In which left wing bloggers cover Jonah’s debt

And yeah, I’m one of them.

Dear Jonah,

You’ve made it clear that you do not intend to pay off the $1000 wager you made with Juan Cole two years ago. You told Editor and Publisher that Jeff Cohen, founder of the Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, (and, presumably, the rest of the bloggers who’ve been bugging you about the bet) know that “Cole never took the bet, but he’s trying to muddy the waters. Indeed, I’ve admitted that Cole would have won. I’ve written that the Iraq War was a mistake.” And you have. Kudos (although I think your statement before the war that “The United States needs to go to war with Iraq because it needs to go to war with someone in the region and Iraq makes the most sense” demands something more than a simple apology. A year in a hairshirt, perhaps? Six months as a lunch lady at the Camp Anaconda chow hall? People are, after all, dying over there.)

Still, you’re right that Cole didn’t officially take the bet, suggesting for some odd reason that betting on a tragedy like the debacle in Iraq was immoral and disgusting. “(V)ery, very lame,” you wrote, taking what you called a “victory lap.” After all, you said, you had written that you “don’t think it’s right to bet on such serious matters for personal gain” and offered to send the money to the USO, which, obviously absolves you of any taint. Instead of treating the war like a thrilling bloodsport–a cockfight, for example–your offer to give the money to the USO made the bet more like a wager over a gigantic, horrendous, collateral-damage-causing cockfight for charity! Much better.

But I don’t want this whole ordeal to rest uncomfortably upon your conscience, so I and a few friends of mine are going to cover your bet, Jonah. A few of my left blogger friends and I will each toss a few bucks into a hat to send to the USO to cover the $1000 they won’t be getting from you. (I’ll post some of their names later if they tell me they want me to.) Hell, I’ll even put “From Jonah Goldberg” on the memo line of my check. There. You can rest easy.

After you do one more thing.

You have admitted that you were wrong about Iraq and that the war was a “mistake,” but let’s go back to your original post:

Anyway, I do think my judgment is superior to his when it comes to the big picture. So, I have an idea: Since he doesn’t want to debate anything except his own brilliance, let’s make a bet…

You see, while you’ve admitted your error, you have never clearly backed away from the first sentence in this paragraph. So, all I ask that you do in return for the fact that we lefties are covering your bet is admit clearly and publicly that Juan Cole’s judgment is superior to yours when it comes to the big picture.

The USO will get the money no matter what you decide, Jonah. As someone who slept in a few airport USOs while in the service and drank plenty of the coffee at the USO on Bagram Air Field, I know how helpful the USO is to soldiers away from home. I hope, however, you can see your way clear to the admission that Professor Cole deserves. Trust me, you’ll feel better. You might even feel so good you’ll want to make a habit out of saying and writing things that have a clear basis in fact.

Yours truly,


… adding: If you’d like to contribute to a good cause, in Jonah’s name or not, you can do so here.