Nine Eleven

By Phil Plait | September 11, 2007 10:49 am


I’m not much for anniversaries and such, but this one is difficult to maneuver around.

It means different things to different people, as anniversaries always do. To some it means flag-waving, jingoism, and America-love-it-or-leave-it.

To me, it will always be a reminder of just how cold and cruel our own government became, and how that government was all too-easily fed by the population’s fear.

What have we learned in six years? What progress has been made? Are we safer?

I don’t know what makes me sadder: that those people in the World Trade Center, in the Pentagon, and on Flight 93 died because of pointless dogma, pointless ideology… or that their deaths have been so ruthlessly abused by those in power in our own country to further their own mad agenda based on pointless dogma and pointless ideology.

Perhaps saddest of all is the cold, certain knowledge that I will get comments on this post saying that I am wrong; that Iraq deserved what it got, despite all the evidence we have amassed showing that our government has consistently and with malice aforethought lied to its citizens, sent its children off to die for that lie, and is now beating the drums to expand that lie into Iran.

Different people, different meanings. But somewhere in there is the truth, and of all the jabbering and slavering I will no doubt see in blogs and on TV today, of one thing I am completely certain: enough people will still want to be blind, to be led, to be safe, that they will gladly trade their freedom for empty words.

But not all words are empty. I urge you to read these:

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men."

"The greatest tyrannies are always perpetrated in the name of the noblest causes."

"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."

Ideas inspire these words, and I hope these words inspire action.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Piece of mind, Politics

Comments (100)

Links to this Post

  1. Telescope Fun » Blog Archive » Nine Eleven | September 12, 2007
  1. Doc

    You speak my mind, friend.

    What’s more, I worry that none of the options in the upcoming elections will really make much of a difference.

  2. RAF

    When questioning the actions of our own government I find myself asking, “Do only evil men aspire to power?”

    As pointed out in the BA’s “quotes”, evil men can only survive because good men allow them too…

  3. James

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
    – Edmund Burke

    This applies to how we vote (or don’t vote) as well. Americans who choose not to participate by executing their right to suffrage are in essence “do[ing] nothing.” Burke told the truth, unfortunately our administration frequently doesn’t.

    JL

  4. Great post, Phil. Thanks.

  5. Jorge

    Do not leave out,”The road to hell is paved with good intentions”.

  6. FrankR

    Those people in the World Trade Center, in the Pentagon, and on Flight 93 did not die because of pointless dogma, pointless ideology. They died because 19 evil men supported by other evil people took over planes and caused the deaths. Argue all you want about the response afterwards and the causes that led these men to do this, but they did it. Do not try to lay blame for their choices on others. These evil people did this. If you were referring to pointless dogma and pointless ideology of the men who did this act, then I misinterpreted your post, but I doubt it based on your obvious seething hatred of President Bush.

  7. You echo my thoughts, and in my mind I see a war crimes trial. It helps me sleep.

  8. Wrong FrankR, those people died because those 19 people upheld religious dogma and ideology reflected by muslim fundamentalists. They were the messengers; the message was quite clear.

  9. Laguna2

    Yes FrankR, you misinterpreted the post!
    But I asume you wanted to, as even to me,
    as a non native speaker, the intention of Phil’s
    post was crystal clear.

  10. Powerful post, Phil. You articulate my thoughts about today. I also think about all of the international good will that was squandered by the people in power as they invaded Iraq and disregarded the Geneva Convention.

  11. Mark Martin

    While out driving today I started to notice that most of the flags were at half-mast. I scratched my head, trying like the dickens to recall which public figure must’ve died yesterday or this morning. Then, after the delay, it suddenly clicked: today is September 11th.

    Really, I had forgotten. And why not? I don’t see the populace at-large making a fuss on December 7th every year. I never hear anyone asking me to remember the Alamo. September 11th is now overdue to become just another day of the year, as far as I’m concerned. Anything more is just a dying civilization grasping for breath.

  12. The initial response was actually against Afghanistan because the Taliban would not hand over one person held to be responsible.

    As for Iraq, it is possible to trace an indirect path from Saddam Hussain. It was his invasion of Kuwait that lead to US forces being left on Saudi soil, that lead to Osama Bin Ladin to be incensed by their very presence, which lead him and his cronies to indoctrinate 19 people to do what they did. Had SH not invaded Kuwait, 9/11 would not have happened, but whether he can be held directly responsible is moot. But he was one link in a chain of events, which lead to 9/11

  13. Miranda

    “The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life.” — Teddy Roosevelt

    And so it goes.

  14. MaW

    Mark: It’s in the interests of an administration interested in drumming up an excuse to invade Iran to make sure that September 11th stays in the public consciousness for as long as possible.

    FrankR: BA was referring to two sets of pointless dogma and ideology. The first is that held by the people who perpetrated the evil acts on that dreadful day. The second is that espoused by the current US administration which is leading them into war with Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and probably anybody else who looks at them sideways.

    Please, Americans, VOTE. I can’t help there, I’m British (I do of course vote in our own elections. Unfortunately lots of other people like voting for the other parties, but that doesn’t mean my vote doesn’t matter).

  15. Brian

    FrankR: If you were referring to pointless dogma and pointless ideology of the men who did this act, then I misinterpreted your post….

    Well, I can’t speak for BA, but I thought that that is what he did mean. I never even thought of the possibilty that he might have meant anything else.

  16. Quiet_Desperation

    >>> but this one is difficult to maneuver around.

    *shrug* I would not have thought less of you if you had.

    So let the sound an fury go elsewhere.

    Look at it economically. Say we have Author A who writes popular books and Singer S who performs popular songs. As it turns out, Author A can also sing a decent tune, and Singer S has a bit of a way with words. So, what is economically best? Should A also release some songs and S publish some writing?

    One of the few economic theories that actually works (the name escapes me, I’m afraid) states that, no, optimal economic efficieny is best served if A sticks to being an author and S sticks to being a singer?

    You savvy? I hope so, because I have only the faintest idea what I’m trying to say here. :)

    >>> They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a
    >>> little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

    A nice little quote, but I’m afraid we have to live in the real world, where things are relatively more complex.

    No, I don’t favor Bush (couldn’t be more disgusted with the guy) or the Patriot Act or such things, but there is more to be discussed and *real* work to be done after everyone runs out of quotes.

  17. Laura

    I find it terribly ironic that George W Bush could’ve become one of the greatest and most popular presidents in American history if only he had kept his promise to capture Osama Bin Laden, dead or alive. If he had finished the war in Afghanistan and destroyed the Taliban, a war for which he had the support of virtually the entire world, he would have been hailed as a great leader. If he’d been able, with the help of many other countries, to set up a stable government there and wipe out the sources of terrorism in that single country, he would’ve helped the world immensely, and would be considered a powerful figure with an enduring legacy.

    Instead he threw it all away for a war profiteering adventure in Iraq. I’d say, “what the HELL was he thinking?!??” but it’s obvious that all he was thinking about was profits for Halliburton and his old oil buddies. He didn’t give a damn about the people who died six years ago, and he doesn’t give a damn about the people of the country today. Witness New Orleans. He doesn’t care about the country one whit. Only profit, only helping out his rich friends.

    And yet, he could’ve been a great president despite his faults. How sickeningly ironic.

  18. Quiet_Desperation

    >>> Please, Americans, VOTE.

    No one I vote for seems to win. *shrug*

    But it doesn’t matter because thought is pretty much gerrymandered out at the Legislative level be it Federal or State.

    And the primaries winnow out any sane people anyway, so…

    Fortunately, I’m an utter misanthrope, so when the citizenry gets boned around by the government, I find it more amusing than anything. :)

  19. Kat

    Mark:
    For a generation or more after the second World War, Pearl Harbor *was* remembered publicly, with observances both military and civilian.

    The differences between that attack and this one are numerous, but the most important one is that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor almost sixty-six years ago, not six years ago. We are still enmeshed in the war we entered shortly after the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks—there have been no atomic devastations to shock the American people out of their grief and lust for revenge, and even the thousands of deaths in Iraq are not enough to distract the mass of Americans from what a recent poll revealed was the most significant event of their lives. There is still a construction site in lower Manhattan, and as long as that remains, there will be public memorials.

    You and I may feel no particular reason to call out September 11th as anything more than another Tuesday, but public respect for the grief of the families of those who died in the WTC or Pentagon or on United 93 will keep September 11 as a public day of mourning for a generation or more. In sixty years, when the children are grown and the wives and husbands and siblings have passed away, it *will* be just another day on the calendar.

    Sadly, in the mean time it will also continue to be fodder for politicians beating the war drums and eliminating civil liberties until it has been surpassed in the hearts and minds of the average American—with an event more striking and urgent, or simply by the passing of time.
    This is a disgusting abuse of power, but I am baffled by how we can prevent it as long as the average American is willing to allow it.

  20. Phil, thanks for posting this entry. I couldn’t agree more with this…

  21. FrankR, yes, you completely missed my point. Others have made this clear.

  22. Dr. Phil,

    I’m so, so very sorry.

    This day ought to be remembered as 11th November is in this country.

    I thought about blogging about it, but everything I wrote was twee.

    You got it right.

    “They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

    We will remember them”

  23. Phil, I agree with you, to a point. The war in Iraq is something I think was a very bad move. The patriot act and other bush policy overstepped the bounds of what the government should be able to do. The using of 9/11 as justification for actions in Iraq and the poor management of military and foreign policy are all valid issues.

    But that does not change the fact that the Taliban and Al Queda are truely evil and they should be destroyed. They need to be destroyed. Bin Laden is a terrorist and I have no sympathy for him. Not withstanding the war in Iraq or the fact that the CIA may or may not have sought his help in the 1980′s in preventing the Soviets from getting a foothold in Afganistan.

    None of that is relevant and that is my biggest problem with Bush: That his BS clouded the issue and made this about US and not them.

    Iraq aside. Iraq is not the first time the US made a stupid move militarilly or went to war when it probably should not have. The Mexican American War; the Vietnam War and to a degree the Spanish American war. But how does that change anything? The US makes mistakes. Our government is prone to blunder and the mentality of the public is fickle.

    Be that as it may, it no more makes Bin Laden an okay guy then it does Hitler.

    You know who was wrong during the second world war? Hitler was. And his axis supporters were too.

    And the US did some things that weren’t, in hindsight, the most honorable. We sent Japanese families to relocation camps. We firebombed Dresden, arguably out of anger and with dubious strategic potential. We didn’t oppose the Soviet Union in capturing territory and imposing totalitarian law. We let some escape justice if we thought they could help give critical information afterward….

    All this is true. But, just the same: Hitler was wrong. He was even “evil” and his death was welcome and met with no sympathy. He deserved none.

    And the fact that we have made mistakes, overstepped bounds or mad poor military policy now no more absolves Bin Laden or the 19 hijackers or the planners of other attacks, or those who funnel money to Bin Laden of guilt than the relocation camps and racist propaganda of the second world war absolves Hitler and Goering and Himmler.

    Bush is an idiot. He should read a book. Bin Laden is a terrorist. He should die.

  24. tacitus

    I don’t believe that Bush, Cheney, and their cronies went into Iraq just for oil, or just for profit. But I also don’t believe for one moment that they went into Iraq to seize WMDs or fight Al Qaida (a ridiculous notion).

    Invading Iraq was about the neocons wanting to use America’s available muscle to try and force an outcome in the Middle East tailored towards some right-wing ideological vision of the Middle East molded in America’s image that Cheney and his buddies have had for decades.

    The initial military victory in Iraq was always going to be easy. It was no contest, but things went wrong from the day after “Mission Accomplished”. The neocon vision expected us to be greeted as liberators and for the vast resources of capitalism unfettered by democratic bureaucracy to put Iraq back together again in no time. It would be the neocon dream turned into a nightmare for millions of innocent Iraqis.

    Perhaps if the plan and its execution had been carried out by the finest, most qualified minds available, perhaps there would have been the slimmest of chances for success, but when the only qualification needed for the job was to be a Bush booster or Cheney crony, the whole escapade was doomed to utter failure from the start.

    9/11 was a tragedy perpetrated by evil, deluded people driven on by an enemy who still lives free to taunt us from afar-one man the mighty resources of the USA have failed to bring to justice. Meanwhile we have been complicit in an even greater tragedy in Iraq, one in which perhaps a hundred times as many innocent lives have been lost or tragically ruined forever.

    We should remember 9/11 and the lives and victims taken on that day. But, as Phil says, we cannot be blind to the consequences of America’s actions taken, in response to that tragedy, both at home and abroad. If we don’t then the terrorists have already won and our way of life has been changed forever.

  25. ECW

    If you step outside your normal frame of reference and really observe the human race, they sure are peculiar. 24,000 people die from hunger everyday around the world, but I’m supposed to mourn 2,400 strangers who died six years ago because their deaths created an especially dramatic spectacle on the evening news? It’s like a macabre fireworks display, people can’t comprehend a skyscraper falling down so they deem it the most significant event of the century.

    It’s significant because the act was particularly “evil”? Unfortunately we don’t live in a world where there is good and evil, at least not beyond the scope of the individual. When it gets large enough, every government (or terrorist organization) is the same, and moral judgement is always relative to the judge’s perspective. It’s the greatest evil ever for al-Qaeda to attack civilians in what they perceive as a war against the United States, but a regrettable necessity of World War II for the RAF/USAAF to burn tens of thousands of civilians alive during the firebombing of Dresden. Consolidated power of any sort always leads to suffering, it’s a tragic irony that it’s also vital to human progress.

    I’m not criticizing anyone for mourning 9/11 or trying to be a pretentious cynic, I’m just saying there’s an interesting complexity to a society’s empathy. Just remember though, which do you think al-Qaeda was hoping for: an America who will “never forget”, or an America going about business as usual?

  26. Quiet_Desperation

    >>>as long as the average American is willing to allow it.

    OK, how do I prevent it? I’m a little tired of everything in the world being dumped on my shoulders simply because I live here.

    I didn’t vote for Bush. I treat rigid ideology like ebola. I look at every situation individually. I try to educate others when I feel it appropriate.

    I don;t vote for either Big Dumb Party if I don’t like the candidates, and then get admonished for “wasting” my vote. Exactly how voting for someone I don’t like *isn’t* wasting my vote I have yet to discern.

    I don’t let fear get to me. In 2004, I deliberately arraigned a work trip so that I would fly home on September 11. Well, yeah, I also knew the plane would be half empty and I’d have a whole row to myself (which I did), but that’s beside the point. Really. :)

    Other than armed insurrection, which would most likely get me pointlessly killed (not to mention I consider it barbaric), what do you suggest?

    Give money to opposing groups? The Democrats have nothing to offer me as a productive citizen.

    Activists groups? I look at places like moveon.org and my head explodes. Same old ideological crap. Endless volumes of criticism of the current regime, but hardly a new idea or solution offered. No thanks. Think I’ll buy a Wii instead.

    So… what?

  27. I agree 100%, Phil.

    Everyone needs to see the movie “9/11: Press for Truth.” No, it’s not a conspiracy movie; it’s a documentary using mainstream press sources, mostly videos, and interviews showing how our government failed to protect us, and then tried–and for the most part successfully–to completely avoid any responsibility.

  28. Quiet_Desperation:

    If you’re looking for an activist organization with new ideas, logical and rational ideas that will work, I suggest you check out DownsizeDC.org. Especially the Read the Bills Act, which I believe to be one of the most important bills which must be passed if we are to ever have any hope of reigning in this government.

  29. FrankR

    Phil:
    I do apologize then.

  30. Chris

    Very well said, Phil.

  31. tacitus

    If you step outside your normal frame of reference and really observe the human race, they sure are peculiar. 24,000 people die from hunger everyday around the world, but I’m supposed to mourn 2,400 strangers who died six years ago because their deaths created an especially dramatic spectacle on the evening news?

    Well now you’re probably entering the realm of human and evolutionary psychology. Disasters always affect the psyche more than a trickle of deaths — just look at the fuss made over a plane crash killing a couple of hundred people as opposed to the thousands who die on the roads every year. The NTSB just issued a report saying that the number of motorcyclists who have died since helmet laws were repealed has doubled. Where’s the outrage?

    Similarly, we feel the deaths of people closer to us more–our family, our local town or city, our state, our alma mater, our country. People who think that it’s better to “fight them over there, so we don’t have to fight them over here” implicitly value American lives over that of Iraqis. That value has already far exceeded one American life for every ten Iraqis, and could be as much as 1 to 100 by the time it is all over.

    Perhaps if our very existence was on the line, as in WW2, that could be justified, but the current hysteria of “it’s either them or us” is simply unsupportable propaganda being used to prop up the failed Bush administration policies.

    It is human nature to mourn tragedies that are connected to us in some way, so it is useless to deny or reject it. The harder task is to keep those events in perspective, and to remember that human life is precious, no matter what nationality, tribe, or race you belong to.

  32. Dom

    While we are on quotes I have one I think you will like Phil. Unfortunately nothing to do with the point at hand but I thought you might appreciate it:

    Do not believe in anything simply because you have
    heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is
    spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in
    anything simply because it is found written in your
    religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on
    the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not
    believe in traditions because they have been handed
    down for many generations. But after observation and
    analysis, when you find that anything agrees with
    reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one
    and all, then accept it and live up to it.

    -Siddhârtha Gautama, the Buddha

  33. KaiYeves

    Benjamin Franklin. Good quotes, BA. You can count on this Vegan visitor to stand by you through thick and thin. Come what may, we will go on. On that day, the peaceful age I had known my entire life ended. The world of Sojourner and The Phantom Menace seemed gone. I believe that the best memorial we can give them is another great and peaceful age. An ended war and a reaching back for the stars.
    Their memorial and that of Columbia shall be in moondust and regolith, a rest as eternal as the stars.
    We can do it. As Franklin also said:
    “We must all (now) hang together or we shall all hang … seperately.”

    And if none of this makes any sense, I’m sorry. But this is NOT off your topic.

  34. In the vein of “government was all too-easily fed by the population’s fear”, I urge you to watch the short film created for Naomi Campbell’s book “The Shock Doctrine”:

    http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine/short-film

  35. uh.. Naomi KLEIN… guess we all know where my head is it :/

  36. “The NTSB just issued a report saying that the number of motorcyclists who have died since helmet laws were repealed has doubled. Where’s the outrage?”

    Myself, I find it hard to be outraged about this, since these people chose not to wear a helmet and suffered the consequences of their own short-sightedness, they have reaped what they have sown, it’s no one else’s fault but theirs, go Darwin.

  37. strangeangel23

    Sean F wrote:

    > uh.. Naomi KLEIN… guess we all know where my head is it :/

    I was going to say…

    Please note: Klein’s economic/political views (like my own) are designed to give Michael Shermer types ulsers (as they should)…so be warned.

    Great blog, Mr. BA, BTW…keep them coming.

    Now back to reading about those flying nebulae thingies blogg’d above.

  38. Pierre

    Great post, Phil.

    You should all check out the Star Trek TNG’s 4th season episode “The Drumhead”. Back when it was made it was about the witchhunts in the 50s, but it is now much more relevant. Some nice quotes:

    “Sir, the Federation does have enemies! We must seek them out!”
    “Oh, yes. That’s how it starts! But the road from legitimate suspicion to rampant paranoia is very much shorter than we think. Something is wrong here, Mr. Worf. I don’t like what we have become!”

    ” ‘ With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.’ Those words were uttered by Judge Aaron Satie as wisdom and warning… The first time any man’s freedom is trodden on we’re all damaged.”

    “We think we’ve come so far. Torture of heretics, burning of witches, it’s all ancient history. And then, before you can blink an eye, suddenly it threatens to start all over again.”

    “Mr. Worf, villains who twirl their mustaches are easy to spot. Those who clothe themselves in good deeds are well-camouflaged.”

    “…she, or someone like her, will always be with us – waiting for the right climate in which to flourish. Spreading fear in the name of righteousness. Vigilance, Mr. Worf; that is the price we have to continually pay.”

    One of the best TNG episodes, in my opinion. It’s pretty depressing to think that nowadays something like that would never be said on syndicated television…

  39. Great post, Mr. Plait. I couldn’t have said it any better, myself.

  40. Grand Lunar

    Good post, Phil.
    But you also leave out how conspiracy theorists take advantage of 9/11 as well, and shame the memory of those that have died.

    Pierre, excellent comment! Indeed, that episode reflects what the Bush administration became.
    He did fine in the few months after 9/11. But when he started on about Iraq, I shared Laura’s (see her post) thought; what the HELL is he messing with Iraq for? We need to go after Osama! Hussien isn’t a threat!
    I find it odd how many of my former shipmates and friends in the navy supported Bush. I was one of the few that dissaproved of his idea of going into Iraq. I never voiced my opinion, though. It might have gotten me in trouble.

    I only hope that the senseless war will come to an end, and Iraq can rebuild itself after Bush screwed it up.

  41. The only thing to fear, is fear itself!

  42. xav0971

    hey pierre, that was one of my favorite episodes too. those quotes are soo true. I was reading that in Patrick Stewart’s voice. lol

  43. DrFlimmer

    It’s not only “America” going mad after that day.
    Germany had much luck that we had an election in 2002, and the candidate winning it was elected because he promised not to go into Iraq! One of very few promises hold by a politician.
    But luck changes! They are debating about a law that will enable police (and all those authorities) to spy out private computers unknown to the owner… and that because of “protecting the people, fighting against terror”. Of course, of course! It won’t be long and police will arrest me because, while they were fighting against terror, they found some “terroristical” mp3-files on my computer!
    BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU! It’s just around the corner!

  44. Quiet_Desperation

    >>> The NTSB just issued a report saying that the number
    >>> of motorcyclists who have died since helmet laws were
    >>> repealed has doubled. Where’s the outrage?

    Where’s the proven causation behind the correlation?

    Shame on you! ;-)

  45. ECW: I could not disagree with you more. World hunger is a problem and it’s a hard one to take care of. There’s a lot of politics involved and building sustainable resources. You could make the case that not enough effort is being put into solving such problems..

    Helmet laws are a philosophical issue of personal choice and risk vs safety of the individual as part of public policy. Again, you could make a case that the inaction of making riders wear helmets is a problem.

    These pale in comparison to attempting to kill as many civilians as possible by whatever means necessary and with no reason other than a desire for death of Americans or infidels any other group…

    “Unfortunately we don’t live in a world where there is good and evil”

    That I could not disagree with more. Some things are a “grey area” where they may be relative or based on judgement and 20/20 hindsight.

    But Bin Laden, Al Queda, Hitler, The Nazis, The KKK, Vlad the Empailer, John Wayne Gacey, Jim Jones and his henchmen at Jonestown…

    That is undoubtedly evil. If the word “evil” sounds too juvenile and emotional, replace it with “Highly unethical and generally opposing social progress” or “Unjustified and tending toward morally indefensible actions”

    Call it what you want. To me, “Evil” fits.

  46. Sergeant Zim

    While we’re doing quotes, here’s another one or two:

    “When fascism arrives in America it will come wrapped in the flag, and carrying a cross” (I can’t remember the source)

    “This is how Democracy ends” Princess Amadala

  47. I was nine-elevened out four years ago. I honestly didn’t mourn my grandmother this long, and I actually knew her personally. Oh, and don’t tell me she did not die in a traumatic event. Metastatic cancer is very traumatic, and worse, it’s slow. I sympathize with anyone who has lost a loved one, but I can’t help but feel that 9/11 is played for politics these days, more than it is a matter of human suffering.

    It seems more and more like we are turning this into a bizarre ritual that almost borders on death-worship, and that to me, is a tragedy in and of itself.

  48. Thanks for posting this Phil. It still needs to be said.

  49. David Hall

    Wow! I am amazed–most blogs posting such sentiments would get tons of “America: Love it or Leave it,” “God Bless America, God Damn Everyone Else,” type stuff. I don’t think I have seen such a majority of reasoned responses to a blog comment before.

    Bad Science has some SMART readers!

  50. bad Jim

    Yes, Bad Astronomy has lots of smart readers, but don’t sell us Americans short. Here are two more quotations appropriate to the occasion:

    Lincoln:

    “You may fool all the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all the time.”

    Jefferson:

    “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

  51. As the events of 2001/9/11 unfolded — I remembered flipping between BBC, CNN and Fox (quickly settling on BBC because the others were too hysterical, especially Fox), after the initial shock and disbelief, and then grief, I thought of the other 9/11.

    The military coup against Salvador Allende in Chile, 1973/9/11. At the time it just seemed like a (not-so-)funny coincidence, but the similarities are deeper than I realized at first. In both countries the democratic systems were hijacked, by the military in Chile and by the neo-cons in the USA. In both, normal conditions were not restored for years (it’s an open-ended timeline when it comes to this country).

    Still, there is hope for change. 14 months and counting, unless Congress got so fed up (or enough members fear for their jobs) that they impeach both Bush and Cheney.

  52. morkk

    drbuzz sed:

    But that does not change the fact that the Taliban and Al Queda are truely evil and they should be destroyed. They need to be destroyed. Bin Laden is a terrorist and I have no sympathy for him.

    I say you should google the following:

    Salvador Allende
    Panama & the Contras
    Guatemala Human Rights Commission

    You’ll discover that there is at least one other country supporting an organization that is truly evil and should be destroyed.

  53. Linus

    Well to those of you who call people evil (be those people bin Laden, Hitler or others) all I have to say is that evil is just the opposite of what is considered good by the community. What one person will think of as good another will think of as evil. I agree that bin Laden and more importantly Al Qaida should be brought down before they do more harm.
    But let us try to take a leap of imagination and see what the world would be like if Hitler and the Axis had won World War 2. A fact that would have affected me quite a lot since I live in Denmark. Do you think that they would be regarded as evil by their own? Or would Brittain and the USA be the evil ones because of their firebombings etc.?
    Personally I think the answer is clear. Unfortunately (or perhaps not so unfortunately) I will never be able to prove it.

  54. George

    Laura,

    I thought we agreed we wouldn’t talk about this in public.

  55. gazza666

    Linus – the position you’re describing is “moral relativism”. And it’s philosophically self defeating.

    Bashing infants brains in, rape, and forcing someone to listen to muzak are not morally acceptable to any sane person. Not saying that grey areas don’t exist, but that doesn’t mean that black and white don’t exist.

  56. Andrew

    As a Brit I commend Phil on his courage to speak out, and applaud the fellow BA readers that support the issue raised.

    I have to issue with the gentleman that drew a parallel with Dresden. Britain and its allies – including the US – had (in 1939) issuded a formal declaration of War against Germany (and her allies). You fail to mention the German bombing of London, the blanket bombing of Coventry or Liverpool. There were firestorms in all three cities costing the lives of many cilivilians and civil defence workers – as well as military people. The legitimacy of the targets? In each case they were deemed of strategic military importance. London being the capital city (which is why Berlin was also bombed regularly), Liverpool being the port of entry of goods and supplies from our allies and Commonwealth; Coventry being a centre of war production; Dresden being a the major German rail transport hub.

    I’m not saying the actions were right or wrong.

    As to Osama Bin Laden. The man is misguided and a religious zealot – who are dangerous at the best of times. However, the US armed him – and trained him! – initially in their fight against the Russians in Afghanistan. Had the US not insisted upon staying Saudi Arabia after Gulf War 1 – on a ‘just in case’ basis – I warrant that he and his cronies would have had little support for the unrest that they were able to stoke, in much the same way that Hitler did – and that culminated in Kristalnacht!

    Now, where is that stuff about the nebula picture. Far more interesting and relevant….

  57. (heart)

    I do observe a tendency in the US to abuse anniversaries, intended to contemplate reason and effect, for reasons of commerce or politics, but reading the overwhelmingly reasonable responses here really cheered me up a great deal today.

    It prooves clearly that despite the image of the flag-waving, blindly patriotic US-citizen so favored in many countries, it is not all like that – as in all societies there’s a lot more than the image we perceive.

    Needless to say that 9/11 must be remembered, but it is for the right reasons and with a sense for proportion. Many people have lost their lives, many had their lives changed for all eternity and even more are acquainted to someone whose life has been deeply affected by these tragic event. So for very many people, in and outside the United States, it will remain a day that will be remembered for a long, long time.

    But it is their, and our, duty to not let anyone take over their, and our, personal hurt and turn it into some powerful tool aiming at the wrong people, causing more suffering and resentment!

    (not a native speaker either – spelling & grammer mistakes belong to the author, but can be used freely in your own work – please donate to charity if you like my spelling & grammar mistakes)

  58. Since we’re collecting quotes:
    “…voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
    — Hermann Göring.

  59. A couple of points I’d like to make.

    First, NOBODY does anything in the name of God. They use god (whatever god) for their own personal reasons – not because of God’s will.

    Bin Laden is a fraud in regards to being a holy man as is George Bush. They are cut from the same cloth.

    There obviously aren’t any real gods but if there was and he or they created this entire universe I think they would be well beyond the childish, primitive emotions set forth in holy books. It is beyond comprehension that a god who could create the universe we live in also wants us to kill others because they believe different things. God is a myth. Religion has no redeeming value at all.

    Second, Bush’s only personal reason for going into Iraq was because he thought he’d be remembered as a big-shot war president instead of the loser he had been at every important juncture in his life up to then. That he surrounded himself with nefarious men who connived to invade Iraq for personal profits just made it easier for Bush to do it, but as has been said, Bush didn’t invade Iraq for oil, wmd’s or anything else tangible. For him it was all about his ego and that’s the whole story.

  60. Tom

    As someone who frequently criticizes Phil’s hyperbole in his politically-related posts, I have to say this one isn’t bad. It calls into question the human trait of blindly following an ideology to an end, without giving much thought to what that end might be. Everyone should occasionally stop what they’re doing and try to view their actions from the outside, whether you’re blindly following a religious leader, blindly following a political leader, or blindly criticizing one.

    I am very curious as how history will view this time. I guess it depends on who wins.

  61. As long as we’re doing quotations, here’s one of my favorites:

    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” –H.L. Mencken, 1920

  62. Daffy

    Bush and Cheney’s buddies at Halliburton have made billions from rebuilding Iraq twice. They have now relocated to Dubai to avoid paying taxes on it.

    Any questions?

  63. DennyMo

    BA seems confused by one major point: this is at least the second time you’ve claimed Bush lied about the reasons for going into Iraq without offering any supporting evidence. Everyone – US, UK, UN, Iraq’s neighbors – thought Hussein had WMDs. His shenanigans with the UN weapons inspectors during the mid and late 90′s sure made it *look* like he was hiding evidence of WMDs. I don’t think anyone can be faulted for believing he had them.

    So we were faced with a regime who:
    - we thought had WMDs
    - was using rhetoric that indicated a willingness to use them
    - was guilty of several Geneva Convention violations in his wars with two neighbors
    - was paying Palestinian terrorists to launch attacks against Israel
    - had a history of “ethnic cleansing” initiatives within his borders

    Is this enough to justify the coalition invasion? I don’t know, but it is a persuasive set of conditions. Did we go in with lousy post-war planning? Absolutely, folks should be strung up for that. How much longer should we stay there trying to fix something we broke? As long as the majority of Iraqis are still working their butts off along side us. (And from what friends who were deployed there tell me, they apparently are in many situations.)

    Does any of this Iraq war argument justify “forgetting” 9-11? Absolutely not.

  64. I agree with you wholeheartedly.

    Blogs and message boards and any other place on the internet is great for spouting how much we dislike our current government, but no one is actually doing anything about it. We keep losing rights and freedoms, all for the sake of “security”, little by little, and before we know it, there will be nothing left to take.

    Our rights are like muscles – if you don’t use them, exercise them, they will go away.

  65. Tom

    I totally agree with you Phil.

    I have a very nice new flag still in the plastic wrap that I was ready to proudly fly after the last election. But after realizing that Dubya cheated his way into the job again, the flag remains wrapped in my basement. For now my old cheap flag will fly on special days. I’m saving the nice one for the day that he is out of office.

    As for 9/11, there is still something just odd about how a jetliner would leave such a small hole in the side of the Pentagon. Where did the wings and engines go??

  66. Gary Ansorge

    Denny Mo: I lived and worked in Saudi Arabia off and on over a 40 year period. The last time was in 1989/90. It was understood then, by most Saudiis and Americans, that the US regarded Arabia as a US national asset, which was justification for keeping US troops on Saudi soil, a goal sought by virtually every US president since WWII, but which had been rejected by every Saudi monarch, until the Iraq/Kuwaiti debacle. I don’t know what behind the scenes political maneuvering allowed the US to accomplish its goal(of a permanent troop presence) in 1991. I know the then King asked the US to withdraw soon after the reclamation of Kuwait. It didn’t happen then. Perhaps the real reason for taking down Saddam had to do with maintaining a rationale for our troop presence in Arabia.
    ,,,which is, of course, why Osama was able to rally the religious fervor of Saudi citizens. Is Osama evil? From our perspective, anyone who opposes us is evil. From Osamas POV, we’re the evil ones. Good and evil are simplistic points of view, a way of reducing the complexity of human interaction to something that we can understand.

    The point is this: As long as we maintain a US troop presence in Arabia, we’re going to be pissing off moslems who regard this country as sacred. The next president will have to address that issue and decide if inciting terrorist activity is worth that presence.

    Gary 7
    PS: as my dear old great grandma used to say: “If you believe nothing of what you hear and only 10% of what you read, you’ll probably do all right,,,”
    For a woman born in 1880, that’s pretty insightful.

  67. Good and evil do not exist objectively. There is no machine or unit of measure that can be used to quantify good and evil. It is not an inherent property of an act or person. It cannot be seen, heard, or in any way be detected by our senses or a device. Good and evil are concepts; ideas; constructions; inventions created by humans. They are definitions.

    Like any definition, they are inventions created to serve a purpose and meet the needs of those that use it. There is no such thing as a wrong definition. It doesn’t make sense. All definitions establish what “true” is. They are the rules. So, if you don’t like the rule or it doesn’t suit your purposes, you can modify it or use another definition.

    We all use concepts of good and evil that are a mixture of our own definitions and definitions received from other sources, society, religion, family, etc. As people’s needs change, so do their definitions of good and evil. What counts as good or as evil is a matter of not just the observed act, but of the definition being used. Since different people use different definitions, you will wind up with disagreements as to the degree to which something is good or evil. Even within the same person you can observe differences in their assessments over time. It depends upon their current definition.

    If you say someone is good or evil, you are not just speaking about another person. You are revealing something about your personal definitions. In essence you are saying that the observed person meets *your* definition of good or evil. No act or person is inherently good or evil. The act or person simply exists. Its goodness or evilness are assessments that depend upon an observer.

    We often use the word “evil” to describe people as if it was an explanation as to why they do what they do. But its explanatory power is very weak (if it exists at all). It also has little predictive power. To better explain and predict people’s behavior, I suggest looking at their values (i.e. definitions) and their beliefs.

    For a simple example, Osama bin Laden is enfuriated that the U.S. has military bases in Saudi Arabia. From his values, he regards Saudi Arabia as holy. He regards the U.S. as unholy. From other beliefs that he holds, he regards the presence of a non-muslim military force residing near his dearly beloved holy cities to be a grevious afront. He is deeply offended and wants the American presence removed. To him and others like him, the American presence meets their definition of evil. The notion of fighting against this evil meets their definition of good. To shorten and simplify, Osama et al. seek to rectify what they perceive as evil by doing what they perceive as good; namely violently striking at the U.S. as a means to getting their needs met.

    The same can be said for GW Bush. He sees that Osama has violently struck his country, which he holds as dear and is responsible for. Osama’s acts meet GW’s definition of bad and he seeks to rectify what he percieves as evil by doing what he percieves as good; namely violently striking at Afganistan. Again, the notion of fighting against this evil meets his definition of good.

    In both cases, both are retaliating against a perceived evil. That is, both observe the other to meet their definition of evil. Many people are dead on both sides. The families of the innocent dead on both sides will likely mourn their losses and percieve the person behind the attack that killed their loved one as evil.

    But Osama did not do what he did because he was objectively “evil” and either did George Bush. Both acted on their values (which are definitions) in response to events. If you understand someome’s values and beliefs, you will be better able to predict their behavior than if you are satisfied with the simple explanation that they are evil.

  68. K

    Ha, I voted because I thought I was doing my part. Kerry was better than Bush so I registered for the first time and voted. Not only voted, but went to the official office to vote because my given place to vote was a church. Um, separation of church and state anyone? It wasn’t morally right to me so I didn’t go there AND I wrote the ACLU, but they didn’t care. I also made sure I voted on paper, not the machine, because I had read there were problems with the machine. That didn’t seem to bother anyone else and you’ll notice that no one has looked into it either. Didn’t it come out toward the end of the election that Diebold said something about making sure Bush would win or am I remembering wrong? When I got there, they did not check my ID but I voted. When I left I asked some of the people I knew who voted if anyone checked their ID and not only did they notice, but they voted (for Bush) multiple times.
    After all of that, I was sitting in a smoothie shop when the tv said that Kerry quit the race. That little sniveling coward quit. Couldn’t man-up and ride it out, but quit.
    Yeah, like I’ll ever vote again. My vote is worthless. What other action do you propose to do or is this more empty talk? The other thing I’ve learned throughout the Bush administration is that EVERYONE talks big and bad about how terrible he is but no one is doing anything but talking.

  69. DennyMo – Your last post is utter nonsense. “Everybody” didn’t “know” Saddam had WMD’s.

    A lot of people KNEW Saddam DIDN’T have them including US and foreign intelligence agencies.

    The “mid and late ’90′s” were well in advance of weapons inspectors in Iraq in 2002 who said there was no evidence of wmd’s.

    Are you saying it’s ok to attack countries based on intelligence 8 years out of date?

    I knew Saddam didn’t have wmd’s. I had no vested interest in believing that. It was obvious to anyone who wanted to know. The people who didn’t know either deliberately didn’t know or didn’t do any research at all. They bought the white house lies hook, line and sinker.

    There is no excuse for anyone who supported this war. War should be a last resort. By last resort I don’t mean exasperated with failing diplomacy. I mean either you fight or you die (or are enslaved, etc.). What that means is that it’s not an option to sit back and call yourself a patriot because you support the war effort in words only. If the war was something worth fighting and you did that you’d be dead pretty quickly.

    Saddam had a joke of an army, no air force to speak of, no navy and no means to do any harm to the US.

    I wish I could just laugh at people who were stupid enough to be scared of a third rate, impotant dictator thousands of miles away. But I can’t because too many people have died or are living miserably because of this war.

    I have nothing but contempt for this president, anyone in the house who voted for this war (regardless of political party) and anyone who supports this war. There is no excuse for not having known that Saddam was no threat to us.

    What kills me is when wingers start talking about how we “freed 50 million people.” Since when are wingers humanitarians? I’m not even going into the kind of “freedom” Iraqis have now as it’s obvious not something that if an American were living it they would call “freedom.”

    But the fact is the people who allowed Saddam to come into power and did nothing about it deserve what they got. They didn’t have the fortitude to fight their own war so even if we give them their freedom they won’t keep it. They didn’t do anything to earn their freedom. Anything given to a person has about 1/1000 the value of that same thing if they earn it for themselves.

    And yeah, I know the French helped us fight our war for independence. But we fought it ourselves – they didn’t fight it for us.

    Anyway, I know the right wing war-mongers never take personal responsibility for anything so I don’t expect them to take responsibility for beating the war drums for an illegal war that we lost. And if it helps you sleep at night to lie to yourself and claim “everyone knew Saddam had wmd’s” then no one can stop you. But a whole lot of us knew better and you had no excuse for not knowing. Tell yourself anything you want but don’t expect others to buy into it.

  70. Gary Ansorge – Your point about occupying foreign lands is dead on.

    How many foreign military bases are on US soil? We wouldn’t tolerate it but it’s ok for us to occupy foreign countries because, Hey! It’s us!

  71. Irishman

    Laura said:
    > I find it terribly ironic that George W Bush could’ve become one of the greatest and most popular presidents in American history if only he had kept his promise to capture Osama Bin Laden, dead or alive. If he had finished the war in Afghanistan and destroyed the Taliban, a war for which he had the support of virtually the entire world, he would have been hailed as a great leader. If he’d been able, with the help of many other countries, to set up a stable government there and wipe out the sources of terrorism in that single country, he would’ve helped the world immensely, and would be considered a powerful figure with an enduring legacy.

    Yes, this is an important point for reflection. Bush came out of 9/11 with the support and sympathies of most of the world. Going in to Afghanistan was a defensible call where the government of Afghanistan was harboring the fugitives. Turning Afghanistan into a stable democracy, hunting down Bin Laden, and routing Al Qaeda out would have cemented Bush as a great President. He managed to squander that good will and turn large parts of Europe against us, and get us entrenched in Iraq under false pretexts.

    Quiet_Desperation said:
    > But it doesn’t matter because thought is pretty much gerrymandered out at the Legislative level be it Federal or State.

    Yes, I was noting that for the last 2 Presidential elections my vote was irrelevant.

    tacitus said:
    > Invading Iraq was about the neocons wanting to use America’s available muscle to try and force an outcome in the Middle East tailored towards some right-wing ideological vision of the Middle East molded in America’s image that Cheney and his buddies have had for decades.

    The sad part is if they had kept on track in Afghanistan, they might have had their ideological success and a model for other Islamic countries to emulate. Instead, they set their sights on Iraq and have let Afghanistan fall by the wayside.

  72. DennyMo

    I never said war with Iraq was the right decision or justified. I had misgivings about invading Iraq in late 2002 that carry through to the present. I *was* expressing my frustration at the repeated and unsupported claims that Bush “lied” about the reasons we went in. If you have sources, I’d appreciate a cite, something that documents “Here’s what was said on this date, and here is what the truth really was, and here’s who knew it and how they knew it AT THAT TIME.” Some folks need to stop ranting so much before they pass out from hyperventilation.

    Caffeenman, I won’t address your silly and demeaning generalizations. (I’m pretty sure I’m not a “winger”, by the way…) But your math sure is funny, where’d you get that “8 years” from? Saddam’s cat-n-mouse games with the inspectors and international community continued until shortly before the invasion. It wasn’t until the invasion was imminent that his government began back pedaling, and by then it was pretty much too late.

    Pray tell, how did you “know” that Saddam had no WMDs? Were you a member of the inspection teams? Did you have access to intelligence reports? If “everyone else knew”, why didn’t they argue more strongly against the evidence when Sec. Powell went to the UN? I recall France speaking up, but it was never to say, “No, he doesn’t have WMDs!” Their argument was, “Even if he does, war is not the answer.” While that is a valid debate, it’s not refutation of the question.

    “War should be a last resort. By last resort I don’t mean exasperated with failing diplomacy.” Without the gift of retrospect, how do you determine if “now” is or isn’t the right time to scale up? Bin Laden had demonstrated you didn’t have to be a “traditional” military power to reach out and hit us hard, claiming Saddam was no threat to the US is wishful thinking.

    Gary, thanks for your insights. Your real world experience in the area is very helpful in framing the discussion.

    Irishman, I think your last comment regarding Afghanistan is spot on.

  73. Irishman

    K said:
    > When I got there, they did not check my ID but I voted. When I left I asked some of the people I knew who voted if anyone checked their ID and not only did they notice, but they voted (for Bush) multiple times.

    Something definitely wrong with that precinct.

    Tom said:
    > As for 9/11, there is still something just odd about how a jetliner would leave such a small hole in the side of the Pentagon. Where did the wings and engines go??

    Did you read http://fire.nist.gov/bfrlpubs/build03/PDF/b03017.pdf , especially Section 6?

    It is possible that less of the right wing than the left wing entered the building because the right wing struck the facade crossing the level of the second-floor slab. The strength of the second-floor slab in its own plane would have severed the right wing approximately at the location of the right engine. The left wing did not encounter a slab, so it penetrated more easily.
    In any event, the evidence suggests that the tips of both wings did not make direct contact with the facade of the building and that portions of the wings might have been separated from the fuselage before the aircraft struck the building. This is consistent with eyewitness statements that the right wing struck a large generator before the aircraft struck the building and that the left engine struck a ground-level, external vent structure. It is possible that these impacts, which occurred not more than 100 ft before the nose of the aircraft struck the building, may have damaged the wings and caused debris to strike the Pentagon facade and the heliport control building.

    Figure 6.1 shows that the hole in the side of the Pentagon pre-collapse was sufficiently large to include the engines. The projected width of the hole was 90 feet on the ground floor. If you look at Figure 3.1 for the airplane dimensions, you find that the wheel base was 24 ft, and the scale figure shows that the engine to engine width (outside to outside) is approximately 3 times that width, or 72 feet. 90 ft is clearly wider than the engine to engine width of the plane.

    I’m not sure where you get the impression the hole was small. It was 120 feet long on the ground floor, before the collapse. Perhaps you’re looking at the hole to “AE Drive”, the interior corridor between A and B ring?

    Recap: the wing tips hit structure prior to impacting the facade of the Pentagon, and the hole in the facade was large enough to include the engines and bulk of the wings. Once the airplane was inside the building, the drag of the engines and remaining wings against support columns rapidly exceeded the structural strength of the wings, and folded them into the rest of the fuselage wreckage.

  74. Chris

    All the rhetoric against Bush in the world doesnt cover up the fact that everyone from the left AND the right supported these actions at the time. Everyone saw the same evidence and almost everyone was in agreement that this was all a good idea. Then things get rough and suddenly its all the Bush admin’s fault? Democrats say he “lied”. About what? YOU AUTHORIZED his actions, you saw the same intelligence! Laughable.
    Granted, the situation has changed over the years, and choices have been made since then which are arguable. Perhaps we should have left by now. Perhaps taking such action was mistaken. But lest everyone forget, immediately after 9/11 it was members of the left chastizing the Bush administration for NOT taking intelligence seriously and preventing the attack – which is precisely what was done with Iraq intelligence and now it is considered a huge mistake. Damned if you do, damned if you dont.

  75. Dutch

    Since we are submitting quotes, here is another.

    Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse the marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: That Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.

    You don’t want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me there.

    We use words like honor, code, loyalty…we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use ‘em as a punchline.

    I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it. I’d prefer you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you’re entitled to.

  76. Cyberg00se

    Ummm, Dutch, you do realize the context of that monologue right? These are the words of a character whose idealogy is about to implode on him. This character is at the end of his line and now his ideology no longer rationalizes his actions.

    That’s the context of that monologue, so what you intended to be serious actually comes off as hilarious, because you just proved the point of Phil’s blog post without even meaning to.

    If you think a soldier is right to rationalize the murder of one of their own in such a way, you have problems bigger than this blog. If you think that it’s ok that military leaders are not accountable by law, then you must not believe in the checks and balances built into our government by the constitution.

    Those checks and balances were designed to protect us from such megalomaniacs.

  77. Dutch

    Cybergoose
    You must have some sort of ESP. The only words that I wrote, were the following.
    “Since we are submitting quotes, here is another.”

    I gave no other context or indication of my view. And yet you can tell all those things about me. What evidence do you have? This is a skeptics blog. Your statements about what I was trying to do have no basis in reality. They are purely conjecture on your part. You have no evidence to support you statement. I am therefore skeptical of anything that you write or communicate.

  78. DennyMo

    Anybody claiming or speculating it wasn’t a full-size jetliner that hit the Pentagon has pretty much lost all credibility in anything related to structural or technical discussions of what happened on 9/11. Landing gear, engine assemblies, several tons of other aircraft residue were all found, photographed, and removed from the Pentagon. It’s a shame we still have to spend so much time and energy debunking such idiocy. (Thanks for the link to that report, Irishman!)

  79. What???

    I forget who said it, and I’m not going to go back and read thru to find out, but the person wouldn’t vote in a church??? WHAT??? And then complained about it to the ACLU??? Were you afraid that the God you don’t believe in would come out of a wall and smite you? It’s a public building (public in that anyone can go in, not public in that it’s owned by the local government)… why *CAN’T* they have poling stations there. Are you afraid that the clergy that use that church would change the votes? Your constitution was written by men that KNOW they were inspired by God… they say it. Should THAT be thrown out now… it’s not seperation of Church and State.

    It’s no wonder that no one cared that a poling station was being held in a church… even the ACLU. Which actually kind of suprises me.

  80. KaiYeves

    Uh, Seargent Zim, the exact quote from Revenge of the Sith is
    “This is how democracy dies- to thunderous applause.”
    And clutching our horoscopes and crystals.
    BA, you’re a candle against the dark side, keep it up.

  81. Irishman

    Dutch said:
    > Your statements about what I was trying to do have no basis in reality. They are purely conjecture on your part. You have no evidence to support you statement.

    I call bull. You posted that quote without any qualifiers or discussion. What possible reason could you have for posting that quote, other than advocating the message of the quote? The standard assumption is that a person advocates the message of the quote, unless they explicitly state otherwise. Don’t blame Cybergoose because you were unclear about your intentions.

    What??? said:
    > It’s a public building (public in that anyone can go in, not public in that it’s owned by the local government)…

    No, it’s not a public building, it is a private building. It is owned by private citizens or groups, not by the community (city, town, county, etc) as a whole.

    > why *CAN’T* they have poling stations there. Are you afraid that the clergy that use that church would change the votes?

    If the people running the vote are trained and obeying polling laws, then the clergy shouldn’t have access to change the votes. The problem is one of endorsement. Placing the polling place in a church gives the impression that that church has a preferential position to the government. It creates an endorsement of that religion by the government, which is forbidden by the First Amendment.

    Consider the difficulties of placing that polling place in a Catholic church, then telling a devout Muslim to go there to vote. Or place it in a Mosque, and tell a Jew to have to vote there. Or place it in a Mormon church, then tell a Baptist that is their polling place. It is inappropriate.

  82. Mark

    I prefer the idea that Frank Herbert postulated in “Chapterhouse Dune” that hose who actually sought to be elected to power were immediately disqualified!

  83. Frank Ch. Eigler

    @Andrew on 12 Sep 2007 at 2:23 am

    > As a Brit I commend Phil on his courage to speak out,

    Courage? What risk is he bravely facing down?
    Even the yak about lost “liberty” convinently omits specifics.

  84. Sergeant Zim

    I’ve always been rather amused by the “Christians” who support this war. I simply quote to them the following, and ask them to reconcile that with the war:

    38″You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
    43″You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?

    So far I’ve not had a reasoned response.

  85. JamesR

    Great post Phil.
    Whatever happened to the quote?
    “The Only Thing to Fear Is Fear Itself”

    The war against Iraq is a war of aggression and is not part of what our constitution allows. Iraq did not pose any threat to the U.S. We pushed them back in 1991 and would do it repeatedly if needed.

    The loss of The Writ of Habeaus Corpus IS lost liberty. Dumbass.

    I agree to the fact also that all the government is in on it. My Senator Feinstein is complicit with Bush and should be prosecuted along with the rest of them.

    200 years of good will that the U.S. built and it is gone in 6 years. It was generally agreed that having nuclear weapons was not to be tolerated BUT that the U.S. had such weapons was considered to be an acceptable arrangement. It was accepted because there was an abhorence for the destructive power of such weapons and it was considered reasonable that the U.S. would never use one except as a last act. Those days ended also and we hear that no options are off the table even nuclear. The mentally ill have taken over and we all suffer.

    George Bush said GOD told him to go into Iraq. I guess God was wrong. But that is to be expected from a sissy wanker.

  86. It seems likenobody’s willing to blame the “Talibanized” Evangelical Christian community of the US for starting this mess in the first place with their “Unbridled Calvinism” commodifying every natural resource on the planet. Humanity won’t die from neither bang or whimper, but the “Persistent Delusion” of a money-driven form of “Christianity”.

  87. # DennyMoon 12 Sep 2007 at 1:02 pm

    “Caffeenman, I won’t address your silly and demeaning generalizations. (I’m pretty sure I’m not a “winger”, by the way…) But your math sure is funny, where’d you get that “8 years” from? Saddam’s cat-n-mouse games with the inspectors and international community continued until shortly before the invasion. It wasn’t until the invasion was imminent that his government began back pedaling, and by then it was pretty much too late.”

    * years = 2003 (when we invaded) minus 1995 (mid 1990′s by your citation). Sorry the math is above your head. Try a cheap calculator. For $5.00 you can have these sort of answers at your finger tips.

    “Pray tell, how did you “know” that Saddam had no WMDs? Were you a member of the inspection teams? Did you have access to intelligence reports? If “everyone else knew”, why didn’t they argue more strongly against the evidence when Sec. Powell went to the UN? I recall France speaking up, but it was never to say, “No, he doesn’t have WMDs!” Their argument was, “Even if he does, war is not the answer.” While that is a valid debate, it’s not refutation of the question.”

    I knew because I don’t waste my time watching Fox news. I use news sources from around the world and almost without exception (the exceptions being US puppets) cited sources and evidence that Saddam had no WMDs. Secretary Powell has stated he had mis-givings about the briefing he gave the UN. If you don’t know all this then you are willfully ignorant. It’s documented all over the internet.

    Use Google. It’s very helpful. 2 minutes of your time will provide all the information you need. But you know already. There’s no way you can’t know. Claiming I’m “ranting” doesn’t change the truth and the truth is Saddam didn’t have wmds. The truth is I knew that.

    Why were you wrong? That’s the question.

    “Without the gift of retrospect, how do you determine if “now” is or isn’t the right time to scale up? Bin Laden had demonstrated you didn’t have to be a “traditional” military power to reach out and hit us hard, claiming Saddam was no threat to the US is wishful thinking.”

    Saddam was no threat to the US was a fact at the time. Wishful thinking is you trying to rationalize why you were wrong because “it’s what everybody thought.”

    I guess getting your facts straight before unleashing hell on people isn’t very important in your world.

  88. Murff

    Here’s a good quote for the day:

    “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

    John Stuart Mill
    English economist & philosopher (1806 – 1873)

  89. Brett

    Funny, when I think of “The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling”, I think of the mindless patriotism which has lead many to blindly support the current administration, despite any evidence of wrongdoing or flat out incompetence. I think of those who would use the phrase “support the troops!”, rather than admit the fact that the war was poorly planned, ill-conceived, and at this point, has little hope of positive resolution. I think of the mindless, slavering masses who prefer to live in a fantasy world where the US is the greatest nation in the world, without a single fault or failing, rather than admitting their nation has faults which can and should be remedied. That would be my definition of “degraded … moral and patriotic feeling”. But, hey, that’s just me.

  90. Don’t know what happened to my response but I think it was blocked by my work. Anyway, here goes again…

    # DennyMoon 12 Sep 2007 at 1:02 pm

    “Caffeenman, I won’t address your silly and demeaning generalizations.”

    I was pretty specific. What generalizations? What makes anything I said, “silly”?

    “(I’m pretty sure I’m not a “winger”, by the way…)”

    I don’t care.

    “But your math sure is funny, where’d you get that “8 years” from?”

    This is on the order of calculating the rate at which the universe is expanding but I’ll over-simplify it for your sake:

    2003 (the year we invaded Iraq) minus 1995 (the mid-1990′s you referenced) = 8.

    “Saddam’s cat-n-mouse games with the inspectors and international community continued until shortly before the invasion. It wasn’t until the invasion was imminent that his government began back pedaling, and by then it was pretty much too late.”

    Yeah, he acted like a lot of national leaders do – an immature petulant brat. But it wasn’t too late, right? I mean the weapons inspectors he finally let in said there was no evidence of any wmds which was well before Bush put everyone on ships and planes along with ill-suited equipment and sent them over. It would have been really easy to stop.

    Watch how this works:

    GWB: (picks up phone to call pentagon). Call off the invasion. We haven’t proven a case for war.

    Pentagon: WTF???? It’s too late now!!!!! Look! Our soldiers are home kissing their wives and kids goodbye and everything! It can’t be stopped! You fool! You have doomed us all!!!!!!!

    GWB: You’re fired dumbass. The invasion is off.

    See? Simple!

    “Pray tell, how did you “know” that Saddam had no WMDs?”

    Well, there are people who are respectable and credible and people who aren’t. Bush has a history of failure. Nobody can name anything he’s done that’s made anything better ever. He was trying to push us into war. You know what war is, right? One of the most horrific things people can do to each other.

    Then there were A LOT of people who are credible who said that wmds didn’t exist. In fact, there were more of these voices within and outside the US than there were who backed Bush’s claims.

    So yes, I wasn’t an inspector and I can’t “prove” there were no wmds but there was enough evidence, such as evidence that the earth orbits the sun, that I can say I knew just as I can say I know the earth orbits the sun even though I can’t stand on the sun and watch it happen.

    “Why didn’t they argue more strongly against the evidence when Sec. Powell went to the UN?”

    Ummm… there were a lot of people arguing against the case for war.

    My question to you (I think I asked this before) is why were they and I right and you wrong and still trying to justify being wrong? Why don’t you just take responsibility for your failure to get your facts straight instead of trying to rationalize it by saying “everyone thought the same thing I did”?

    Everybody didn’t think what you thought which is my whole point. A lot of people spoke up and were ignored. People in Bush’s administration spoke up and he fired them. He didn’t want any of those darn facts to mess up the legacy he was eager to create.

    So all I’d like to know from you is why you personally didn’t know that Saddam didn’t have wmds.

  91. RV

    [When questioning the actions of our own government I find myself asking, “Do only evil men aspire to power?”]

    So, are you saying that Bush is evil? I sure hope not. You are blessed to a government that is busy trying to keep you safe from future terrorists!

  92. Cyberg00se

    Dutch, you quoted a monologue from a movie. I commented on the context of the original monologue and I think you know that. Otherwise I’m not sure what the point of all the postering is.

    It’s a monologue from a movie, and without the context of the original meaning of the words, it’s all rather pointless.

    Of course, if these words have their literal meaning for you, I just want to point out that they are a monologue from a movie and once you deconstruct the context in which the character is saying it, it’s just about the opposite of the literal meaning.

    Is that clear enough?

  93. Irishman

    cafeenman said:
    > I knew because I don’t waste my time watching Fox news. I use news sources from around the world and almost without exception (the exceptions being US puppets) cited sources and evidence that Saddam had no WMDs. Secretary Powell has stated he had mis-givings about the briefing he gave the UN. If you don’t know all this then you are willfully ignorant. It’s documented all over the internet.

    > Use Google. It’s very helpful. 2 minutes of your time will provide all the information you need.

    While I agree with your arguments, I have to disagree with this directive. If it is so easy to dig up with google, then why don’t you dig it up and post it, so it’s explicitly layed out for all to see? Give us some links to what you think. It’s only fair.

  94. Murff

    # Brett

    Finish that line….

    “The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse.”

    Finding WMD’s would have been worth fighting in Iraq, right? Saving thousands of people from being murdered by their own government, is that worth fighting in Iraq?
    I never said I supported Bush, and you won’t hear me say it…ever. As I don’t trust any politician, I full well expect that this administration has lied on numerous occasions, same as every administration before.
    But I do support the War in Iraq based on the facts that we are helping the people of Iraq and we are actively finding and defeating the terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  95. smzarba

    You are right Phil.

    And Bush lies and twists more “facts” tonight, so that more of our military will die or be maimed or mentally traumatized.

    Disgusting.

    Steve
    Combat Veteran

  96. Philippe

    RAF said : “When questioning the actions of our own government I find myself asking, “Do only evil men aspire to power?”

    As pointed out in the BA’s “quotes”, evil men can only survive because good men allow them too…”

    Makes me think of something I read many years back. I apologized, I don’t remember the source, but I remember the message :

    “Any person who is devious enough as to be able to manipulate the system in such a way that they can get themselves elected to the highest positions should in no way be allowed to reach such levels of power.”

  97. #
    # Irishmanon 13 Sep 2007 at 5:37 pm

    cafeenman said:

    > Use Google. It’s very helpful. 2 minutes of your time will provide all the information you need.

    While I agree with your arguments, I have to disagree with this directive. If it is so easy to dig up with google, then why don’t you dig it up and post it, so it’s explicitly layed out for all to see? Give us some links to what you think. It’s only fair.

    =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

    the reason why is because it’s like trying to educate flat-earthers. No amount of evidence is going to convince them. I have more than enough experience talking to people about this that I know going and getting the information for them is a waste of my time.

    But because it hadn’t been said – at least I didn’t see it – I just wanted to make it clear that not everyone thought Iraq had wmds. That’s just one rationalization freepers who now realize they were wrong but still can’t take responsibility for it try to buy some credibility.

    If people want to know the truth they already know. All of this has been documented extensively for years.

  98. Murff,

    The war in Iraq has caused more death and devastation than years of continued ruled under Saddam ever would have. It’s created *more* terrorists, not less, acting as a lightening rod for extremism. As for the WMD claim, it’s been pointed out many times that intelligence agencies already knew that Saddam likely didn’t have the capability the US administration claimed, so they cherry-picked results and massaged the intel until it fit what the hawks wanted.

    So, to answer your questions:

    “Finding WMD’s would have been worth fighting in Iraq, right? ”

    Nope. The weapons inspectors could have done that. War would have only been necessary had Saddam been in imminent threat, and it was fairly understood, even at the time, that he wasn’t (despite Powell’s dog and pony show at the UN).

    “Saving thousands of people from being murdered by their own government, is that worth fighting in Iraq?”

    If that’s was being done, sure. But it’s not. We’ve simply traded a dictator for anarchy. I wouldn’t call that a victory. Besides, if you really want to go to war on those grounds, there are *far* better choices (Rwanda seems like a good start).

    “But I do support the War in Iraq based on the facts that we are helping the people of Iraq and we are actively finding and defeating the terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

    I find it pretty hilarious you talk of “facts”, and then assert that we’re “helping the people of Iraq”. Something tells me the people on the ground dying from car bombs and cholera would disagree.

    And I find it particularly offensive that you claim the US is helping in Afghanistan, a front they’ve all but abandoned, while their allies, such as Canada, have been forced to pick up where they left off.

  99. Irishman

    Summary of Iraq:

    We traded a stable but brutal dictator for an unstable democracy in the midst of a civil war over religion. Yea us!

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »