Sunday, December 16, 2007

Biased Resources

One of the biggest frustrations of debates in the blogosphere is the constant denegration of someone's sources as "biased" or "slanted" to one way of thinking at the expense of another. When person A makes a point, person B insists on evidence or sources. When the evidence or source is presented, person B denies its credibility due to bias. But bias does not imply dishonesty, underhandedness or the purposeful manipulation, distortion or ommision of facts and details pertinent to the issue. Either the info is true or it isn't and only when a source has been proven to have engaged in any of the above behavior repeatedly in order to support an otherwise unsupportable position can it truly be cast aside as lacking credibility.

For example, recently Les had dismissed my use of a Human Events article because, well, it's Human Events, and gave me another link to another article by the same Jed Babbin, I guess to show his bias. Well, OK. Jed's biased. But is what he reported true or isn't it? That's all that really matters. And we won't always know for sure, but if the guy or the source has no history of bad reporting, what difference does his bais make? Another example is seeing some lefties claim that Bush is a heartless creep for vetoing the SCHIPS deal. But rightwing people explained that Bush supported the plan but not the Dems idea of how much more to fund it. He, too, was up for increasing the funding, but not as much as the Dems wanted. So the lefties in question have diminished credibility for lying, not for being lefties.

In any case, the point of posting this is that I'm inviting everyone who cares to offer examples of who they think is UN-baised. It can be a periodical, like a newspaper or magazine. It can be a person, like a columnist or talk-show host. If anyone disagrees with another's offering, please cite examples of how they slanted a story away from the truth rather than simply denying their objectivity. Have fun.

23 comments:

Les said...

I'll address your "downsides" posts later, but I first wanted to clarify why I linked to that other article.

"But is what he reported true or isn't it?"

My point is that it's editorialized, and is a prime example of his unwarranted dismissal of opposing ideology - even if it's something his ideological comrades might flip flop on later! If you read the article, you'll have noticed he absolutely crucified the general who said the number of troops required in Iraq was way higher than what the administration folks initially wanted to hear. Fast forward to the present, and we now find ourselves witnessing an administration that does, indeed, support the surge strategy AND what is essentially amounting to a prolonged occupation. How can such policy reversals be ignored? Why should we continue to over value the opinions of those who were wrong to begin with, and only now are realizing that the cost/benefit balance of the Iraq War are closer to what people like me were estimating 4 years ago? I would use your own comment as an illustration of my point. Let's assume Babbin's accusation of the NIE staff is accurate - does that make them wrong? Tit for tat, Arthur. Seems to me that people like Babbin are as guilty of politically convenient data manipulation as anyone you've accused on the other side, and that's the point I wanted you to consider.

Les said...

POT-CALLING-THE-KETTLE-BLACK ALERT!!!

"One of the biggest frustrations of debates in the blogosphere is the constant denegration of someone's sources as 'biased' or 'slanted' to one way of thinking at the expense of another."

You mean kinda like this?

"So, is your dictionary of recent printing, or a pre-1970 edition? Should I be surprised if the newest books off the presses includes a more liberal (per)version of the word? Honest people KNOW what the definition of marriage is. Liberals tend to ignore reality in favor of THEIR truths. There's a little rant for ya." - Marshall Art

Seriously, Art - you're telling me you don't knock sources that don't meet your criteria for credibility? Whatever, man.

mom2 said...

This is off topic, but depending on your age, if abortion was as popular when you were born as it is now, would it be possible that you might not be here? There is an example of how time changes things. I also think that later editions of certain printed materials can be biased because of the change in culture.

Marshall Art said...

Let's back up a bit, Les.

Originally, you used the current NIE report as an example of the administration manipulating the facts, in response to like charges made by me regarding the left. Then, I used Jed Babbin's article in Human Events as a counter and you dismissed that with charges of bias, and offered another Babbin article in support. (Which is cool because support is what we're after when hearing any charge or assertion by our opponents.)

So, first, my point of bringing up Babbin's article was that he was pointing out why he feels the NIE lacks the credibility the left attaches to it, doing so only because it disagrees with the administration. Rather than manipulating facts, Babbin is providing reasons why he feels the way he does. I don't know if you read the article (page 1--week of Dec 10), but he clearly shows that the main authors of the current NIE report are worthy of scrutiny. One of the principle authors, intel chief Thomas Fingar, said in Feb 2001, "Happily, the severity of specific threats to our nation, our values, our system of government and our way of life are low and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future." And even in July of '07 he said, "WE assess that Tehran is determined to develop nuclear weapons--despite its international obligations and international pressure. This is a grave concern to the other countries in the region whose security would be threatened should Iran acquire nuclear weapons." But now he and his pals are saying they stopped trying back in '03, and says so with "high confidence"!

So the point of my using the Babbin article was to show that the NIE is a poor example for you to use to counter my original charge against the left. Babbin simply listed provable reasons that actually back me up. Any editorializing he may have done in the article doesn't diminish the underlying point he was making because of the reasons he listed.

Now I have to go re-read the article you offered. Be right back!

Marshall Art said...

As to your Babbin offering, it is doing much the same thing. It is stating a premise and supporting it with verifiable facts. His "crucifixion" of the general was not for having a different idea, but for doing an end around and blatantly undermining the administrations war agenda. If you remember, he also crucifies the administration for keeping this guy and other Clinton supporting officers in office. Thus, there's evidence of objectivity in his reporting.

As to fast forwarding to the present, we still are not "occupying" Iraq. Our presence is a supportive action, not a ruling one, which is basically what an occupying force does. And Shinseki's assessment of what was required personnel-wise wasn't accurate either. He sought numbers beyond what we even had in uniform and said in answer to a Senator that "hundreds of thousands" were needed in Iraq. This is preposterous considering our goal was regime change, which was accomplished with the amount of troops used. What came later was not anticipated, and is a legitimate beef, but could have been lessened with a more united front and less drivel from the appeasers.

Policy reversals don't have to be ignored, and the left can say I told you so if they want, but it doesn't mean Bush's decision to do what almost every Dem was only talking about doing during the previous administration was wrong. In fact, there's some policy reversals to which your side attaches no importance at all.

"Why should we continue to over value the opinions of those who were wrong to begin with..."

This seems to be what you're doing with the NIE authors.

"Let's assume Babbin's accusation of the NIE staff is accurate - does that make them wrong?" Not by itself. But as I said, the article is stocked with verfiable reasons why they should be considered so. Frankly, I don't think we have the intel to have "high confidence" in either direction regarding old Mahmoud. I think we can at least agree on that point.

In conclusion, I'd say that in the case of these two articles at least, until the data Babbin uses is proven to be wrong, he is NOT guilty of manipulating anything. And really, just as in the charges of Bush lying to the American people, one needs to show that Babbin new his info was wrong before any such charge can be leveled. I'd go so far as to say that random mistakes aren't enough either, but chronic mistakes would better indicate manipulation.

Marshall Art said...

"POT-CALLING-THE-KETTLE-BLACK ALERT!!!"

Regarding the above, I maintain that my comment is a legitimate point and it was quite specific to the question of the word's definition. The general public doesn't have a lot of say as to what definitions a potentially liberal publisher adds to a word that 99% of the population immediately believes means a specific thing, if you get my meaning. If I really gave a flying rat's ass, it would be a good exercise to look at the publishing dates of various dictionaries to find out how recently one has to go to find a definition of marriage that allows for anything beyond the male/female contract. I'd wager you wouldn't have to go back further than 10-15 years, and possibly not that far.

So yeah, I knock THIS particular source, and others like it where the criteria was changed to FORCE a change of meaning, rather than reflect a natural change of meaning that evolves over time. That's what I believe is occurring here. I believe that definition is illegitimate, particularly since there are so few places in the world where it fits legitimately. It's really nothing more than a symptom of the homosexual agenda of forcing their beliefs upon us.

hashfanatic said...

The utter lack of any reality in your entire worldview renders the notion of bias unnecessary, for there CAN be no objectivity on your blog, or anywhere you choose to pontificate.

That's fine...your two cents as an American citizen...but don't even try to preach, browbeat, or ram your version of rectitude down your reader's throats and then turn around and try to convince us you've painted an intelligent, well-reasoned masterpiece when it's clear to them you were working under a flickering fluorescent light.

It's fine to have strong opinions, and voice them. It's another entirely when your own allies point out flagrant factual omissions and clear theological gaps in essential Christian doctrine and you invoke "wounded puppy" syndrome.

Les said...

"His 'crucifixion' of the general was not for having a different idea, but for doing an end around and blatantly undermining the administrations war agenda."

Uh, that's because the administration was fucking WRONG!!! Good lord, the guy had the balls to do what the congressional democrats wouldn't - aggressively FIGHT Bush's flawed "war agenda"! Go ahead and paint your picture of a renegade Bush-hater "blatantly undermining" the war plan all you want. To me, the guy deserves a handshake for using his position to do what I and those like me only WISH we could have done - call the administration out in a forum that actually mattered!

"Our presence is a supportive action, not a ruling one, which is basically what an occupying force does."

Of course, of course. You're right - we have absolutely NO influence whatsoever over the development of the new Iraq. Nothing at all intimidating about 165,000 soldiers and who knows how many mercenaries patrolling the streets on a daily basis. Nothing at all.

"What came later was not anticipated..."

And that, my friend, is where you're DEAD WRONG. How many times have you and I had this conversation elsewhere on the web? Look, just because the administration didn't see the "post"-war violence coming doesn't mean people like me weren't warning anybody who would listen since day one! Unfortunately for us, people like YOU refused to listen, and saying things like "Gee, how were we to know?" makes my skin crawl even more.

"...the criteria was changed to FORCE a change of meaning, rather than reflect a natural change of meaning that evolves over time."

I'd argue the second part of that statement is precisely what we're seeing. I don't feel forced in the least bit. I'm sorry you do.

"...and others like it..."

So, in other words, publications that don't fit your worldview. Hmm - I don't see any genuine difference between the two kinds of dismissal.

"Thus, there's evidence of objectivity in his reporting."

So the guy chastises the administration for keeping people that disagree with him, and you call that objectivity?!? Whatever.

And about the NIE...

Just out of curiosity, did Babbin (a G.H.W.B. era defense official, by the way) slam the credibility of the NIE when their data more closely coincided with the anti-Iran agenda?

Marshall Art said...

Hey Hash!

How ya doin'? How's everything at the home?

"The utter lack of any reality in your entire worldview..."

You don't know from reality.

"...but don't even try to preach, browbeat, or..."

What's this? You scolding me now? You think you've ever presented a cogent, reasoned and intelligent comment here or anywhere? What has THIS happened?

"It's another entirely when your own allies point out flagrant factual omissions and clear theological gaps in essential Christian doctrine and..."

You wouldn't know essential Christian doctrine if it walked up and healed your leprosy.

But it's great to have you stop by. Merry Christmas to ya.

Marshall Art said...

"Uh, that's because the administration was fucking WRONG!!!"

Still a matter of opinion, really. Was that hundreds of thousands of troops with or without international support? The admin was banking on the same nations joining in as before. And if you want to use the surge as proof he (and you) was right, they're still shy a hundred thousand or two. Keep in mind also, that the Babbin column was seeking to make the point that this dude was unqualified to be taken as an expert because of his lack of experience in a leadership position in wartime, as well as his philosophy. And as a Clinton crony, he wasn't fighting the Bush war agenda as much as merely fighting Bush. Bush's people (Rummy) thought the dude was a freakin' milktoast(sp) and he resented the lack of respect. As stated so often, Lincoln went through a lot of generals until he found one that could fight the war as it should be fought. This is similar with Shinseki and others being without class or honor. He wasn't blowing whistles, he was blowing horns. His own.

" Nothing at all intimidating about..."

Are you intimidated by the presence of cops or military personnel? The idea that most Iraqis want us out of there is only true when attached to AlQueda and other scumbags out of there, too. The only people intimidated are the bad guys. That's a good thing.

"And that, my friend, is where you're DEAD WRONG."

I'm not saying that it SHOULDN'T have been anticipated, only that it wasn't. That is, exactly as it went down. But the Bush pronouncement from the very beginning is that it would not be an overnight deal. Some in the admin might have been cocky, but Bush has always framed the conflict as a long journey. However, even if your point here is conceded, it doesn't negate the necessity and righteousness of the action. It had to be done, because it would have to have been done at some time. Hussein was a supporter of the terrorism we had begun to fight. That's more certain now than it was then.

"I'd argue the second part of that statement is precisely what we're seeing. I don't feel forced in the least bit. I'm sorry you do."

No sir. And you don't feel it because you support it. But between them, you and other supporters, you are still quite in the minority in this country and in most of the world for sure. This definition is NOT what the vast majority of people think of when the word "marriage" is used. If you thought of a gay couple you know, described them only as "friends" and nothing more to another person, and said, "I know this couple who should get married (or ARE married, either will do)" what are the chances of the other person thinking "oh, probably two gay guys" first and foremost? Maybe---ZIP! So how can a publication call it a legitimate definition when no one thinks of the word that way? It is forced upon us. Nothing natural about it.

"So the guy chastises the administration..."

How is it NOT objective? What criteria do you impose upon a story in order to satisfy you? Do you need him to say, "Bush blows!"?

"Just out of curiosity, did Babbin..."

If the reports reflected what the admin was saying, believing, etc., what would provoke him to question the credibility? It was only when they went way off the tracks that he, or anyone else for that matter, felt or would feel compelled to look and find out why it so differed? Nothing strange about that.

Les said...

I took a train trip to Arizona with my dad a few years ago. Dad wanted to take the train because he wanted to "see" the sights of Arizona. Good idea, but let's be frank - all you're really seeing when you take a train is what's within eyesight of the train tracks. You're not really seeing everything there is to see, only what's next to the tracks.

I'm resigned to the fact that that's kinda what it's like talking politics with you, Art. You're an option A or option B type of guy if I ever saw one. I get the impression that nuance is often lost on you, either because it's inconvenient or it simply derails your notions that are most often set in stone.

"Still a matter of opinion, really."

Oh, really? It's still a matter of opinion that meeting the unrealistic standards of success as outlined in the early days would require a remarkably greater amount of manpower and resources than the administration was willing to honestly concede to the American people? Billions upon billions of dollars, 165,000+ troops, an unknown number of mercenary soldiers, thousands of "re-trained" Iraqi soldiers, and thousands of international forces later we STILL couldn't accomplish what the administration sold to us. Whether you want to admit it or not, Shinseki was right on the money, and Gen. Abizaid admitted as much last year. From a fleeing private sector to political and social tribal exclusion, the nation of Iraq has been gutted. The image of the United States in the Muslim world has taken a black eye that will take decades to mend, if even then. Creating a desert and calling it peace is NOT my idea of positive democracy building.

"I'm not saying that it SHOULDN'T have been anticipated, only that it wasn't."

By whom? You? That was precisely my point. See above. Sadly, you and yours were ignoring such warnings years ago.

"Are you intimidated by the presence of cops or military personnel?"

Nope. That's because they're MY cops and MY military personnel. I'm not an Iraqi public official trying to rebuild my government with a massive foreign military presence breathing down my neck. I think you understand the difference here.

"How is it NOT objective?"

Let's say my new boss, his staff, and myself want to implement a new policy at work. Unfortunately for us, there are a couple guys in the office left over from the previous boss' tenure who disagree with us. Realizing he'd be acting like a jackass if he fired those two guys for offering their opinion, my new boss implements our policy but still allows them to keep their jobs. Even though I bitch and moan to my secretary about this, at least my boss, his staff, and I can take comfort in the fact that OUR policy went into effect and we completely ignored the recommendation of the old school employees. I think it's crystal clear here that there was absolutely NOTHING objective about my policy decisions. In fact, I actually complained about my new boss because he ALLOWED someone with a different opinion than mine to stay on board! That, in a nutshell, is what Babbin did. It's not objectivity when one complains about allowing the continuance of differing opinions!

"If the reports reflected what the admin was saying, believing, etc., what would provoke him to question the credibility?"

Oh, I don't know - maybe a little thing called truth? How about accountability? How about double-checking intel so we don't get embarrassed again like we did with Powell at the UN? Dude, you can't take something at face value because at first glance it supports your beliefs. In order to prove something, you've got to try to disprove it. Otherwise, you set yourself up for disaster.

(By the way, start looking into the oil trade currency if you'd like some better insight into the Iran sabre rattling.)

"...when no one thinks of the word that way?"

I think of marriage meaning a union legally recognized by law. Period. I'm not losing any sleep over it, even though I'm also disgusted by the idea of two dudes gettin' it on. Live and let live, man. It's as easy as that. It's not an endorsement of the lifestyle - it's an endorsement of peoples' rights to equally enjoy the benefits of freedom. Nothing more.

Mark said...

Dick Morris. He worked side by side with Hillary and Bill and now is a regular commentator on Hannity's show. He is always fair and balanced and presents both sides of every issue without injecting personal opinion.

Marshall Art said...

Kudos to Mark for actually offering an example of whom he believes is un-biased. It was kinda the topic.

But back into the fray:

Les,

I cop to the accusation that I might be a black and white kinda guy. Nuance, to me, is mostly contrived to support that which is often viewed negatively, or traditionally has been. As I've stated in the past, I find that gray areas in general are man-made. It's most obvious in the abortion debate as supporters of that heinous action use anything to slant the national feeling their way.

"Oh, really?"

Yes, really. One of the standards of success is the turning over of responsibilities for enforcement and protection to the Iraqi army and that is happening. In fact, it's happening at a level that talk of drawing down forces is being engaged in by our military leaders who are actually doing the fighting, rather than retired Clinton appointments with no real experience. One has to keep in mind the administration's goals and standards and not those said to be their's by their opposition. The problem with your side of the issue is the focus being completely on negatives involved with the endeavor, rather than on the righteousness of it and the fact that one cannot expect to follow a script in these matters. Rummy made a statement about going to war with what one has. This has to do with, not rushing to war, but rather, having the guts and will to fight it if deemed necessary, and they did deem it thusly, whether or not we had just the right amount of bullets. Evil doesn't wait until you're ready and evil was on the march.

"Sadly, you and yours were ignoring such warnings years ago."

But there were SO many. Y'all said that deposing Sadam would result in hundreds killed by the WMDs we thought he had, that his seasoned troops would be too much for us. Yet, kicking his ass was pretty simple and quick. Your side also said any jaunt into Afghanistan ignores the lessons learned by the Soviets, as if they were the gold standard. Yet we kicked the Taliban's ass and though they seek to kick back, they haven't really been successful in anything more than being a pain in the ass. So it's not as if your side had it nailed, and in fact, I submit that things are going in a manner that suggests a brighter situation. Perfect? Hardly. Beyond hope? Hardly.

"I think you understand the difference here."

Yes I do. I also understand that the people and government are not eager to see us leave in the manner proposed by the left. They want security and though some of the good ones might be frustrated with our presence, they aren't willing or ready to take on the whole show on their own. Even more, I keep seeing and hearing evidence from our own troops about how the average Iraqi is cool with our being there and understand our purpose and support it. But this is a he said/she said argument. We must agree that there is Iraqi opinion on both sides as to whether or not the Iraqis want us gone.

"How is it NOT objective?"

My point was only to show a suggestion of objectivity, not to say that it is sole proof of it. The real proof lies in determining whether or not what Babbin wrote was factual or not, and if not, did he knowingly present it as such.

"Oh, I don't know - maybe a little thing called truth?"

So are you suggesting that the media hunt for wrongdoing as if the assumption must be that there has to be some? I don't think it has ever worked this way, except by those who start off with the negative opinion of the target.

Oops! Late for work. More later.

Marshall Art said...

To continue,

Was it Babbin, or those like him, that you had in mind for double-checking intel? It is those like him that we are discussing, not intelligence agencies or the administration. Unless the pundits have inside sources, they can only go by the info released to the public, unless I'm mistaken. They can dig on their own, but I would think it is up to them to determine about what they will opine, though I'm sure they'll accept suggestions by we who read them.

"(By the way, start looking into the oil trade currency if you'd like some better insight into the Iran sabre rattling.)"

Maybe later. But until we have some truly viable alternative to oil, and all its many uses, I maintain that to allow despots and assholes to control oil is setting ourselves up for misery. I don't see that there is anything that will extricate us from our dependence in the near future.

"I think of marriage meaning a union legally recognized by law."

Uh huh. Sure. Right. I'm sorry my friend, but this is one point I'm not buying at any price. There's no way your first thought upon hearing the word is as quoted above. A moment or two after you might tell yourself that, but I don't believe it's the image that first appears in your mind. I doubt most homosexuals do, either.

But "live and let live" isn't the issue. I'm all for the concept should others not agree with traditional notions. The point is that their belief that they have some right to same-sex marriage is neither true nor does it translate into some compulsion or mandate on the part of society to comply with those beliefs. Currently, I'm already forced to provide for heinous actions through my tax dollars and I don't want this, and all that it WILL lead to, force upon me as well. And here's a tie in---those things are a result of a corrupted notion of sexuality as well. Abortion, embryonic stem cell research, these tax supported crimes against the unborn are too much by themselves, but those like yourself wish to impose similar costs to allow for the spread of disease and the hastened deaths of these confused people. And yes, if you are not voting for those who will impede the progress of these activists, you are indeed supporting, if not out-right endorsing, the lifestyle.

Now, there's a big difference between allowing others their freedoms and encouraging the state to sanction behaviors. Though Lawrence v Texas was another example of bad law as much as was Roe v Wade, I don't think I'd care to have my government peeping through windows to see what perversions two adults are perpetrating upon each other. So I don't care if they persist in such perversions in the privacy of their own homes, anymore than I'd care about a man and woman getting it on in private. But that's not enough for them. They want us to view them as just the same, and they're not, and they have no right to demand that anyone does. Keep in mind, much of their gripes about what they are denied are also denied unmarried hetero couples.

Les said...

Once again, your responses have vividly illustrated the vast differences in the two worldviews to which you and I subscribe, Art.

"Nuance, to me, is mostly contrived to support that which is often viewed negatively, or traditionally has been."

Conversely, I believe nuance exists as protection against preconceived notions of so-called absolute truths.

"...rather than on the righteousness of it..."

And this is where we part company on the Iraq issue. I'll agree completely with your point about the virtue of going to war only with what one has if the situation warrants it. As you stated, you apparently believe that the situation we see now and the costs and resources required to reach it are acceptable. I, of course, do not for reasons we've covered numerous times over the last 5 years.

"Evil doesn't wait until you're ready and evil was on the march."

And we were hot on its tail - 'til we shifted the bulk of our resources west.

"Y'all..."

Y'all? Careful with that massive brush there, dude. In the Iraq war debate, there were folks who wanted to invade and folks who didn't. There were factions on both sides of the issue who held differing opinions on how this thing would play out. As citizens, we're forced to put our trust in elected officials and hope they have the ability to properly analyze the information in front of them and make the correct decisions accordingly. In my opinion, our leaders on both sides of the aisle failed MISERABLY in this all-important fiduciary task - especially in the early days leading up to the war - and either missed or ignored what I thought were obvious indicators that this mission wasn't quite what was being sold to the American public.

"We must agree that there is Iraqi opinion on both sides as to whether or not the Iraqis want us gone."

Agreed with a caveat attached. I'm sure we can also agree that the term "Iraqi" unfortunately carries tribal implications. Let's be frank - people who live in Iraq aren't simply "Iraqis". They're Sunnis, Shi'ites, and Kurds, THEN they're Iraqis.

"My point was only to show a suggestion of objectivity..."

And you actually showed the exact opposite.

"So are you suggesting that the media hunt for wrongdoing as if the assumption must be that there has to be some?"

No, I'm suggesting the media hunt for TRUTH, Art. Looking at information without removing one's own subjectivity leaves that person susceptible to error. Again, you gotta check your own theories for holes in order to protect your claims, otherwise you set yourself up for embarrassment. Just ask Dan Rather.

"Maybe later."

I'll wait then. Make sure your focus is on the currency.

"There's no way your first thought upon hearing the word is as quoted above."

Why is that so hard for you to believe? Because I include same-sex couples in that definition? Fifteen years ago, you'd be right. Not anymore. We already covered the evolution of the connotations and denotations of our vocabulary. You've got a problem with that evolution and I don't. Art, I'm a product of divorce. My dad's actually been divorced twice. Most of the people on both sides of my family have been divorced at some point or another in their lives, so it may not surprise you that the significance of the word "marriage" is trivial at best to me. It's an overblown ideal that ultimately boils down to nothing more than a legal arrangement recognized by the state. Do people marry for reasons less cold than what I just listed? Well, of course they do. They want structure. They want a public proclamation of their love. They want to honor tradition. But in the end - especially when they fizzle out - marriages, at a pragmatic level, are nothing more than paperwork.

"...their belief that they have some right to same-sex marriage..."

But they have your oft-quoted right to the pursuit of happiness, don't they? Why remove the ability for that very pursuit?

"...I'm already forced to provide for heinous actions through my tax dollars..."

Me too. See Iraq. Does that mean I feel the president should be legally banned from making military decisions I don't agree with? Of course not. Does that mean I necessarily endorse said decisions? No way.

Marshall Art said...

"Conversely, I believe nuance exists as protection against preconceived notions of so-called absolute truths."

Yeah, my friend. Vastly different views. We'll leave this for a time when I point out a specific absolute truth with which you disagree.

"I, of course, do not for reasons we've covered numerous times over the last 5 years."

If only I could remember what those were. *snicker* But seriously, we can't truly measure whether or not it was worth it until its over. I think we'll both still be alive when it is and closer in agreement that it was indeed worth it. I'll go out on a limb and suggest you probably disagree.

"And we were hot on its tail - 'til we shifted the bulk of our resources west."

Only to another equally dangerous evil. And there are others in other parts of the world. We're concentrating on these two right now.

"...either missed or ignored what I thought were obvious indicators that this mission wasn't quite what was being sold to the American public."

What obvious indicators were those exactly? I truly don't recall.

"They're Sunnis, Shi'ites, and Kurds, THEN they're Iraqis."

Understood. I'm sure there are members of each who feel our presence is still necessary for their sakes. I don't believe that they are necessarily partisan to their faith in this regard. But between the Kurds and Shiites, we're pretty much golden still, even if they wish the day we leave comes quickly.

"And you actually showed the exact opposite."

Not true. That's your own opinion bias jumpin' in.

"No, I'm suggesting the media hunt for TRUTH, Art."

Of course. But you're also suggesting that they assume there's something amiss in every situation. I don't believe they are required or obliged or in any way mandated to look for trouble, only to report when trouble arises and then investigate the details. I can't see that they should spend their time believing everything is a cover-up, everyone's up to no good, everything's a scam, etc. Your comments indicate otherwise. Babbin simply saw a situation and wrote and investigated according to how it struck him personally. I have no doubt that if he truly thought there was a reason, or even if someone else insisted on wrongdoing, he would certainly take a serious look. But hey, as far as conservatives are concerned, they have liberals salivating over the chance to color every move, utterance or fart as laden with evil intent. You're covered.

I've gotta stop here. I'm typing on a new keyboard with a new computer and I've the experts (my daughter and her husband and friend) here to finish the install and file tranfers.

Les said...

"...indicators..."

Three big ones come to mind:

If you recall, the biggest concern at the core of my early protestations regarding the Iraq mission was the importance of the sectarian issue. I frequently offered the former Yugoslavia as a prime example of the dangers inherent in drawing a political map over what are essentially tribal lines. It's a tall order setting up a legitimate working democracy in an atmosphere accustomed to strongmen.

Another reason I felt the scope of this endeavor was wildly underestimated could be found in the depth of Islamic conviction. Was, or is, there anything about Muslim extremism that indicated this would be either cheap or easy? These wackos are in it to win it, and they're not going to waive the white flag just because we're waiving "Mission Accomplished" banners. While the president stated plainly that the War on Terror - which I DO believe in, much to the consternation of many of my colleagues - would certainly take some time, the Iraq mission itself was supposed to be far less costly in terms of manpower and resources. Not only that, an assumption was sold that Iraqis were simply Iraqis - not tribalists, as we discussed earlier - and that American intervention would be welcomed on a much grander scale. That, of course, couldn't have been further from the truth.

Third, the astounding lack of significant international cooperation spoke volumes. Say what you will about the motivations behind our allies' reluctance to play ball with us, one can't ignore the critical advantages lost by their absence. Perfect or not, an ally is still an ally, and the final draft of the Coalition of the Willing could certainly have used another rewrite or two.

"Not true. That's your own opinion bias jumpin' in."

So I'll ask YOU then - how is complaining about the continuance of differing opinions an example of objectivity?

"But you're also suggesting that they assume there's something amiss in every situation."

In a sense. It's not like one has to EXPECT errors, but one has to at least LOOK for them. Credibility demands it. It's like a scientist trying to get one of his theories upgraded to a fact. He has to evaluate all angles of the situation before he can make that leap. Using that analogy, reporters should be expected to do the same. Again, let's go back to the "Memogate" example. Rather didn't do the due diligence, and he suffered the consequences for it.

Who do the Bears play this weekend?

Marshall Art said...

"...big ones..."

While your points are valid, cost, tribalism, etc., these all have to be put up against the fact that after 12 years of ignored resolutions, Hussein continued his games, supporting terrorism, firing on our aircraft, embezzling billions of UN aid, and of course the sadistic treatment of his own people. Faulty intel or not, all signs pointed to a degree of urgency in deposing this major prick. We had to act on what we believed to be true, not on what some insist had to first be proven true. Our intel community having traded human info gathering for technological limited our ability to know for sure, anyway and fresh off the worst attack in our history, from the perspective of the time, the choice was right. The bottom line here is that though the points you bring up are valid, they are confirmed by hindsight, just as other concerns were in the same way invalidated. In addition, much of still aligns with the policy of going to war, or more precisely, doing what needs to be done, with what one has because the need is deemed great. All rather moot now, eh?

"So I'll ask YOU then - how is complaining about the continuance of differing opinions an example of objectivity?"

This is such a minor thing, but obviously, he's criticizing Bush here for keeping these Clinton appointees around. If you're earlier points about Babbin was to suggest he's biased, why mention his distaste for this Bush decision? So I'm not saying it seals the deal, only that it indicates he's not merely a shill for Bush or criticizing Shinseki merely to defend Bush.

"It's not like one has to EXPECT errors, but one has to at least LOOK for them."

I would adjust this to say 'be prepared to report on and investigate when an error arises'. Yeah, in some cases it's appropriate to dig deeper to assure that there is nothing over which anyone should be concerned, like when someone new comes on the scene politically for example, but not as a hard and fast rule. Dan Rather's situation was clearly a case of bias in HIS reporting, and he deserves the scorn and ridicule he's received, because that was clearly a case when he needed to dig more deeply.

" Who do the Bears play this weekend?"

Oh, F you!

Les said...

"...though the points you bring up are valid, they are confirmed by hindsight..."

Huh?

"Oh, F you!"

You missed a great opportunity here, Art. You should have replied, "The Broncos."

Marshall Art said...

"Huh?"

My point is that there was a lot said against Bush's decision to go to Iraq, as well as Afghanistan, and some was confirmed by going and some was proven false. Again, some thought that the experience of the Soviets should have been the lesson that we should not try, yet we kicked ass against the Taliban and provided the opportunity for a new government to take over. Some thought Hussein's troops were too heavily seasoned by years of war with Iran and we were no match for them. Also proved wrong. So we had more than enough troops to kick Sadam's ass, but not enough to secure the peace. Considering most of the country was victimized by a small faction in power, to assume they'd be happy we came is not outlandish. Actually, most probably were, but then the bullshit started and with no despot to scare the crap out of people, some got cocky. I mean, where the hell was AlSadr before we took care of the Husseins? Just like with our own left, it's easy to get cocky with those not likely to crush you. So there was lots said by the naysayers that didn't pan out. I wouldn't blow the horn over what did.

"You missed a great opportunity here, Art."

True. I forgot your recent admission of your place of origin. Still think of you as a Milwaukee guy, so I took it as a shot from a Packer fan. Not so hard to understand considering our past quips regarding Bulls v Bucks, who are in a life and death struggle to sew up last place. Great time to be in the Eastern Conference.

Say, are you really a Nuggets fan, too?

Les said...

Art, you asked about indicators, specifically. The indicators I listed weren't just conspiracy theory/moonbat/off-the-wall predictions about what would happen - they were critical pieces of relevant insight that were largely ignored, dismissed, or conveniently lumped together with less credible sources of context at a time when they couldn't have been more important. There was nothing partisan about them, nor was there any hidden agenda for pointing them out. In the years we've been arguing, have you ever known me to be an "I told you so" kind of guy? I could care less about how others opted to argue against the war, and you'd do well not to put me in the same category as them. Sure, there were many reasons given by many different anti-Iraq war groups. That doesn't mean they were all valid, and that's why I expressed frustration earlier at the acute lack of wisdom displayed by our leadership when they decided which information they would prioritize while making their decisions concerning Iraq.

"Say, are you really a Nuggets fan, too?"

For future trash-talking purposes, I'll provide some history and break down my sports allegiances for you:

NFL - Denver Broncos. I began my football fandom in the late 1980's while briefly living out west. There was God, family, and Elway. 'Nuf said. As I now live in Wisconsin again, the Pack is a very close second.

MLB - Go Brew Crew. As my father's a baseball nut, baseball was my first sports association as a child. Luckily for me, the Brewers happened to be in their prime when I was a wee child, and I have fantastic early memories of Harvey's Wallbangers at County Stadium during the early eighties. I've got some fantastic photos of a 1-year-old Les wearing a tragically oversized Brewers Beer Barrel Man t-shirt. It'll never be as good or magical for me as it was back then.

NBA - Who's gonna win it? The Bucks! The Bucks! While not the biggest basketball fan, I started getting into the Bucks when Big Dog was here. It helped that my college roommates were huge Milwaukee fans, so geography and fan association essentially helped form my Bucks allegiances. Truth be told, as merely a casual basketball fan until about 10 years ago, the only basketball entity I cared about was some Jordan guy from the Windy City. However, you'll never get me to admit as much in a court of law.

NHL - What's hockey?

Marshall Art said...

OK, dude. Cut me some slack on not remembering every detail of past posts. I'm not about to lump you with anyone but sorry cheeseheads. But I insist that even if only those things that came to pass were leveled at Bush pre-invasion, he is still the one to make the final decision and he made it based on what he knew, thought he knew and his personal ideas about what he believes to be the right thing to do. Bear in mind that there weren't only naysayers for him to give an ear. Bear in mind also the 12 years previous. Bear in mind that the idea was a war on terror, not any one dude in particular despite wanting to get bin Laden. By terro of course we mean Islamic terror and their supporters and Husseing, secular or not, was one of them.

Imagine a bully twice your size. He's messin' wit yo crew, threatening to do more and you decide to train in order to defend yourself and friends while hoping current strategies keep him at bay. You hear he's about to have some fun again but you can't confirm. There's no one else taking up the cause. His past matches the intel. You gonna let him carry on, or will you be the first to do something to stop it? This is similar to what Bush faced and his decision I believe was justified. I'm sure he wishes things were different, but I'm sure he doesn't regret the actual decision and I don't either. It was the right thing to do when Clinton was in office. We can't concern ourselves with world opinion when the right thing needs doing, and reasonable foreigners will see for themselves in time.

As to the indicators, let me say that I don't think the issue of sectarian differences was as important as merely stopping the guy who was the big pain in the ass. It's unfortunate that it wasn't dealt with in a better manner, but again, I think for the times, the urgency was felt by Bush to see that no further threats to our borders went unattended. I have to think that at the time, they might have simply, for lack of a better way to say it, hoped for the best in some areas of concern. Like I indicated, if I was under a threat by a despot like Sadam, I personally would not give crap to the nation that kicked his ass.

Cheap or easy? I think they knew damn well it wouldn't be either if the PNAC is any indication. Just how extreme the Islamists are/were was not lost on the admin as far as I can ascertain. Bush always framed it as a long, hard journey.

Allies. All but two as I recall. Few of them were in percentages much different from the previous venture under Bush 41. Again, that goes to going in with what one has. The right thing to do needs to be done and often at great risk.

As far as misjudgements, they're pretty common in war.

Marshall Art said...

BTW, I've been to a Brewers game back when they were AL and playing against the White Sox. Lots of fights in the stands to go with the brew. Nice looking stadium, though.