Galt’s Mulch

Above: Seconds later, Dove waded in and
helped kick Hawk in the nuts.

Ho hum. I see that Megan “Jane Galt” McArdle has thumbed her nose at anyone who was stupid enough to be intelligent about the stupidity of the US invasion of Iraq.

Chutzpah, please call your office.

I also see that several people have already seen fit to respond derisively to her ridiculous contention that, despite their being ultimately right about the disaster that has followed the invasion, “This has not convinced me of the brilliance of the doves, because precisely none of the ones that I argued with predicted that things would go wrong in the way they did.”

So I’ll only add a few points. One: Just how accurate does McArdle demand someone be in predicting a catastrophe? After all, there’s a lot of range between saying “A Category 4 or 5 hurricane would really fuck up New Orleans,” and “Gale-force winds would cause the 67-year old magnolia in front of Mrs. Alafair Thibeaux’s house at 1343 North Galvez Street to collapse into her second-story sitting room window, killing her cat.”

Two: While we are all aware that the Intertubes was a pretty big place even way back in 2002-03, and that McArdle’s blog was fairly well-trafficked for the time, nevertheless, “doves who argued directly with Jane Galt” must be considered — at best — a pretty small subset of anti-war sentiment at the time. It is unclear, fr’instance, whether Howard Dean waded through Assymetrical Information’s endless stream of vegan recipes, grammar-nazi doodlings, and wonkish spats over Federal Reserve knob-twiddling to find the Iraq War thread in which to express his grave and accurate doubts about the looming Bushista misadventure in Mesopotamia.

But we need not search Galt’s archives for that or any similar such “gotcha” moment. Gavin has already pointed us to Billmon’s and others’ pre-war misgivings. I’d also direct readers to James Fallows’ widely-disseminated piece for the November, 2002 Atlantic, ‘‘The Fifty-First State?‘; which — among many other ominous warnings — contains my all-time bestest-ever favoritist, chillingest, cynicalest prognostication of the horrendous fiasco we were about to get ourselves into:

“What you will need is a man with a black moustache,” a retired British spy who once worked in the region told me. “Out of chaos I am sure someone will emerge. But it can’t be Chalabi, and it probably won’t be a democracy. Democracy is a strange fruit, and, cynically, to hold it together in the short term you need a strongman.”

In other words, the best bet to replace Saddam was going to be … Saddam.

If McArdle neglected at the time to digest the above — or any other good prediction about how badly Iraq could have gone (and did! he says, in the parenthetical key of ‘exasperated’) — then she has no excuse not to catch up on the facts now.

Just to be clear, I don’t think that having been wrong about the invasion of Iraq neccessarily disqualifies a person from having an opinion that bears listening to. Nor do I think that those who got it wrong (in what is to be hoped was ‘good faith’) ought to spend the rest of their lives abasing themselves before the feet of those of us who got it right.

Gavin adds: Oh, we differ somewhat on this point.

At least once would be nice, though. Or, to be more serious: Aren’t the people who now admit that they were very, very wrong about Iraq in the slightest bit curious as to how some of us came to the correct conclusion? …If for nothing else, then to help them avoid similar mistakes in the future?

Some are curious, of course. (McArdle claims to be.) But I cannot help but feel that the slow creep toward opposition to this war, and the interminable see-sawing of debate between 2003 — when fervor for war was at its peak — and today, has enabled the Megan McArdles of the world to pretend to a kind of haughty ‘seriousness’ that is implicitly missing in the ‘doves’ who were right from the start, and whose vindicated objections have disappeared down the memory hole of public discourse in America.

At any rate, because everybody seems to be dredging up old stuff to rub McArdle’s nose in, here’s some of what I had to say in the run-up to the war, expressed in my own perverse and roundabout way (and even moreso here):

Iraq My Brains


There sure is a lot of talk about invading Iraq these days. Seems pretty inevitable, doesn’t it? Much like oversized chandelier earrings, peasant blouses and slanderous campaign advertising by Democrats, reducing Baghdad ERs to rubble is tipped to be very, very “in” this Fall season. So say many, many hard-line think-tank editorialists, right-wing pundits and “war-bloggers” … and 1 billion kilobytes sent can’t be

One wonders if it’s even worth it to do a bit of Devil’s Advocacy. In recent days, Kissinger, Scowcroft, Brzezinski and Baker have raised most of the important objections to an invasion of Iraq anyway, to wit: “Demonstrate that we’re capable of sticking around in a conquered country for at least five minutes after the last bomb drops and it’s on” (Kissinger); “Convince people Saddam has nukes and it’s on” (Scowcroft);
“Plan on milking a shitload of oil out of Iraq to pay for it and it’s on” (Brzezinski, Baker).

Nonetheless, I’ve decided to do my bit in cheering on the war effort by pointing out a few arguments that (to paraphrase the dead sexy Ann Coulter) quivering, mendacious girly-men in lavender-themed Upper West Side rent-control pits of depravity and third-trimester abortionists of all stripes might raise, in odious objection to a righteous crusade to rid the earth of evil.

First, the ineffective internationalist argument, mainly coming from Europe. The “wisdom” goes something like this: There is a mutually beneficial agreement amongst nations that aggression is to be avoided, and always called a spade when thrown down on the geopolitical table. The Europeans claim the language of “pre-emptive strikes” is nothing but an attempt to sluff off the aggression card with cartoonish hearts scribbled
hastily in the corners.

Now I prefer Hearts to Spades, anyway. But the Euro-ninnies and their Fifth Column comrades over here might confront you with something along those lines … so prepare your red crayons accordingly.

Another possible objection — bear with me, it’s not like I agree with this nonsense — is that there’s not all that much evidence Iraq had something to do with 9-11. As a side note, it’s a bit ironic that once again the Czechs have royally screwed us in our dealings with Saddam. First it was their chemical weapons “experts” spreading propaganda about the possible cause of so-called Gulf War Syndrome back in the early 90s. (For younger readers, this was a fake “disease” whose principle symptom was an aversion to taking one for the Pentagon budget and whose principle cure was a few strong words to the network executives to shut the fuck up, already.) Now it turns out that the boobs who run Czech intelligence still can’t find that grainy videotape of Mohammed Atta at the Iraqi consulate in Prague they have in their possession … despite our repeated suggestions to take another look at a certain post office box around the corner from the US embassy.

Want more slippery arguments from the Hate America crowd? Try this one on for size — a major reason we give for removing Saddam is that he’s a threat to his neighbors … and they say we’re not “technically” his neighbor. Pretty kooky stuff, eh? I mean, I don’t know how many times I’ve hopped on a jet to Tel Aviv to borrow a cup of sugar, but still these nut-jobs have the audacity to spew this sort of drivel. Or they might go on and on and on about civilian casualties. “But all innocent lives taken in the upcoming war will be firmly on the head of Saddam!” you cry. I hear you, but this is an argument you can’t win. Either you see Hirohito’s fingerprints all over the release catch for the Enola Gay’s bomb bay doors, or you don’t. And these clowns obviously don’t. The Fifth Columnists will definitely bring up past American “crimes”. “How was Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait any different from Bush Senior’s invasion of Panama a couple months
earlier?” they will ask. How are you going to answer that one, Righty? Hint: Outrage over “The mere suggestion!” can give you time to think up your answer.

It could get personal. Here’s the scenario. You’re an upstanding citizen. You’re prepared to accept the cost in men and treasure that will surely accompany our assured victory in Iraq. But along comes Lefty McTerroristlover, who points out that the men in question won’t include you, and you’ll probably get a tax break on the treasure thing to boot. What’s more, turns out you had to sit out the Vietnam War with a
trick spine, or maybe you spent the Gulf War behind the lines, hobbled by carpal tunnel from all the pro-war op-eds you were writing for your school paper. Not easy charges to face, I know, but it helps to think of such accusations as little combat missions of your own. Give yourself a Purple Heart, and move on.

One more thing — they’ll bring up the question of the future of the people of Iraq … the Kurds in the punchbowl, so to speak. Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — screw ’em.


Comments: 25


Those linkies aren’t working. Are the comments in the 8/26/2002 “Iraq My Brains” box McArdles, or satire?


[Fixed linkies]


Even though Galt’s expressing doubts about Iraq, she’s still in the wingnut club, right? If she states that she’s against the war and regrets her initial support for it, she’ll incur the wrath of the lunatic kaffee klatch acquaintances. Hemming and hawing and finding fault with the people who weren’t wrong means she can keep her friends.


Not to mention, Hemming and hawing and finding fault with the people who weren’t wrong means she can keep her friends money.

Of course, to a an objectivist, money and morality are synonyms, no?


Galt’s kinda sorta not an Objectivist. At least, that’s what she says. Every once in a while she’ll post on her screen name and how it originated from a joke on the Table Talk boards or something but that she’s really not a follower of Rand.

For whatever that’s worth. Anyway, she’s kept the name.


Democracy is a strange fruit

Shades of Billie Holliday… Chillingest indeed.


…but that she’s really not a follower of Rand. For whatever that’s worth. Anyway, she’s kept the name.

She needs to be renamed.

Jane Guilt.


Aren’t the people who now admit that they were very, very wrong about Iraq in the slightest bit curious as to how some of us came to the correct conclusion?

No. they’re far too busy deflecting blame from themselves.

If for nothing else, then to help them avoid similar mistakes in the future?

In the future, they’ll be wrong again, blame those who were right, and spend their time and effort yet again deflecting blame from themselves. Oh, They’ll learn alright. They’ll learn how to better deflect blame. But they’ll always cling to the predictions that get the most cheers from the warmongers. Mostly because these are people who generally got their asses kicked by the warmonger types (I mean, just look at the power tools – those guys had to have been getting their asses kicked left and right), and so they’ll always seek to appease the closeted and latent who repeatedly kicked their asses in high school, regardless of how wrong they’re virtually guaranteed to be.


Having been through the Viet Nam War thingie …

They will wait a decent interval – 4 to 5 nanoseconds – and then start blogging how the US could have won if the military hadn’t been stabbed in the back by the librulmesoislamafascistterrererroristlovers.

The fact a bunch of ignorant warmongering goobers screwed the pooch will be, somehow, forgot.

And in about 20 years or so we’ll get to do it all again!

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Isn’t this FUN?


While we’re all recycling our own stuff…

It’s not the “I was wrong, but you were wronger, in a different way� that gets me. It’s the “I was wrong, but I’m still a far better, moral, and serious person than you, and if you don’t like me saying that, it just means I’m even more better.�

That metaphorical stick up her arse? It’s where she stores her invisible Pillar of Rectitude, handy for pulling out & standing atop whenever our paltry arguments about “reason” and “logic” and “cause & effect” look to swamp her proudly-held (yet STUPID, even EVIL) beliefs. It’s hardly a firm foundation, that Pillar of Rectitude — one might call it a slender reed — and yet people like Robert Novak demonstrate that they can balance atop one for years, even decades, serenely indifferent to whatever oceans of blood and tears their misguided politico-religious theories have produced upon the bodies of other (un-Pillared) individuals. Once you understand about the Pillar of Rectitude, you’ll never again see Tucker Carlson dancing or the C-Plus Augustus strutting without realizing why ‘rectitude’ and ‘rectum’ lie so close to each other in the dictionary!


The shorter version would be fine:
Jane Galt is a disingenuous, dishonest twit.


Jane Gall.

Jane Gulled.

Jane Gilt-Edged Bonds.


The essential problem is The Left never protested loud enough. Had they done that we on The Right would have respected them.


In my defense, the reason the bus went over an entirely different part of the cliff than I predicted was because I thought Cheney would steer to avoid the group of schoolkids, instead of gunning the engine and trying to take them with him.

It’s a forgivable mistake.


No no no! My word, you’re getting it all wrong! Yes, technically they were wrong and we were right, but were we right enough? We should apologize to the poor dears; after all, we were downright unpleasant, and some of them clutched their handkerchiefs in alarm as we heathens lambasted them with our protests, what with our smelliness, drum circles, and patchouli oil.


In my defense, the reason the bus went over an entirely different part of the cliff than I predicted was because I thought Cheney would steer to avoid the group of schoolkids, instead of gunning the engine and trying to take them with him.

I also like how they’ve been throwing rocks out the windows at everybody as they descend.


Well, let’s face it; Ben has a point.

It’s not so much that we were right (or, to channel Judy Miller for a bit, fucking right)

It’s the terribly uncouth way we protested, using our outside voices and bad words. Gracious, it was as if we thought it was a matter of life and death.


Hey, I may have been wrong about everything, but because you guys weren’t right about everything means we’re EXACTLY THE SAME.


The hangover from this little bender of American militarism is going to be bad. It’s going to make all the vague, irrational, unconscious cultural rumblings of the “Vietnam Syndrome” seem minor in comparison.

The truely shameful thing for the country is the way the majority shrugged their shoulders and let it all happen with the evil little thought in their minds, “sure, I’d like to see a little shock and awe, if you say it’s needed.” That’s the collective sin that we’re all going to have to grapple with in one way or another.

On some level, I think everybody knew the various reasons for war were baloney. After all, how imminent can a threat be when even Bush admits that we can attack at our leisure in the Spring when the weather’s nice for driving tanks in the desert? Yep, everybody knew, but most didn’t really care. “It’ll be fun to have a cakewalk,” I think many thought. It was like Rove’s case for Bush in 2000: “Why not the frat boy?” “Why not attack Iraq?”

The “serious” war supporters were just a little more publically committed to the fake justifications. Their “seriousness” was just part of the collective thoughtlessness that gave us this fiasco. Bush wanted to do it, so he looked around for reasons. The country thought the UN, maybe, should be consulted, but beyond that, they thought a little “mission accomplished” might be satisfying, so they didn’t worry much about the shifting reasons. “Bush must know what he’s doing, I’ll just settle back and wait for the fireworks show on CNN.”

The “serious” pundits responded by putting their imprimatur of “seriousness” on the whole thing to head off any collective doubts. That is their crime — their war crime. Not just pushing the lies — on that score, many of the “serious” war supporters may be telling the truth when they say that they really truly believed the lies, although I continue to think that the country at large sensed that there was something lacking. No, the crime was saluting (to borrow from Dan Rather) and responding to the war drums by writing, in so many words, that “I have considered the reasons for war deeply and seriously and found them to be convincing.”

That was a crime because the reasons were ridiculous. Not only were they suspiciously changing all the time, they couldn’t stand any real scrutiny at all! Iraq was obviously no military threat to us. We couldn’t even come up with a bribe big enough to get Iraq’s neighbor Turkey involved. And there never was any realistic chance that we could “create” an Israel loving democracy in Iraq in a year or two with $50 Billion and a hundred thousand troops.

This is the reason why the war supporters find it easy now to admit that they were wrong, but they can’t bring themselves to admit their real crime. They can’t admit that they lied when they told the country that they’d “seriously” considered the need for this stupid war. Forget about whether or not they really believed, or should have believed, the fake, conflicting rationales. If they did, they were fools. Their crime was standing up in public and saying, “I’m not a naive fool like those who oppose this war. No, I’m a very very serious person who has considered Bush’s reasons and concluded that this war is necessary and that all those who hear me should join me in supporting it.”

Bartcop periodically shows the picture of the little Iraqi boy who lost his arms and legs, not to mention his whole family, from American bombs early in the war. Now, as I’ve said, the citizenry in general bears some responsibility for letting this debacle occur. That said, your average joe has a certain point when he says, “I trusted Bush, and Rummy and Congress and the pundits and Wolf Blitzer. It seemed a little fishy to me, but they ought to know so I trusted them when they told me war was necessary.” But those who ought to know, those who purported to know and broadcast their very very seriously considered opinions about it have no such defense. If they thought about it seriously, they must have forseen that many innocent people were going to die or be maimed, and that the whole thing was likely to be a failure. If they thought about it seriously, presumably they must have calculated that those innocents had to be killed and maimed for some greater good or some pressing national need. That would be required, at a minimum, if one were going to claim to have seriously considered the need for the war in the moral sense. They ought to be able to say, now, “yes, I knew little Iraqi boys were going to have their arms and legs blown off, but I still concluded war was necessary, and here’s why. . .”

But they didn’t and they can’t, of course. They desired the war without any serious thought for the damage and misery it would cause. In fact, from their unwillingness to now defend in detail any of their supposedly “serious” reasons for supporting the war, we have to conclude that they had none! That’s why they’re still so huffy about having their ersatz “seriousness” examined. When they let go of their phony seriousness, they will have to face their real reasons for cheering on the war. They want to avoid that discussion at all costs. They’ll admit now that they were merely wrong, sure, but I’m afraid it will be a long time before they acknowledge their own moral depravity.


It’s not the “I was wrong, but you were wronger, in a different way� that gets me. It’s the “I was wrong, but I’m still a far better, moral, and serious person than you, and if you don’t like me saying that, it just means I’m even more better.�

I was lunching with a bud who retired from the same wingnut-infested outfit that canned me. One of their favorite spittle flecked rants was about how Clinton was just itching to take their guns away…never mind that the only place this was ever mentioned was inside their own fevered little pointy heads.

He said to me that he would like to offhandedly ask them if they were happy now that they still have their guns but we’re all in a huge fucking mess (one of these guys was a ‘nam vet, who was very down on ever having his kids go to war…of course, his son signed up for the Army!).

I opined that the stock answer would invariably be, “Yeah, but the Democrats woulda been *worse!!!*


You just knew the HAWK AND THE DOVE cover would smoke me out of cover.

I have nothing to blogwhore right now, though (big HeroClix post over at my geek blog, but nobody here cares about that) so I’ll try to keep this short.

Hawk and the Dove pretty much always sucked in the 60s, although there was some real nice Gil Kane art on a few of the stories. The concept never worked for me, though, until Alan Brennert revived them in an early 80s BRAVE AND THE BOLD story where they’d both gotten older and lost their powers (although, strangely, Batman hadn’t aged a hair). Brennert did more with the concept in 22 pages than anyone had previously managed in many, many issues. HAWK AND THE DOVE fans should definitely seek out that B&B issue.

Okay, I’m out.


Jane was too busy during the run-up to the war to have intellengent conversation with folk who had serious misgivings about the war. She was advocating premtively hitting people over the head with 2x4s if they attended the prewar rally held in New York (she also thought that said rally was not going to be well-attended, even though the ralies held that day worldwide were attended in record-breaking numbers). She got so much shit she had to shut down for a few days while her fellow warmongers sent her licky-love letters about how horrible all of us “doves” were. It is load of crap that she calls people who were against this ill-conceived bloodbath from the beginnings as “doves.” What a disingenuous bitch.


If there’s anything more annoying than Rightists’ tendency to resort to strawman arguments and to appeal to the human desire to appear “reasonable” and “sensible” and above all “Serious,” it’s the Sensible Liberals’ tendency to adopt the same tactics.


“endless stream of vegan recipies” like this one for chicken soup?


Hmm. Guess she’s not a vegetarian anymore.


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