its earliest days in power, this administration sought to radically destroy the foreign policy consensus that had guided America since the end of World War II."

From its earliest days in power? What the f**k were they doing before 9/11 that was so horrible for us?

Yep, that was terrific research you did. Do the words "South Korea" ring a bell? Bush was wrecking our foreign policy very early in his term. 9/11 just stepped it up a few notches.

Actually, no. No, they don't. Saying the name of a country does not a rebuttal make, I'm afraid. But I'd be willing to research it if you'd actually say what you're referring to.

Part 1 goes on pretty much in that vein. Part 2 begins:

This next section is a bit beyond my area of expertise, so it's not going to be brilliant, but I have to get through it so I can return to the good stuff. Let's begin...

At which point I thought to myself, "Let's not." Having seen his "expertise" in Part 1, I'd had plenty.

When you assume, you make a Democrat out of the University of Maine. Just remember that.

Part 3 is a projection of the terrible threat Kerry presents to us. Nothing new, nothing new, nothing new. But pig-ignorant, f'sure.

You didn't read it, did you? Come on, you can tell me. I won't laugh. Much.

The astonishing thing is that this so-called "fisking" is presented as some sort of refutation of Gore's speech.

That's generally what a "fisking" is designed to be, yes.

Not a single word of it has been refuted, of course; this isn't even a half-decent example of a rebuttal, let alone a refutation.

I appreciate the self-deprecation, but does it really help your argument when you insult your own work?

But, amazingly, this guy just throws out a bunch of tired old RNC talking points and a load of snide statements and thinks he has presented something new.

I'll let this new fisking be the Cluebat that takes out the last point.

Commenters, I suggest you fill in anything I may have missed. I want this to be an example to others who think they can dismiss SIT.

Okay, ego off. That's better.

Posted by CD on June 4, 2004 04:48 PM
Semi-Intelligent Comments

"Fisking"? For God's sake, please write in English.

Posted by: Meridy at June 6, 2004 04:49 PM

fisking: n
[blogosphere; very common] A point-by-point refutation of a blog entry or (especially) news story. A really stylish fisking is witty, logical, sarcastic and ruthlessly factual; flaming or handwaving is considered poor form. Named after Robert Fisk, a British journalist who was a frequent (and deserving) early target of such treatment. See also MiSTing, anti-idiotarianism

Posted by: CD at June 6, 2004 05:01 PM
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