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BARNSTORMING

Is Loopholeism killing political discourse?

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THE CONSERVATIVE DISEASE I get letters, yes I do. I got one today. It was as polite as a mugging can be, and I won’t fault the author for good manners. But manners aside, all is not well with Mr. Loophole--yes, let’s call him Mr. Loophole. He’s got a CRD--Conservative Republican Disease. The disease isn’t exclusively Republican. But as over-sexed heroin-shooting bear-backers who only screw cheap, dirty, heroin-shooting prostitutes who cut themselves for pleasure are somewhat more likely to contract H.I.V., so too our Conservative brothers and sisters are at risk. The first symptom of this disease--a disease we’ll call Loopholeism, in Mr. Loophole’s honor-- is an inability to see the forest hiding beyond yonder trees. Concerning WMD in pre-war Iraq Mr. Loophole says “I'd like to point out that there has never been any doubt whatsoever that Iraq had WMD...” Bravo lad, bravo! There never has been a doubt that Saddam once had WMD, and aspirations for more and scarier WMD. But WHEN? At the time of Iraq’s invasion most of the world was expressing pretty serious reservations. Look how many allies we DON’T have. But who’s keeping names? Prior to the Bush Administration’s “Mushroom Cloud in the Heartland,” Rhetoric, even most Americans thought the inspectors needed more time. Doubt about Iraq's WMD was never in short supply. But doubters were silenced, and shouted down. They were called traitors and fifth columnists at best-- some were simply branded “partisan.” Mr. Loophole cites Bill Clinton’s well-worn admission that Saddam was one bad dude. Funny how the right only gives Clinton cred when he feeds their peculiar sickness. But it’s the secondary symptom that make Loopholism so terrifying: An unswerving tendency to value technical truths (sometimes called “technicalities” or even “loopholes”) over objective truth. As Mr. Loophole writes "Regime change in Iraq was a direct result of Saddam Hussein’s material breach of UN Resolution 1441, and the failure to accurately and truthfully declare all that they had..." Touché Mr. Loophole, you are technically correct! We’ve got 1000+ Americans dead, and more wounded; we’ve got countless thousands of Iraqi civilians dead, and more wounded; we’ve got terrorist cells brewing in a land where they weren’t brewing a year ago; we’ve got the threat of a bloody Iraqi civil war on our hands; and we’ve got old allies offering only a cold shoulder. But by Jiminy H. Jesus, Saddam sure isn't in breech of that U.N. Resolution. George W. Bush sold the war in Iraq like it was an "Extended Warrantee" on a slightly used Lemon. The salesman’s pitch was a rather inflated estimation of what the fine print actually covered -- but technically true nonetheless. And then the breaks go out. The U.N. resolution was only a launching pad for war in Iraq; fear of WMD was the fuel that put this red white and blue rocket right up a camel's ass. I should pause to identify my own peculiar illness. I ain’t your Woodstock-granny's liberal. I’ve never thought war should be a responsible nation’s LAST option. That’s hippy-dippy hoo-hah, and it’s a fool's trap. War should be waged when it’s the ONLY LOGICAL OPTION. There were many options to invading Iraq but the Bushies were loud and America was scared, it’s blood running alternately hot and cold since 9/11. When Dubya offered us the mighty torch of liberty we grabbed like hot tail, primed and ready to get buck. Now Iraq is on fire. People in Iraq are on fire. Children are on fire. Americans are on fire. It's our fault. The world isn't safer, and the world isn't on our side. And we're distracted from our war against the terrorists behind 9/11. Iraq was in breech of UN Security Resolution Number 8675309-Jenny. And now they are not. Mr. Loophole wrote: “While no WMD "stockpiles" have not been found, both David Kay and Charles Duelfer have found evidence of on-going WMD programs...” Except these remnants of old plans for old programs weren’t really proof of anything. Mr. Loophole writes: "We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002...” Beautiful phrasing----- we move from Saddam has WMD ready to hit America tomorrow, to Saddam has WMD Programs, to Saddam had WMD-related program activities? What's next? A friend of my brother met one of my one of my wife's brother's WMD program activity-related activities? Mr. Loophole (a prodigious linker) tried to compare a lost Soviet WMD from 1958 to America’s invasion of Iraq. Classic. Of the Soviet WMD Mr. Loophole cited CNN This accident took place the morning of February 5, 1958, over the coast of Georgia. . .it took us 44+ years to locate this WMD...and we even knew where it was...does that mean that it never existed and that people lied about its existence to mislead the world..." If this weren’t an apples and oranges argument it would be apples and elephants. There’s a huge gulf between the Soviet’s inability to retrieve something"lost", and Rummy’s contention "we know [Iraq has] WMD because we know where they are." And the Soviet WMD hasn't cost America 2-bil, or 1000 American soldiers. Official word from Iraq as of last week: "It is unlikely WMD will ever be found." Not definitive, but damn close. And damn official. Mr. Loophole says: I would say that any functional relationship between [Iraq and] terrorists who have committed crimes against America or American citizens would qualify in the context of the war on terror... Who does John Kerry think he's kidding?” Waaaa? Who do you think you're kidding Mr. Loophole? There can be nominal terrorist-program-related activities in even the safest havens, sure, but Iraq was far from being a terrorist hot bed. Remember, even God told Lott he’d save Sodom (or Gomorrah, can’t recall) for the sake of one righteous man. Will we destroy a nation because of a few “connections?” And there’s one good thing you can say about brutal dictators who take their iron gloves seriously: they have no patience for rivals and that means no patience for terrorist leaders. And besides, it’s not like America let one Al QAEDA terrorist who WAS IN IRAQ slip by THREE TIMES on PURPOSE because--well-- his activities in Iraq helped bolster the case for war. Mr., Loophole says: “Clinton first linked al Qaeda to Saddam... Again with the Clenis! Clinton also shot a missile at Osama and missed. Back then Republicans said he was “wagging the dog.” If Clinton had hit the mark people might still think he was wagging the dog. Thank goodness 9/11 cleared all that up. But of all Mr. Loophole’s comments this is the winner: “Many on the left have a pathological hatred of President Bush.” My sides hurt with laughter. I suppose the Swiftboat Liars are merely Kerry detractors, and not full-fledged hatchet men? Loophole goes on: “[Bush haters] have aligned themselves with the"anything but Bush" sentiment that got a total doofus nominated as the candidate for the Democratic Party. John Kerry isn't an "average G.I. Joe"; John Kerry is more like Benedict Arnold than G.I. Joe, and his post Vietnam War actions were disgraceful and showed a lack of judgment....” The problem with unchecked loopholeism is it turns its victims into fucking pigs. I keep hearing that Kerry's time in country doesn't add up to the medals. Tell it to the widow of the boy who was sniped ten-minutes after his boots hit ground. Tell it to the 18-year old kid who lost his legs, and his nuts, and three fingers on his left hand when he tripped a mine during his very first patrol. Kerry volunteered for combat in a known deathtrap. He did his duty and was honorably discharged. Everything that comes after the “VOLUNTEERD FOR COMBAT PART” IS PATRIOT GRAVY. “Supporting the Troops,” became a Yellow-Ribbon-rage during the first Gulf War. It was a direct--and well-intentioned-- response to how awfully our returning Vietnam Vets were treated. But here’s the rub. We supported the Troops TOO MUCH when they were dying for a bad cause in Vietnam, and NOT AT ALL when they came home. Would that it were the other way around. Either way, modern Republicans sure doesn’t think twice about challenging the patriotism, the bravery, and the credibility of men who served, and were wounded in combat. It’s like Vietnam ended yesterday and all the Righties lined up at the docks to scream, “BABYKILLER!” And about that war in Vietnam. John Kerry comes back from combat and says we were fighting a bad, expensive war for bad, expensive reasons, and it's going badly, and expensively, and making a lot of impressionable young men confused and angry or crippled, or dead, or totally psychotic, or dead---- oh, I said dead already------ And this makes him Benedict Arnold? No, it makes him a brave man all over again. Kerry's participation in the anti-war movement was an important step in changing public opinion and putting an end to the biggest mistake of the American Century. If men who came back from Nam were unfairly tagged "war criminals," they were also ALIVE. Thank you John Kerry. On the other hand, if we'd kept up the fight in Vietnam for another 10-years or so there would be even fewer baby-boomers retiring and Social Security might be in better shape. It’s hard to say. I have no doubt Mr. Loophole is a jolly good fellow who wishes to engage in an open, honest debate. But when you say the day is lovely he answers, “except for when a cloud covers the sun.” For him the world is full of exceptions that somehow prove the rule. All of us should keep him in our prayers. Can you find the loophole in this column?

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