September 29, 2002
Twisted Leer

I rather resent having to waste time on this crap, but since I rashly promised a response on Friday, here goes. David Yaseen of 'Level Gaze' has replied (9/26, 9:52 AM) to my reply to his 'open letter' on the Shropshire Challenge. Herewith his latest words, interleaved with my latest replies:

Hey everybody! It finally happened! Dr. Weevil has responded to my open letter! He says it was "serious" and "relatively coherent!" I'm legit now, baby!

If you want a quick response to an 'open letter', you might want to try notifying the supposed recipient, particularly if you pretend to be writing to someone who has no reason to know you exist. And "relatively coherent" is not much of a compliment, since it means only that it is more coherent than Pseudo-Hesiod's lame reply. As for "serious", I gave Yaseen too much credit: as his language here shows, and as we will see below in more detail, his reply to my reply shows that he is anything but serious.

I think he missed the point.

Mere assertion, though (again) we will see that 'Level Gaze' is no slouch when it comes to missing points.

In the Shropshire Challenge, he called upon those opposed to the war to go to Iraq as human shields against the US armed forces. If they didn't, they should "shut the hell up about chickenhawks." He did not feel that an equivalent level of commitment to his side was appropriate.

This is exactly backwards. My argument was a reply to months of 'chickenblogger' language from 'Hesiod', Shropshire, and others. All I was doing was turning their argument back on them. Trying to turn it back on me again is dishonest. It is the antiwarbloggers who demand that warbloggers all enlist, but do not seem to feel that an equivalent level of commitment to their side is appropriate. I'm perfectly happy to discuss the pros and cons of war without reference to anyone's military experience or lack thereof.

            I replied that he and the rest of the warbloggers are the ones advocating change, and, if anyone were to "put up," they should. Then I called him a hypocrite. He responds:

This is more than a bit misleading. The status quo is highly unlikely to continue. Everyone knows that a U.S. invasion of Iraq is very likely, and that it will come soon, unless something happens to stop it. Non-invasion may be the status quo, but invasion is the default. That means that I don't have to do anything to bring about an invasion, since it will go ahead with or without me. (Not to mention that I can't do anything but argue, since I'm too old to enlist and, even if I weren't, I wouldn't make it through boot camp and specialized training in time to see action.) But anyone who seriously opposes an invasion of Iraq can and should do something to prevent it while there is still time. 'Level Gaze' has it exactly backwards: I don't have to do anything except argue against objections such as his. He on the other hand needs to do some serious work if he wants to stop the war, and sitting around bitching about it isn't going to suffice.

Got that? It's going to happen anyway, so it magically becomes the "default," which is somehow different from the "status quo." Leaving that to one side, it could make one question the reasoning behind Dr. Weevil's (and the rest of the warbloggers') need to argue in favor of invasion. If it's inevitible, cheering it on won't help. Even the need to "argue against objections such as [mine]" dissolves. It's also nice to know that Dr. Weevil believes that our government cannot be swayed by means short of direct physical intervention. I and others who are against the war are "do[ing] some serious stop the war."

This guy needs to learn to read. Saying that war is "the default" does not imply that it is inevitable (note spelling), just that it is by far the most likely outcome of current trends and conditions. There is nothing magical about it. Status quos don't preserve themselves, and the current status quo (non-invasion of Iraq) is highly unlikely to last more than a few weeks or at most months, unless something unusual happens to dissuade the administration from their plans for war. One more time: the invasion will go forward -- is already going forward -- with or without me. On the other hand, mere words are unlikely to dissuade Bush at this point, so only action can prevent war. Pacifists are being recruited to act as 'human shields' in Iraq. If enough could be found, war could be prevented, but only a few dozen have volunteered so far. (See the Rottweiler's recent post on this: if the address doesn't work, it's dated 9/26 at 9:22 PM.) Why don't the antiwarbloggers sign up? Do they suffer from the same lack of guts they are so quick to attribute to non-veteran 'warbloggers'? It seems a fair question. How hard would it have been to figure out what I meant?

Besides, the last I heard, we're still waiting on United Nations and congressional approval for invasion, which seems to indicate that the question is still up in the air. For all of the administration's bluster, we may yet be deterred. I and a lot of other people throughout the world believe it's possible, otherwise our speaking out against invasion would be equally pointless. He wants an invasion and I don't.

Thinking that Bush is likely to allow himself to be overruled by the U.N., or that Congress will attempt to overrule him is awfully naïve. As for being deterred by world or antiwarblogger opinion, that is possible, but extremely unlikely, not least because arguments against war are going to have to be much better than those we have seen so far to be effective.

But the main point is that those of us against the war, including Phillip Shropshire, aren't obligated to put their lives on the line because of our opinions. Honestly, stopping the war in Iraq isn't worth my life, however many other lives it may wind up costing. If it is your opinion that standing up for what you believe in--or even stating your beliefs--requires putting your life on the line, then it applies to everybody, not just to those with whom you disagree. And them what starts a fight has to go first, as a show of good faith. Shropshire was supposed to put himself in the line of fire, but, sadly, Dr. Weevil is too old to enlist, and shouldn't have to because war is inevitible anyway. That's as far as he got with the argument, and that's why I called him a hypocrite.

Once again, this is backwards. It is not my opinion that "standing up for what you believe in--or even stating your beliefs--requires putting your life on the line": it is the opinion of anyone who uses the term 'chickenblogger'. They think that we, the so-called 'warbloggers', are not entitled to support war on Iraq unless we join the armed forces. Since human shields are desperately needed to prevent war, the same argument applies à fortiori to them: are they willing to lay their lives on the line to prevent war? It seems to me that they have four choices: (a) enlist as a human shield, (b) stop using the term, and apologize for ever having used it, (c) admit that they are contemptible hypocrites, who abuse others for not doing what they are unwilling to do themselves, or (d) try to confuse the issue by pretending not to understand it. It appears that David Yaseen chooses 'd'.

My point can perhaps be sharpened up a bit: if war is a horrible mistake, and will cost tens of thousands of innocent lives, why is averting it not worth the single life of David Yaseen? Apparently he thinks his precious life is worth more than the lives of any number (ten thousand? a hundred thousand?) of Iraqis. Arrogant, gutless, or clueless? You be the judge. (The three are not mutually exclusive.)

Yaseen's next paragraph lazily strings together a dozen hit-and-run answers and pseudo-answers to my various points. I have inserted the red numbers to make reply more convenient:

The rest of the response is taken up with: [1] his belief that invasion will do more good than leaving things as they are (I disagree--what happens when Israel gets into the slog, that'll be good for everybody, right?); [2] his interesting hypothesis that I would have opposed the Normandy invasion (which, I believe, was one of many results of unprovoked aggression, and therefore righteous); [3] about his nephew-who-almost-enlisted-in-the-Marines (whatever); [4] a non-argument to the effect that the armed forces are not only (I had said "mostly") comprised of people from the lower classes and minorities (they are, very disproportionately, especially the infantry); [5] that Iraq poses a threat to us (sure, if Saddam is willing to have his country flattened for him); [6] that Iraq intends harm to its neighbors as can be deduced from its actions toward Iran, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia (the war with Iran we actively encouraged and suppported, the war with Kuwait we pretended to green-light (see April Glaspie), and Saudi Arabia is a non-issue); [7] a confusion of Iraq with Afghanistan (which, although in some ways is better off than it had been under the Taliban, has seen a return of the rule of warlords and looks about ripe for a re-descent into civil war); [8] that "war is necessary" because Hussein is a "psychopathic thug" who has "good reason" to hate the US (hmm...a psychopath with good reason...will he use it? Will we be removing the rest of the thugs of the world? Does Musharraf count?); [9] that I "have a seriously exaggerated idea of the importance of the Blogosphere" because I put him in the same sentence with the Bush administration (I'm addressing you, who agree with the administration. I want you both to do the same thing. Why on earth wouldn't I put you in the same sentence? Cheap (and inaccurate) shot); [10] more arguments that I should be willing to die a traitor because I am against a proposed policy of the administration (let's all go stand in the way of a tank to protest the tax hike!); [11] that none of the chickenhawks have threatened to punish any human shields (they have indeed; they're called Iraqi citizens, and Saddam will be using tens of thousands of them); [12] and how many celebrities will fit on the head of a cruise missle (all of them).

  1. I openly admitted that it is possible that invasion of Iraq will lead to disaster. It is not my 'belief' but my considered judgment that war is less likely to lead to disaster than temporization and hoping for the best. Calling it a 'belief' cheapens it and makes it sound irrational.
  2. Blatant misrepresentation. I specifically said that the same argument he uses to oppose invading Iraq would have compelled him (if he were logically consistent) to oppose the Normandy invasion. After all, if the fact that innocent civilians will be killed in a war is sufficient to show that the war is wrong, then the liberation of France must have been wrong. And he completely ignores what I said about the lives that would (will?) be saved in the future if Iraq is liberated from Saddam Hussein's brutal tyranny, and about the value of freedom, which Americans are supposed to think is worth risking lives for.
  3. He suggested that 'warbloggers' have no loved ones in the armed services, and this is simply false. I gave two counter-examples from my own experience, and he ignores one and says "whatever" about the other. How's that for honest argument? He also slips in a little sneer. In fact, I believe that my nephew signed the paperwork and would be in the Marines right now if he had passed the physical, as he thought he would. As I have said before, the armed forces can afford to be picky, and Bush has not had to go on television to beg people to sign up for an invasion of Iraq. It is the 'human shields' who are begging for recruits, so far with little success.
  4. Mere evasion. The clear implication of his argument was that 'warbloggers' don't serve in the military and don't know anyone who serves and therefore don't care about military casualties. This is utterly false, as my examples showed.
  5. I don't claim to know whether Hussein would use a nuclear weapon if he had one. Maybe, maybe not. I don't want to give him the choice, because I'd just as soon not have to find out which he would choose. Those such as 'Hesiod' who are absolutely certain that Hussein would never use nuclear weapons, either for blackmail or for destruction, are fools. And those such as 'Hesiod' who ignore the fact that Hussein is not a young man and will one day in the not too distant future (if he is not deposed) be succeeded by someone who might turn out to be even less deterrable -- someone like Qusay or Uday -- are worse than fools.
  6. That Saddam Hussein has invaded other countries before, more than once and without provocation, is supposed to be unimportant in judging whether he is likely to commit different forms of aggression in the future. I would think Yaseen would be ashamed to make such a silly statement. Note also how he contrives to blame the invasions of Iran and Kuwait on the U.S., as if poor Hussein had no will of his own.
  7. Yaseen assumed that Afghanistan is now worse off than before American intervention. I offered a strong reason for believing that he is wrong. If he can't refute my argument, he needs to admit that he was wrong, instead of continuing to waffle.
  8. Mere verbal quibbling: the reason Hussein has to hate the U.S. is not the same kind of reason that insane people lack. It would have been clearer if I had written 'motive' rather than 'reason', but I doubt that anyone else misunderstood my point.
  9. 'Warbloggers' argue with Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, and Richard Cohen, taking on the big dogs and hoping that someone will notice their flea-like attacks. Why do 'antiwarbloggers' confine themselves to sniping at the 'warbloggers', like microbes on fleas, instead of taking on the arguments of (for instance) Charles Krauthammer and Michael Kelly? (Calling the latter a "WHORE", as Yaseen does, doesn't count.) It looks like they're more interested in increasing their hit counts by arguing with those who may possibly link back to them than actually convincing anyone that war on Iraq is a bad idea. One more sign that Yaseen is not serious.
  10. This is true only if he thinks that I can't argue for war without putting on a uniform first.
  11. Willful misrepresentation: he knows I'm talking about American and other non-Iraqi human shields. I even mentioned that American shields would be more effective than Europeans in deterring war. The fact that Jane Fonda was never seriously threatened with jail time, much less hanging, for her trips to North Vietnam, even when she shot an anti-aircraft gun at an American bomber, shows that human shields have little to fear in the way of prosecution or even persecution. The more recent examples I gave show exactly the same.
  12. Sneering at a sound argument does not make it unsound. Groups of human shields would in fact be far more effective in deterring war if they included celebrities, or active bloggers like Philip Shropshire -- or David Yaseen.

So much for numbered points. To continue:

Note the absence of a response to my argument.

Note the bald-faced lie -- not his first. I answered every argument, paragraph by paragraph, and have now done so again, though his own arguments are quite slapdash -- three more hours of my life I'll never get back.

In the process, he describes my post with nice words like "pretentious," "fifth-rate," "absurd," and "bilge." He tells me I need to "shut the fuck up about chickenhawks" because I'm not willing to go stand in the middle of a war zone. Shut the fuck up or die. A beautiful sentiment from one American to another. And I should apologize. To whom? I think I'll do neither, thank you.

The next paragraph is repeated from my comment on his blog:

Don't put words in my mouth. I never said "shut the fuck up or die", I said "shut the fuck up about 'chickenhawks'" (note the specific limitation), unless you are willing to risk your life to stop the war. I wouldn't have said that much if it weren't for all the hypocrites like Shropshire and 'Hesiod' who demand that I either join the army or shut up about the war. I'm only turning their argument back on them. Three weeks later, Shropshire still hasn't come up with an answer to the challenge, and 'Hesiod' has carefully ignored all my stronger points while pretending he won the argument, much like Yaseen's false claim that I haven't responded to his.

I have already replied to the rude language charge in the second-to-last entry before this one.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Yaseen's reply is that it entirely ignores my last paragraph.

Notice: If I fail to respond to anything David Yaseen says in the future on any subject, that is not to be taken as agreement with him (unlikely), or inability to answer his arguments (fat chance), but mere unwillingness to waste time arguing with such a dishonest and incompetent debater.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at September 29, 2002 08:31 PM

You're still mud wrestling.
FYI, Justin was committed, if he'd passed the physical, Parris Island would have been his next stop.

Posted by: steevil on September 29, 2002 10:38 PM

Thanks for the confirmation, and for the offer of a laptop. My problem then wasn't so much lack of a computer as lack of an outlet to plug it into. As for mud-wrestling, it's actually kind of fun in a perverse way, and I figure maybe some of the onlookers will learn something even if D.Y. is totally unteachable.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on September 30, 2002 05:57 AM

I think it is unbelievably presumptuous of the anti-warblogger crowd to baldly state that the political bloggers who support the war have to enlist to gain legitimacy, while ignoring those of us who are *already* in the service. "Sgt. Stryker" is one example; I am another. There are a number of others out there, some in the reserves, some on active duty. Not only do I have loved ones in the service; I have a very intimate and personal experience.

I am not on the front lines; I work at a base in Europe, supporting units engaged in Operation Northern Watch. Does this mean that my views are also not valid to the leftists? That those who support the war must not only enlist, but also make sure to get orders that ship them off to the front lines, regardless of the needs of the military, in order to comment on the war?

(Shakes head in disgust)

Posted by: timekeeper on October 1, 2002 11:29 AM

Dr. Weevil,

You’ve got it all wrong baby, see we’re all about Peace and Love. It’s you Dr. Weevil who want to go around blowing up people and killing.

I don’t think that you’ve really understood that your position on Iraq will always be suspect, to say the least and calling you a hypocrite sort of comes naturally.

The definition of hipocrisy according to some such online dictionary is:

Expression of agreement that is not supported by real conviction.

1. You advocate a course of action, i.e. that our military invade Iraq.
2. You excuse yourself from the same course of action.

Doing so as argued by Shropshire and company undermines your conviction and proves it false. To make matters worse, Mr. Yaseen and company sneer at your doctors note excusing you from the war, demanding some sort of proof of conviction.

Here lies the problem, because the fact of the matter is, you don’t really have proof and it isn’t as if much of this will effect you. For the most part, all your yammerings about how just and right this war is will be reflected upon from whatever armchair in front of the television you prefer. Furthermore, from your cozy little home in Rochester, or wherever it is you live, you will suffer little more than increased gas prices. When was the last time anyone tried to invade your home town?

So are you an interested party? In what way does this effect you? I can’t say, but it does make me question your motives. As for Shropshire, he seems a bit young, not very saavy. One would assume that he’s about draft age. Now if this course of action that you advocate goes awry, who between the two of you finds themselves at a disadvantage?

To clarify things, lets take up the whole chickenhawk issue. Your argument is that it’s incorrect to assume that only people who have military experience can judge whether or not we should wage war. Okay, no problem with that. But the fact is, that a number of people making the decisions on when we wage war behaved less than gallantly when called upon by our country. Our own president was AWOL through part of the Vietnam War. If that doesn’t smack of hipocrisy, I don’t know what does. Again, you win if you say all this suspicion does not make their arguments incorrect. Or more succinctly, shit may not look right, but it damn sure smells. If the leaders of my country ask men to lay down their lives to preserve this country I find it disheartening to learn there’s no quid pro quos.

I was 21 at the time of the Gulf War, looking back through my journals I was not satisfied with the answers given at the time, but resolved that if there were a draft, I would serve and die accordingly if necessary. Yeah, die. You, myself and any number of your five star lazy boy recliner general friends get to sit this one out. Not so for some of your former students. My only problem is that I live in New York, and if this war blows up you and your asshat friends have put an even bigger target sign over the city.

For a self professed master of classics, I suggest you pick up a copy of The Art of War. Read the chapter on the power of the sheathed sword. War should be a means of last resort. Yaseen is right to question whether or not we’ve exhausted all resources before we commit ourselves. We should question the evidence, our plans and our resources before we shed one drop of blood. Are we as a country really threatened by Iraq? Is the best way to help the people of Iraq to bomb their country and kill off part of their population?

This is the United States going on the offensive, outside the Monroe Doctrine. Without economic or political support from anyone else. Hell, Kuwait was blood for oil, but at least the Saudi’s and company pitched in to cover costs. Even if this is a resounding success with few casualties, you’ve now saddled the country with billions in debt, and how much will it cost to support the new regime? For how long? Gee thanks Dr. Weevil.

So you’re incensed that we look at you as a hypocrite. Offering bold military solutions from the country’s forces doesn’t seem to mean much to you who we point out have nothing to lose personally. Trying to turn the tables around and call us hypocrites isn’t the same. As Yaseen pointed out being anti-war doesn’t make us pro anything. Reverse the logic, if I’m pro-peace, that makes you anti-peace. As much as I disagree with you, I at least assume that this is a fallacy.

On the other hand, maybe we are as cowardly and hypocritical as you. We never professed to be any better. But at the very least I do have one suggestion. Take whatever money you get from the Schropshire challenge and create a fund for those who have lost loved ones in your war. Because in the end, the truth is that if we go to war Americans will die. Call us cowards, but we’d rather not see our countrymen die needlessly and our resources squandered uselessly.

Posted by: gheimiah on October 1, 2002 01:42 PM

Ohhh, but Timekeeper,

Surely you guys in the military are too fettered by the military/industrial complex to be able to speak your minds. I mean, the secret police would surely scoop you up and you would never be heard from again!

Funny how those of use who support intervention is Iraq are just sheep, while the WBW crowd offers us NOTHING that has even the faintest possibility of changing our minds.

I believe that Level Gaze's tactic has now become standard fare for most of the anti-war whiners. No one comes to their blogs more than once or twice before deciding it is more of the same purile whining and carping, and removing it from their blogroll. The best way to combat being ignored because you are an idiot is to pick a fight with someone not considered an idiot, and then revel in the hits the fued generates. Glenn over at Instapundit was the prototypical target, until he just started ignoring the people seeking to gain recognition by picking fights devoid of content. Never mind that most of those "hits" (like over at WBW) are generated by people who are there to laugh at you rather than agree with you, its still attention.

Posted by: Neal on October 1, 2002 01:49 PM

Just what I needed: another long-winded and semi-literate troll. (I mean 'gheimiah', of course, not Neal.) Why do so many leftist opponents of war on Iraq feel entitled to be rude and stupid in their objections? The message is not worth refuting in detail, but here are a few brief comments:

1. Of course, I think it would be a good idea to "blow up" the Iraqi nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare laboratories and warehouses, to kill or capture Saddam Hussein, his sons Qusay and Uday, every high-ranking official in his regime, and all the low-ranking officials in the WMD and torture departments. It's a big job, but if it can be done, Iraq and the world will be better places, with far more Peace and Love than are currently found.

2. Note the abundance of ignorant drive-by sneers. Why should I claim to be 49 if I'm not? If it were only to get out of being expected to serve, I could just as easily claim to be a disabled war hero who had his shins shot off in the first Gulf War. And why would I claim to live in Rochester, of all places, if I actually lived elsewhere? Paris, or London, or Oxford (England, not Mississippi), maybe, but . . . Rochester, New York? 'gheimiah' just can't stop accusing others of lying even when lying would be pointless. Of course, he has no proof that he is not a paid agent of the Iraqi government, or has two heads, or is posting from a mental hospital.

Interestingly, a Google search on 'gheimiah' comes up empty. I wonder if he's a David Yaseen sock puppet trying to get around my statement that I was unlikely to reply to further Yaseen effusions.

3. "When was the last time anyone tried to invade your home town?" Last September 11th, when I was living at 144th and Broadway and working in the west '90s. I would be living in New York City still if I'd managed to secure a long-term job there. One reason I live in Rochester is to visit the city as often as possible.

4. "Now if this course of action that you advocate goes awry, who between the two of you [myself and Shropshire] finds themselves at a disadvantage?" Neither, obviously. The U.S. has no draft, has not had one in many years (I was a member of the last class subject to it), and no one is seriously arguing that we should have one. Philip Shropshire is therefore in no more danger than I of being drafted: the probability is somewhat less than .0001 in each case. It is hard to even imagine a plausible scenario that would require the restoration of the draft any time in the next decade -- simultaneous invasions by China of Taiwan, North Korea of South Korea, and Pakistan by India? Even that would probably not suffice.

5. Of course, if war goes badly, I could easily suffer the loss of some of those I hold dear, who are even now serving in the armed forces. These include some I consder friends but have never actually met, like the Timekeeper and all the gang over at Sgt. Stryker. (Thanks for the reminder, TK.) Whether Shropshire or 'gheimiah' has any friends (or relatives) in the military is not at all clear. Probably not, or they would surely have mentioned them.

6. What kind of hypocrite mentions Bush as a supposed draftdodger without mentioning his predecessor, who actually lied his way out of serving in the military in any capacity whatsoever and then went on to bomb Serbia and intervene militarily in quite a few other countries? I await evidence that 'gheimiah' has ever accused the previous president of chickenhawkery. Until then, his own hypocrisy is both obvious and contemptible.

7. "I was 21 at the time of the Gulf War, . . . ." Wow, 'gheimiah' was willing to die in a war he had zero chance of being called to serve in. Or at least so he now claims. I'm so impressed by his guts.

8. "As Yaseen pointed out being anti-war doesn't make us pro anything." Actually it makes you pro status quo, which means pro keeping Saddam Hussein in power to continue brutalizing his suffering people, and pro allowing him to continue developing nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons for whatever purposes he (or his heirs) may have in their evil little minds. If he ever uses them, saying you weren't "pro anything" will not get you off the moral hook.

That's more than enough for this cretin, who is now banned for being tiresome as well as offensive and stupid.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on October 1, 2002 08:37 PM


Thanks for the clarification on that Troll comment.....

Posted by: Neal on October 1, 2002 08:52 PM


Look, for one I'm not Mr. Yaseen. Furthermore I never questioned your age or where you lived. Why should I?

[The remainder of this comment has been deleted. It was just as dishonest, for the most part incoherent, and in many parts quite offensive. The commenter has been banned.]

Posted by: gherimiah on October 3, 2002 09:39 PM

Now 'gherimiah' or 'gheimiah' or whatever the Hell his name is says "I never questioned your age or where you lived". That is at least one lie, probably two.

In his previous comment he wrote "from your cozy little home in Rochester, or wherever it is you live". How is that not questioning whether I actually live in Rochester? As for my age, his previous comment is not entirely coherent, but the remark about how I "donít really have proof" to defend myself against Yaseen seems, in context, to say that I don't have proof that I'm too old to enlist. Since 'gherimiah' lies about questioning where I live, I think it's fair to suppose that he is also lying about questioning my age.

So why should he question my location or age? Most likely because he's an asshole, as abundantly illustrated in the rest of his latest comment, which I have deleted. If 'gherimiah' wants to insult me in long-winded and dishonest ways, he's going to have to start his own blog to do it.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on October 3, 2002 11:12 PM

Dr. Weevil
Very glad to see the phrase "bald-faced lie" in your reply to Yaseen. I can't think how many times I've seen "bold face lie" recently.

Posted by: Paul on October 4, 2002 05:56 PM