When a state which has convinced the world it is a bastion of human rights initiates aggression, its leaders must make extraordinary efforts to bridge the enormous moral gap which this opens.

JANUARY 23, 2004

Where The Lies Are Told…

On January 19, 2005, Barbara Boxer, Democratic Senator from California and Condoleezza Rice, Bush's nominee for Secretary of State to replace Colin Powell, talked to each other. Reuters captured the exchange with a video camera and posted it to their website.

Two things stood out. The huge intellectual mismatch between Boxer and Rice in favor of Rice and the diametrically opposed mental models the two were speaking from.

Here's Boxer's statement:

And I think if you'd ask the average American, you know, was Saddam worth one life, one American life, they'd say no. He's the bottom of the barrel, and, and, and the fact is we've lost so many lives over this. So if we do get a little testy on the point, and I admit to be so, uh, it's because it continues day in and day out, and 25% of the dead are from California. You cannot forget, you cannot forget that.

According to the mental image she's speaking from, the US was faced with the decision as to whether to rescue Saddam Hussein, say, from a burning building in March of 2003. Within the logic of her mental image, she would let him burn rather than risk an American life to save him. This image is so divorced from any reality whatsoever, that it raises questions about the rationality of her thought processes. These questions are reinforced by her extremely limited active vocabulary and the misuse of a common metaphor.

To her, Saddam Hussein, is "the bottom of the barrel." This is an inappropriate use of the metaphor, "Scraping the bottom of the barrel," which means one is depleting one's options and is left with "what's at the bottom of the barrel," i.e., the least desireable.

Her statement is littered with inanities which should be obvious to the reader. But what was critical to her interlocutor was the last sentence, which, in baseball parlance, was a slow ball. Maybe that's why Boxer is a senator. She reminds me of the kind of person with a nearly blank mind that is favored by attorneys in the jury selection process in civil trials.

So how did Rice respond to that slow ball? She hit it out of the park using language derived from her mental construct. Here's what she said:

May I just close by saying, Senator Boxer I, probably more than most, uh, because I did have a role in, uh, the President's decision to go to war, mourn every day the people that are lost. I look at their pictures. I think about their families. I've been to Walter Reed. I see the pain and suffering. I believe that their service and the sacrifice was needed for our security. I don't think there is anyone who believes that you could have gone into Iraq and nabbed Saddam Hussein. It wasn't that kind of regime.

Except for those two time-buying "uh's," which are interesting because of where they occur, it's a perfectly literate paragraph. The string of short staccato sentences, "I look at…," "I think about…," "I've been to…," "I see the…," shows an easy mastery of the art of rhetoric. She uses the personal pronoun "I" nine times in eight sentences. Rice is definitely master of her thoughts and takes responsibility for them. Compare that to Boxer's sheepish use of the "average American" as a proxy for her unwillingness to take responsibility for her own opinions.

What about those two "uh's?" These are deliberately placed, and given the obvious lightning speed of Rice's mental processes, they gave her time to do a lot of thinking. What was she doing all that thinking about? She was deciding whether or not to say, "I did have a role in the President's decision to go to war." There's only one thing critical about that statement: It's an admission of guilt to committing a war crime under international law. It's in the public record and it was said under oath, making it impossible to deny.

And what is Rice's mental construct in terms of Boxer's? In Rice's, Saddam Hussein, rather than being in the burning house, is an arsonist presenting a credible threat of setting the American house on fire. It's hard to imagine two people coming from such different perspectives without trying to reconcile them first in order to have a basis for discussion.

Rice's version has been totally discredited, but not in the halls of Congress. And Boxer, with her extremely limited intellectual resources, is incapable of calling her on it.

Boxer Rice
Wideband Wideband
Dialup Dialup

So while this non-debate non-rages…

…And Where The Triggers Are Pulled

On the night of January 18-19, 2005, the irrelevent delusions of Senator Boxer and Secretary of State designate Condoleezza Rice had their real world consequences.

Chris Hondros, a news photographer with Getty News "embedded" with the US Army, accompanied a night patrol in the Iraqi town of Tal Afar. In the near darkness, at an intersection, in a town, in a country whose language and customs they did not understand, they encountered a moving passenger vehicle.

To read Hondros's account click here.

[Note: There is a discrepancy of 1 in the number of children involved.]