"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Friday, October 29, 2004

My Pet Goat 

One of the things that distinguishes lawyers from normal, healthy people is that lawyers grasp the concept of "arguing in the alternative." You hear it sometimes in criminal cases: "My client did not shoot the victim, and if my client did shoot the victim, it was self-defense." Arguing in the alternative is legally permissible but it is rarely very persuasive, as illustrated by the well-known law school hypothetical about the goat and the cabbages.

It goes like this - a farmer brings suit against his neighbor, claiming that the neighbor's goat ate the farmer's cabbages. The neighbor responds:
1. You never had any cabbages.

2. If you ever had any cabbages, they weren't eaten.

3. If your cabbages were eaten, they weren't eaten by a goat.

4. If your cabbages were eaten by a goat, it wasn't my goat.

5. If your cabbages were eaten by my goat, he was insane.

Now, this president is famously not a lawyer; he received an MBA - not a JD - as a gift from his dad's old buddies. Still, when you look at the stories coming from the White House and its environs concerning the al Qa Qaa scandal, it's obvious that there is a lawyer somewhere calling the shots:
1. There never were any explosives at al Qa Qaa.

2. If there were explosives at al Qa Qaa, they were never looted.

3. If explosives were looted from al Qa Qaa, it happened before the invasion.

4. If explosives were looted from al Qa Qaa after the invasion, the Russians did it and they're in Syria now.

5. If explosives were looted from al Qa Qaa after the invasion and they're still in Iraq, blowing up our soldiers, it's the soldiers' fault.

No wonder Chimpy spent those seven minutes reading My Pet Goat - he was studying!




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