Monday, March 31, 2003

Does it get dumber than this?

Saddam Hussein has committed some of the biggest environmental crimes of all time. He may still commit even bigger ones. So environmentalists are leading — or at least supporting — the charge to oust Saddam, right? Wrong.

Most environmental groups have gone absent-without-leave when it comes to removing Saddam — even without the use of force. A few are protesting the war. Incredibly, some are even portraying the U.S. as the real threat to the environment.

During the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam’s troops set 600 Kuwaiti oil wells ablaze "creating a toxic smoke that choked the atmosphere and blocked the sun," according to news reports. The smoke was so thick for a time that the temperature in Kuwait was 10 degrees below normal.

Iraqi troops dumped an estimated 50 million barrels of oil into the Kuwaiti desert, forming huge oil lakes and contaminating aquifers.

Another 4 million barrels of oil were dumped into the Persian Gulf — an act of eco-sabotage some 25 times larger than the accidental Exxon Valdez oil spill off the coast of Alaska.

The environmentalists almost gleefully have persecuted Exxon. Saddam, though, gets a free pass....

--Fox News

When has Saddam done these things? When his country has been invaded. Is this a good thing? Absolutely not. Is Saddam a green guy? Absolutely not. But would he be setting oil fires if there were no frigging war? No, he wouldn't.

Right-wingers think they have an inalienable right to whack a hornets' nest with a stick any time they want -- and if you suggest that they're responsible when someone gets stung, they say you're "pro-hornet."
Eric Alterman's What Liberal Media? makes the extended New York Times bestseller list.

(Yeah, there's a lot of crap above it, including three Regnery books, but still....)

Among supporters of the war in Iraq I doubt there's a single one who's "pro-war." No one wants war, no one likes war....

--right-wing academic David Gelertner at a Yale pro-war rally, 3/26/03


As for peace, [Moore] quotes an operative known only as "Jack" -- because he is still deeply involved in the search for Osama bin Laden, his full identity is withheld -- as he sits in as Kabul hotel bar: "'God, I hate it when a war ends,' Jack said quietly as he stared at his drink. His teary eyes glassed over from the booze."

--review of Robin Moore's new book The Hunt for bin Laden in the New York Daily News, 3/23/03 (no longer available free online; abstract available here)


Among supporters of the war in Iraq I doubt there's a single one who's "pro-war." No one wants war, no one likes war....

--right-wing academic David Gelertner at a Yale pro-war rally, 3/26/03

Yeah, right. This guy clearly hated war -- he was just putting on a brave face.
Some interesting poll results:

While the American public has rallied behind President Bush on the Iraq war, two-thirds say the United States should not feel free to use military force in the future without U.N. support, says a new poll.

Three-fourths said they support the president's decision to go to war with Iraq, says the survey. But almost that many, 66 percent, said they don't think the United States should feel free to use force without the backing of the United Nations....

The poll, by the Program for International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, was taken March 22-25 by Knowledge Networks of 795 respondents. It has an error margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points....

Three in 10 said the United States should govern Iraq after the war, while half said the United Nations should assume that role.

A solid majority, 72 percent, says the United Nations should take the lead in dealing with North Korea. And six in 10 want the international organization to take the lead in monitoring Iran, which contends that its nuclear program is strictly for energy production....

--San Francisco Chronicle

A majority of those who responded to the new [NBC News/Wall Street Journal] poll want the U.S. military to avoid civilian casualties: 56 percent said the military should do all it can to minimize Iraqi civilian casualties, even if it means taking longer to accomplish its objectives. Thirty-eight percent said the military should use whatever force was required to do the job.

More than a quarter of those polled — 28 percent — said that regardless of the force used, the war’s outcome would yield no clear winner. Statistically, it was about the same percentage of Americans that responded to the same question in 1991 — before the end of the first Gulf War, which left Saddam in power.

Perhaps independent of war concerns, Americans concerned about the economic downturn had low marks for Bush’s proposed tax-cut plan: 52 percent said Congress should not pass the plan, compared with 38 percent who said it should be approved.


A Russian telecoms company is offering free phone calls to the White House for anyone who wants to rant at George Bush.

Excom in the west Russian city of Yekaterinburg said almost 1,000 people have taken advantage of the offer.

Calls have ranged from two to 20 minutes and the tempers of some people have boiled over.

Phone operator Irina Natakhina said: "Mostly men call almost every 10 minutes and demand to be put through to the White House. When they have to wait they even begin swearing at me."

Excom general director Konstantin Ivanov found the number on the internet and said the offer will continue indefinitely.

The "Rally for America" photo shown here is cropped. In the print edition of today's New York Times it includes, at left, a woman holding a sign that reads "PROTESTER = TERRORIST." No one confronts her; no one seems put off by her presence; no one seems worried that her equation of dissent with political murder is un-American.

Self-righteous right-wingers picked apart the little-read position papers of A.N.S.W.E.R and condemned anti-war protesters for attending A.N.S.W.E.R.-organized rallies. These self-righteous people need to explain why their side tolerates haters of the fundamental values of America.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

This is what whoop-ass looks like.

(Not for the squeamish, as those of you who've already seen the picture know.)
Middle East fundamentalists are really, really bad:

Perhaps the sharpest debate is over the role of Islamic law in the [forthcoming Afghanistan] constitution. All agree that Islam should form the basis for Afghanistan's legal system, but dispute how rigid a standard it will provide....

Fazul Ahmed Shirinagna Manawi, a deputy chief justice, said that those who proposed only 20 percent Islamic law "do not have any understanding of Islam." He warned Westernized Afghans, who he said were a "little estranged" from Afghan society, that "what they propose should not oppose the basics of our culture, or the holy affairs of Islam."

--Amy Waldman in the 3/30/03 New York Times

U.S. fundamentalists, on the other hand, are great patriots, despite suffering the contempt of effete America-haters who write for The New York Times:

Rod Dreher, a senior writer at National Review, says that clergymen who oppose the war are spiritually disarming us and that military chaplains supporting the war should be heeded, not ''bishops in well-appointed chanceries and pastors sitting in suburban middle-class comfort.'' Dreher, a Catholic convert, must think the pope is one of those cushy bishops, as opposed to the hard-bitten military chaplains who know what God and the devil are up to. We should learn from the ''moral realism'' of soldier-priests, who are ''warriors for justice,'' and not heed ''the effete sentimentality you find among so many clergymen today.'' The priests who do not bow to the War God are, in a chaplain's words that Dreher quotes with approval, reinforcers of the notion that ''religion is for wimps, for prissy-pants, for frilly-suited morons.'' This is what used to be called ''muscular Christianity,'' and Dreher thinks it is the only authentic form of his faith.

--Garry Wills in The New York Times Magazine, 3/30/03

Hey, good thing it's so easy to tell them apart, huh?

...65 percent of the public favors the Senate-passed plan to reduce Bush's $726 billion tax cut by more than half in order to pay for the war, shore up Social Security and reduce the deficit - a view shared equally by Republicans as well as by Democrats and political independents.

Nearly three in 10 would eliminate the tax cut entirely, the poll found.

Most Americans also want the United Nations to play a leading role in postwar Iraq. By nearly 2 to 1, the public believes that the United Nations and not the United States should have primary responsibility for rebuilding Iraq and help setting up a new Iraqi government, a move opposed by the Bush administration but supported by six in 10 Democrats, independents and members of the president's own Republican Party...

--Washington Post

A small ray of hope.

You know who doesn't "support our troops"?

Donald Rumsfeld.

Isn't failing to "support our troops" literally what Donald Rumsfeld did in the planning of this war?

Current and former U.S. military officers are blaming Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his aides for the inadequate troop strength on the ground in Iraq, saying the civilian leaders "micromanaged" the deployment plan out of mistrust of the generals and an attempt to prove their own theory that a light, maneuverable force could handily defeat Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

More than a dozen officers interviewed, including a senior officer in Iraq, said Rumsfeld took significant risks by leaving key units in the United States and Germany at the start of the war. That resulted in an invasion force that is too small, strung out, underprotected, undersupplied and awaiting tens of thousands of reinforcements who will not get there for weeks.
(Washington Post)

You want to get all self-righteous and denounce someone while waving a "Support Our Troops" sign? Wave it at that sonofabitch.
How bad are things in the war? A former intelligence official quoted by Seymour Hersh in an article in the next issue of The New Yorker doesn't sound cheery, according to this Reuters story:

Hersh, however, quoted the former intelligence official as saying the war was now a stalemate.

Much of the supply of Tomahawk cruise missiles has been expended, aircraft carriers were going to run out of precision guided bombs and there were serious maintenance problems with tanks, armored vehicles and other equipment, the article said.

"The only hope is that they can hold out until reinforcements arrive," the former official said.


The official blames Rumsfeld's "underwhelming force" war plan. (At this point, who doesn't?)

I may not have the wording exactly right, but here's a headline I saw within the past hour on the Headline News crawl:

Pentagon on finding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction: "It will take time."

Oh, really?

You bastards. We said precisely that before the war -- and the Boy King sneered, and his minions sneered, and Dennis "21st-Century Georgie Jessel" Miller sneered, calling Blix "Inspector Clouseau." Well, thanks a bit fat frigging lot for admittting in the most backhanded way possible that we were right all along -- that finding outlawed weapons takes time.

Saturday, March 29, 2003


Among supporters of the war in Iraq I doubt there's a single one who's 'pro-war.' No one wants war, no one likes war....

--right-wing academic David Gelertner at a Yale pro-war rally, 3/26/03

American pilots who bombed Baghdad on Friday spoke of the thrill of a successful attack in the teeth of fierce anti-aircraft fire.

"It was exhilarating," Commander Jeff Penfield said after landing his F/A-18E Super Hornet back on the Abraham Lincoln, which is supporting the U.S.-led invasion force from the Gulf.

"It was all nice and calm in the city," he said. "Once those bombs hit all hell broke loose. I bet we saw 15 SAMs (surface-to-air missiles), about three or four up our way so we had to defend a couple of times.

"What I felt more than anything was exhilaration."...

--Reuters, 3/28/03

Oh, lovely -- we're nickel-and-diming the Centers for Disease Control:

Bush's proposed budget would give the CDC $6.5 billion is about $700 million less than what Congress actually approved, and Bush signed into law, for the current year.

Some of the proposed cuts are sizable. Next year's budget calls for a 26 percent cut for improvements at local public health centers. It also would cut funding for environmental health programs by 18 percent and reduce money for occupational safety and health by 10 percent....

William Gimson, the CDC's chief operating officer, said the agency's plans for administrative savings do not include employee layoffs, although it may not fill some positions after people leave them. Gerberding said the agency could also save money by reducing some of its internal technology costs.

"The intent is that scientific program areas would not be affected," Gimson said.

--Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Got SARS? Have a tax cut!

Friday, March 28, 2003

We've heard a lot of high-minded speeches about the moral purpose of this war and read a lot of high-minded words. Oliver Willis finds that one pro-war blogger is not with the program.

Kill them, kill them all.

Just fucking carpet bomb the whole miserable fucking country now. The Iraqis have shown by their actions that they are just as evil as their leader and they are guilty either by action or inaction of maintaining the regime. They are all guilty. They have no claim on our pity on our help on our blood or our mercy.

We didn't come here to free the Iraqi people, if they want to be free let them fucking earn for themselves like the rest of us did. We all live in countries where every town small and large has a monument in it to our fallen who bought and kept our freedom for us. The Iraqis have statues of a maniac. There's no free ride in this world....

There's more at the link, if you're a glutton for punishment.
Among supporters of the war in Iraq I doubt there's a single one who's 'pro-war.' No one wants war, no one likes war....

--right-wing academic David Gelertner at a Yale pro-war rally, 3/26/03


We're about to open a can of high-grade whoop ass! I vote for one MOAB on each of his palaces. :)


Tune in ppl..... It's on.. it is SO on!





I see an awful lot of fire and explosions ... muahahaahha!!! ;)


I'm going through overload right now. Got two TVs going (Fox/NBC) now I'm diggin Reuters.

I'm at work so I have to watch Reuters with the sound off. Oh, how I wish I could hear those explosions ...


A girl can dream, can't she?

Those are some satisfying mushroom clouds over what was once Saddam's palace...



Tremendous ass whoopage. Tremendous ass whoopage, indeed.


The News would be much cooler if they played Pantera music while shits blowing up.

--comments at the blog Right-Thinking from the Left Coast, 3/21/03, as "Shock and Awe" began

In the days after a crippling strike by opponents of President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, the government there has struck back with a wave of violence and intimidation that has brought condemnation from governments and human rights groups around the world.

Human rights workers and diplomats say that with the world's attention focused on war in Iraq, Mr. Mugabe has unleashed Zimbabwe's armed forces and militia against his own people, even as the country prepares for two important parliamentary elections on Sunday.

Internet reports from Harare describe hospital wards full of people suffering from severe burns and broken fingers and toes. Photographs show men and women with swollen lash marks across their backs and chests. Opposition leaders report that more than 1,000 people have fled their homes and that more than 500 people have been arrested....

--New York Times
Then there is French's Mustard. A news release this week proclaimed, "The only thing French about French's Mustard is the name! Robert T. French's All-American Dream Lives On." The release waved the United States flag as vigorously as it could, proclaiming that since 1915 French's pennant emblem has symbolized "French's affiliation with baseball and American celebration."

The news release said French's was produced by "New Jersey-based Reckitt Benckiser Inc."...

The news release also praised French's "Napa Valley style Dijon" mustard. On French's Web site, that mustard is just called Dijon. The name was changed last year, Ms. Small said, but the company has not gotten around to updating the Web site.

--Floyd Norris in today's New York Times

I don't think this will work -- the freedom-fry-eating yahoos think everyone in Napa Valley's a pinko peacenik.

1979 (The Remix)?

Demonstrators pelted the British Embassy in Tehran with stones, breaking windows and shouting "the British Embassy must be closed!" Police fired into the air to disperse the crowd, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported....

The cleric who delivered the Friday prayers sermon that was broadcast on Iranian television, Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, said: "Will bombs and the use of force bring democracy and freedom? It definitely will not."

The worshippers responded with shouts of "Death to America!" and "Death to Britain!"

This blog post from Joshua Micah Marshall is a bit more rambling than usual, but read it to the end for a jaw-dropping list of ugly-American blunders we're already making in Iraq. I weep for my country.

And if you haven't read Marshall's "Practice to Deceive," read it. Here's the neocon hawks' plan for a U.S. boot in the Arab/Muslim face, forever.
Saddam look becomes fashionable in India

A new craze for sporting Saddam Hussein's hairstyle has been reported by barbers in northern India.

Youngsters in Jalandhar, a city with a fashion-conscious reputation, are asking hairdressers to make their moustaches and hair like that of the Iraqi dictator....


Hey, we're doing really, really well at this hearts-and-minds thing, aren't we?

Here's an interesting story from yesterday's New York Times -- nationwide polls say that opposition to the war is far greater among blacks than among whites, and the Times found deep skepticism about the war in interviews with blacks in New York City.

For years right-wingers have sneeringly said that blacks are stuck on the "Democratic plantation." But if that's the case, how does it jibe with the fact that New York's top Democrats, Senators Schumer and Clinton, support the war?

The blacks quoted in the Times article simply don't trust Bush -- for all the right reasons:

"You got a president who stole his way into the place, who went into it with this on his mind," said Willie Roper, 65, at the Bay View Houses public housing project in Canarsie, Brooklyn, referring to Mr. Bush's election. "That's why we have this war."...

"Oh, they tried to kill my Daddy," Julias Dukes said in a mocking singsong. Mr. Dukes, a 47-year-old former marine who was sitting on a stoop along Lafayette Avenue in Fort Greene, added, "It's a personal thing."...

"You know who I see as a threat?" asked Bashir Sultan, 39, a former computer technician, finishing a slice of pizza in Harlem with a friend, Dolores Jackson. "I see North Korea. Or China. I don't see Saddam as a threat."

Pretty astute. Maybe there really is a racial "bell curve" -- maybe Charles Murray just had it upside down.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

What? There's torture in other countries besides Iraq? Rush never told me that!

Human rights groups have accused the Egyptian authorities of detaining hundreds of people in a brutal crackdown on people protesting the war in Iraq....

Human rights groups in Cairo and the United States, citing what they said were witness accounts and statements by detainees, said security forces had used electric shocks, sticks and belts to beat prisoners in police stations and in prisons....

--from today's New York Times

But hey -- it turnbs out that torture in Egyptian prisons builds character:

Many members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad fled to Afghanistan in the late 1990s....Foremost among them was Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, a surgeon who became Osama bin Laden's deputy.

Dr Zawahiri had been imprisoned and, according to friends, beaten frequently after the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981. The humiliations - including, reportedly, the betrayal under torture of a fellow Islamist - marked him for life.

He left prison with renewed commitment to the Islamist cause, and began making regular trips to Afghanistan to support the mojahedin fighting the Soviets.

Montasser al-Zayat, a lawyer who was imprisoned with Dr Zawahiri and wrote a damning biography of him, described how traumatic experiences during three years in prison transformed Dr Zawahiri from a relative moderate in the Islamist underground into a violent extremist.

Others also remarked on the change. Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a sociologist at the American University who met Dr Zawahiri after his release, told the New Yorker magazine recently: "Many who turn fanatic have suffered harsh treatment in prison. It makes them extremely suspicious."

It was Dr Zawahari who formally merged Islamic Jihad with al-Qaida in June 2001, providing Bin Laden's organisation with an influx of Egyptian recruits and reinforcing its hatred of secular, pro-western Arab governments. Of the nine-member leadership council, six were Egyptians.

Al-Qaida recognises the significance of torture. A handbook, Military Studies in the Jihad Against the Tyrants, seized by police in Manchester several years ago, was accepted as evidence in the New York trial of those who bombed America's east African embassies.

The manual lists gruesome tortures, and then notes: "Let no one think the techniques are fabrications of our imagination, or that we copied them from spy stories. These are factual incidents in the prisons of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and all other Arab countries."

--Guardian, 1/24/03

I understand that you might support the war if you sincerely believe that it will result in a net decrease in the suffering of innocent people. But if you believe that, and you also believe that many of Iraq's soldiers in effect have guns pointed at their heads and are fighting unwillingly, it seems to me that you have to include their deaths and injuries in the toll of suffering by the innocent. Obviously, in a war each side is going to try to kill or incapacitate as many soldiers on the other side as possible -- but if you're trying to do moral calculus about the rightness of this war for the U.S., your equation is incomplete unless you count among its victims the soldiers who might have lived through containment but will die or be injured in this war.
He's going to get his damn tax cut.

That's the conclusion of Liberal Oasis, and the logic is, alas, persuasive: First, the House-Senate conference committee will be packed with Bush loyalists. Then, as reported in yesterday's New York Times, two nonconservative but spineless Republican senators, Olympia Snowe and George Voinovich, say they'll vote for whatever comes out of this ideologue-packed conference.

Heedless of consequences overseas, heedless of consequences at home. That's our president.
It's not a quagmire, but it is a mess:

* Iraqi militias have U.S. led forces pinned down -- and Iraqis in the war zone hate us. ("'We live in fear at night,' said Om Talal, 40, her youngest child at her feet in the southern town of Al-Zubayr. 'Already two of our houses have been destroyed. Why must they fire on our houses and kill civilians?'")

* Iraqi opposition groups are planning a provisional government ("The opposition's apparent defiance of the United States illustrated the poor state of relations between them, despite the opposition's complete dependence on U.S. military might.")

* British soldiers are scavenging Iraqi soldiers' boots because the Brit boots are melting.
"Freedom toast" = French toast? On Air Force One, not exactly:

Air Force One is now French-free.

Before each flight, the stewards aboard the presidential airplane post a card, embossed with the presidential seal and bearing the menu for the meal they will be serving, in the plane's cabins.

Today, the breakfast entree was "freedom toast topped with strawberries," a concoction in which cream cheese is stuffed into what is known elsewhere as French toast.

--Los Angeles Times

French toast stuffed with cream cheese? Who's the chef on Air Force One -- Elvis?

(Link from The Rational Enquirer.)
Yesterday, a military blogger posted a photo of the coffins of six members of the Air Force who died trying to transport Afghani children to a U.S. hospital. The blogger wrote,

Six brave airmen died trying to make life better for children and their families who were brutalized under a tyrannical theocratic regime. Show me any other nation that does this as a matter of routine, 99% of the time without any press or media attention.

InstaPundit linked this and commented, with a sneer,

It ain't the French.

I guess something like this doesn’t count for InstaPundit:

July 6 [2002] [AP]: Two French peacekeepers were seriously injured when a mine exploded while they were trying to deactivate it. The two suffered injuries to their heads and hands and were evacuated to France a day later. The mine and ordinance clean-up operations near the Kabul airport has cleared more than 800 mines since April.

--Alex Vassar, “Current Casualties from the Operation Enduring Freedom,” 2002

And I guess this doesn't count as aid to people brutalized by tyrants:

French police serving as peacekeepers in Kosovo on Monday notified the families of 26 men missing from this town for five months that the men had been killed by Serbs and dumped in a mass grave and that four suspects have been arrested.

The case is the first time in Kosovo that foreigners have completed a war crimes investigation, working from the first reports of missing people to finding the graves and making arrests. Their speed demonstrates a greater commitment than was the case in the former Yugoslavia to catch those responsible for war crimes.

--St. Petersburg Times, 9/28/99

And I guess none of the following counts as evidence that dangerous peacekeeping and nation-building work is done regularly around the world by ordinary French service personnel:

Hundreds of U.S. Marines and French peacekeepers were killed in almost simultaneous terror truck bomb assaults on their headquarters in Beirut in 1983.

--National Review, 9/11/01

September 9, 1992... Heavy machine gun fire blasted a UN convoy arriving from Serbia late Tuesday, killing two French peacekeepers and wounding two others.

--testimony before the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, 1/25/93

The peace process in the Ivory Coast was in tatters yesterday after 30 rebel soldiers were killed and nine French peacekeepers wounded in the bloodiest clash of a four-month armed uprising.

--Daily Telegraph (U.K.), 1/8/03

And on the subject of hard, dangerous work being done “without any press or media attention”:

[Thomas] Friedman [of The New York Times] contrasts the very different responses of the French and the Americans to losses of recent years. The French press and public reacted rather calmly and matter-of-factly to the tragic loss of French peacekeepers to snipers in Bosnia; the story was buried in the back pages of the newspapers and did not create much of a political storm, thereby allowing that peacekeeping mission to continue. American experience has been quite different. Losses in Somalia and the celebration of the return of a downed American pilot after his escape from Bosnia highlight the different operating principles of the French and American publics, as well as of their presses and political establishments.

--Joel Rosenthal in Naval War College Review, 1997

In an e-mail, says its members have donated more than half a million dollars to Oxfam's Iraqi refugee campaign. Here's the MoveOn site's link to Oxfam's contributions page. All those right-wingers who think lefties "don't care about the people of Iraq" -- do you have a problem with this?

UPDATE: Media Whores Online also has an Oxfam link.
Soldiers of the Royal Irish Regiment found about a hundred chemical weapons protection suits and respirators in an Iraqi command post, said Adm. Michael Boyce, chief of the defense staff....

"We already know from Iraqi prisoners of war that protective equipment was issued to southern Iraqi divisions," Hoon added.

The discovery of the chemical suits was not conclusive evidence that Saddam Hussein planned to use such weapons, he said.

"But it is indicative of an intention, otherwise why equip his own forces to deal with a threat which he knows we do not have? So it must only be to protect his forces from his own use of those weapons which we know he has," Hoon said.


Uh, maybe Iraq is screwing with our heads?

I don't want to be naive. I think it's quite possible that Iraq has usable chemical and/or biological weapons, and that they may be used eventually in this war. I'm just wonder why this couldn't also just be psyops.
Bush's approval rating for handling the situation with Iraq has inched up to 71 percent — for the first time exceeding his overall job approval rating, 68 percent. Both, though, remain well below his father's ratings in the early days of the 1991 conflict.

--ABC News, reporting an ABC/Washington Post poll

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

There may be antiwar civil disobedience at Rockefeller Center tomorrow morning, as The Village Voice reports, but I'll be surprised if the demonstrators are even remotely as disruptive as the crowds at the annual Christmas tree lighting. I speak from experience: I worked in Rock Center for years, and leaving the office on tree-lighting day was as close as I think I'll ever get to experiencing the fall of Saigon (or at least that Great White show in Rhode Island).

Still, I feel a bit sorry for the people I know who are still working over there. I'm pleased that people are still demonstrating their outrage at the war, but I'm not a huge fan of street blockages -- they piss people off, they don't piss the right people off (the people who run everything are rarely inconvenienced), and, because they happen outside while all the work is done indoors, they don't exactly bring the wheels of The System to a halt (one ex-coworker who learned of the demo said she might get to work early to try to beat it -- if she does this, she's going to do more work tomorrow than she would have otherwise). And I don't like anything that gives the freedom-fries crowd a smug sense of moral superiority -- although anyone who claims that an act of civil disobedience in Midtown Manhattan held up an ambulance needs to know that no ambulance, or any vehicle other than a presidential motorcade, ever moves faster than a crawl in Midtown on a workday.

Sorry, I prefer huge legal demonstrations. Feel free to call me a wimp.
This is very nasty:

"Pictures of Liberated Iraqis Dancing in the Streets"

(Link courtesy of the Mahablog.)
If the White House wants to stop "frivolous lawsuits," it should start with this one:

Miami relatives of young Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez cannot sue former Attorney General Janet Reno and other federal officials for allegedly using excessive force when agents seized the boy from the family's home, an appellate court has ruled.

Yes, folks, the Miami relatives are still litigating this.

With the help, unsurprisingly, of the fine folks at Judicial Watch.

Does it get funnier than this?

And how 'bout this? Photo 1: Tom Daschle is short! Ha ha ha! Isn't that funny? Photos 2through 6: The Wizard of Oz! Get it? Get it? (Actually, I don't get it. Do you get it?)

These links are from -- where you can also find the Ari Fleischer fan club page that was recently cited in the U.K.'s Guardian and The Washington Post (as TBOGG notes).

Not amused? Guess you're just a traitor.

Worried about how things are going in Iraq?

Well, you should know that India and Pakistan just test-fired nuclear-capable missiles, while North Korea broke off long-standing regular talks with the U.N. Command in South Korea and is threatening to test-fire a long-range ballistic missile.

There. I bet you forgot all about Iraq, didn't you?
Hey, now we're threatening Canada...

The U.S. ambassador to Canada took the unusual step on Tuesday of openly criticizing Ottawa for not backing the war on Iraq and urged Prime Minister Jean Chretien to muzzle anti-U.S. sentiment in his government.

...What will have been most disconcerting for the audience was Cellucci's statement that the United States gave a higher priority to security than to the booming trade relationship between the two countries.

..."Security will trump trade, there is no doubt about that," Cellucci told reporters, saying there could be unspecified "short term" strains in the relationship given U.S. unhappiness with Canada.


I think these guys are just going to have to do a bumper sticker that says "First Iraq, Then Everyone Else on the Planet (Except Republicans and Tony Blair)."

All one need remember from their sorry show [the Oscars] is that there are 250,000 men and women volunteers who have offered to die for you and what you believe in. Susan Sarandon isn't one of them.

--from Lucianne Goldberg's today

Yeah, Lucianne, and funny thing -- your son isn't one of them either. Sure, he's in his thirties now, but that's not really too old to fight, is it? And where was he in '91, during Gulf War I, when he was of prime fighting age? Says here he was at Goucher College, sitting on his duff reading books like a damn peacenik.

Susan Sarandon? She's 56 years old. Pretty close to your age, Lucianne. So why aren't you ducking sandstorms now?
Royal Marines were deployed to Iraq's border with Iran yesterday in a move that will unnerve Teheran's regime, which fears encirclement by American-led forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Defence said the Royal Marines were merely "securing their area of operations" after seizing at the Faw peninsula....

Tensions were illustrated by a succession of border incidents. A rocket struck an Iranian oil refinery depot in Abadan, just across from Basra, on Friday injuring two people while there were reports on Monday that Iranian forces had fired on British troops on the Faw peninsula....

--Daily Telegraph (U.K.)

I'm starting to worry that "Iraq" is Arabic for "Cambodia."
More sniping at U.S. companies:

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned a boycott list of American firms that was making the rounds in Brazil. Now my Brazilian correspondent has written to point out that the boycott list is up on the Web. Here, from the site, is a list of U.S. companies to avoid and non-American alternatives.

I boycott you, you boycott me. One more little war in George Bush’s world of war.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Heh heh heh.

No more Coca-Cola or Budweiser, no Marlboro, no American whiskey or even American Express cards -- a growing number of restaurants in Germany are taking everything American off their menus to protest the war in Iraq.

Although the protests are mainly symbolic, waiters in dozens of bars and restaurants in Hamburg, Berlin, Munich, Bonn and other German cities are telling patrons, "Sorry, Coca-Cola is not available any more due to the current political situation."...

In Indonesia, Iraq war opponents have pasted signs on McDonald's and other American food outlets, trying to force them shut by "sealing them" and urging Indonesians to avoid them.

In the Swiss city of Basel, 50 students recently staged a sit-down strike in front of a McDonald's to block customers' entry, waved peace signs and urged people to eat pretzels instead of hamburgers.

Anti-American sentiment has even reached provinces in Russia, where some rural eateries put up signs telling Americans they were unwelcome, according to an Izvestia newspaper report.

A German bicycle manufacturer, Riese und Mueller GmbH, canceled all business deals with its American suppliers....

--ABC News

The article goes on to quote one German bartender who is no longer serving Budweiser. Left unexplained is how the hell anyone in Germany could stand to drink Budweiser in the first place.
This basically came true.

This is also basically true.

So I wonder how soon this will come true.

As Thomas McLaughlin tells it, the trouble began when his eighth-grade science teacher overheard him refusing to deny to another boy that he was gay. It got worse that afternoon, when his guidance counselor called his mother at work to tell her he was homosexual.

"The assistant principal called me out of seventh period, asked if my parents knew I was gay, and when I said no, she said I had till 3:40 to tell them or the school would," said Thomas, a 14-year old student at Jacksonville Junior High School in Arkansas.

"I was too upset to sit through eighth period, so I went to the guidance counselor, and she made the call. Later, the science teacher wrote me a four-page handwritten letter about the Bible's teachings on homosexuality, telling me I would be condemned to hell. I threw it out."

That was a more than a year ago.

Since then, the McLaughlin family says, the school has continued to harass Thomas because of his homosexuality. The teachers and administrators who outed Thomas last year now want to silence him, the McLaughlins say, by telling him not to discuss homosexuality in school and disciplining him for doing so. They also say that a different assistant principal called Thomas to his office this year and made him read aloud a Bible passage condemning homosexuality.

--New York Times

What??? You mean this happened even though the Christian-hating liberal thought police have silenced and intimidated all the people in America who have traditional values?
What a silly peacenik I am -- I thought civilian carnage was a bad thing. I didn't realize that I was supposed to be happy that Saddam's troops are firing on noncombatants in Basra.
Some more unintended consequences:

India on Tuesday countered the renewed call by the US for resumption of talks with Pakistan, asking why military action was resorted to against Iraq and Afghanistan instead of dialogue to resolve the crisis confronting the two countries. "If dialogue per se is more critical than combating international terrorism with all necessary means, then one can legitimately ask why both in Afghanistan and Iraq military action instead of dialogue has been resorted to," External Affairs Ministry spokesman told reporters....

--Express India

(India is responding to the massacre of 24 Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir, for which India blames Pakistan.)
On eBay, the highest bid wins -- unless the item on sale is a laser printer from CompAtlanta and the bidder happens to be Canadian.

That's what a tax consultant discovered last week when he tried to buy a printer on eBay, but was refused by the vendor when it was discovered he lived in Vancouver.

David Ingram received notification that his winning bid of $24.50 had been canceled, along with this message: "At the present time, we do not ship to, or accept bids from, Canada, Mexico, France, Germany or any other country that does not support the United States in our efforts to rid the world of Saddam Hussein. If you are not with us, you are against us."

Ingram's .ca address sparked the notice from CompAtlanta, based in Lawrenceville, Georgia....

--Wired News

Wow -- unable to buy from one guy selling on eBay! That ought to bring those damn surrender monkeys to their knees.
More unintended war consequences:

The Iraqi war has convinced the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership that some form of confrontation with the U.S. could come earlier than expected.

Beijing has also begun to fine-tune its domestic and security policies to counter the perceived threat of U.S. "neo-imperialism."

As more emphasis is being put on boosting national strength and cohesiveness, a big blow could be dealt to both economic and political reform....

As People's Daily commentator Huang Peizhao pointed out last Saturday, U.S. moves in the Middle East "have served the goal of seeking world-wide domination."

State Council think-tank member Tong Gang saw the conflict as the first salvo in Washington's bid to "build a new world order under U.S. domination." ...

"Now, many cadres and think-tank members think Beijing should adopt a more pro-active if not aggressive policy to thwart U.S. aggression," said a Chinese source close to the diplomatic establishment.

He added hard-line elements in the People's Liberation Army (PLA) had advocated providing weapons to North Korea to help Pyongyang defend itself against a possible U.S. missile strike at its nuclear facilities....

On the military front, the Iraqi conflict will kick start another season of accelerated modernization of weaponry....



(Thanks to Susan M. for the link.)
Kanan Makiya is giddy at the U.S. bombing (read the opening paragraphs of the link) but apprehensive about what the U.S. will do to Iraq after the war:

There is enough chatter out of Washington to make me apprehensive. Last Wednesday, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, Marc Grossman, managed to deliver a long briefing to foreign reporters on "Assisting Iraqis With Their Future, Planning For Democracy" without any specifics on the issue. While Grossman summarized U.S. plans and offered statistical details on economic reconstruction, dealing with weapons of mass destruction, humanitarian assistance, and the role of the United Nations in all these things, all he could say about the central political question was that the Bush administration "seek[s] an Iraq that is democratic." Unlike its experience in Afghanistan, the administration has had months, if not years, to think about what democracy in Iraq would look like. And yet when the journalists asked Grossman to elaborate on the subject, he could add almost nothing.

Why? Does the United States have any ideas on this pivotal subject? Will the administration push for those ideas in the establishment of the still-ambiguous Iraqi interim authority that Grossman mentioned in his briefing? And what is the role of the leadership of the Iraqi opposition elected in Salahuddin last month? These are the questions I am left here to argue about with American officials while the war's progress provides a more pleasant soundtrack.

Are all the soothing words being whispered in the ears of Makiya and other Iraqi dissidents just part of a big geopolitical con game? I guess we'll find out, won't we?
Dr. John Collins, a retired Army colonel and former chief researcher for the Library of Congress, said ... every military commander since Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese strategist, has hated urban warfare.

"Military casualties normally soar on both sides; innocent civilians lose lives and suffer severe privation; reconstruction costs skyrocket," Collins said...

--Philadelphia Inquirer

Skyrocketing reconstruction costs? You say that like it's a bad thing:

The first contracts for rebuilding post-war Iraq have been awarded, and Vice President Dick Cheney's old employer, Halliburton Co., says it is one of the early winners....


And please note the terms of these contracts:

Confidential contract documents indicate that companies will be paid under an arrangement known as "cost plus fixed fee." Once the cost of a project is established, the contractor is entitled to recover those costs plus a fee that is a fixed percentage of those costs. That percentage is generally 8 to 10 percent, although the security precautions required under the Iraq contracts might justify a higher fee in some cases, construction industry analysts said.

--from an article on Iraqi reconstruction in Sunday's New York Times

So the higher the cost, the larger the profit (the "plus") in raw dollars.

If you suspect that Donald Rumsfeld sent an inadequate force into Iraq, and would have sent an even smaller force if he'd completely had his way, remember: it could have been worse:

If a few hundred men and a few dozen planes could overthrow the Taliban, what might ten thousand men and a few hundred planes do in Iraq?

--David Frum, The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush, p. 195
ADD Lizzie Grubman to the list of Oscar boycotters. Grubman says she was supposed to go to the Academy Awards with her father, Allen Grubman, a prominent lawyer who reps many celebs, but decided against it. "We canceled because there's a war on," Grubman tells PAGE SIX. "The Oscars should have been canceled. There are prisoners of war and American soldiers are dying - to go out and party is disrepectful and not appropriate." Grubman says she didn't even bother to watch the show on TV.

--from the New York Post's gossip page

Or perhaps it's just that crossing state lines is a violation of Lizzie's parole.

(Thanks to Benjamin for the Post link and the punch line.)
Let me see if I understand this correctly:

In America we think Saddam Hussein is a potential Hitler; we think he was involved in the September 11 attacks; we think that if we hadn't attacked him he was planning any day to arm terrorists who would bring a nuclear, chemical, or biological 9/11 to U.S. soil; we think he was a threat to the entire civilized world -- but we're surprised that the war is going on longer than a Bruce Willis movie? We sold all our stocks yesterday because the war isn't over yet?

We really need to grow up.

I think Saddam's threat to the rest of the world has been drastically overestimated by a lot of people, starting with the president of the United States (at least in his public pronouncements) -- but this was never going to be a four-hour miniseries. If the war had ended last week with Saddam's head on a pike it would have been a shorter war than Panama, for chrissakes. (I'll admit I wished for an insta-war last week, but that was an atheist's version of a prayer for a miracle.) Even if you thought this damn thing could end in days, how could you be surprised when it didn't?

This is war. War is ugly and bloody. War creates long periods of suffering. Good people die or suffer gruesome injuries. Survivors have horrific memories and lingering hatreds. This is why we were against it, idiots.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Have you noticed? Class warfare is hip. Sneering at class warfare is so ten weeks ago:

The Democrats couldn't even persuade people to oppose the repeal of the estate tax, which is explicitly for the mega-upper class....Why don't more Americans want to distribute more wealth down to people like themselves?...

Income resentment is not a strong emotion in much of America.

....Many Americans admire the rich.

They don't see society as a conflict zone between the rich and poor. It's taboo to say in a democratic culture, but do you think a nation that watches Katie Couric in the morning, Tom Hanks in the evening and Michael Jordan on weekends harbors deep animosity toward the affluent?...

--right-wing pundit David Brooks in The New York Times, 1/12/03

After watching the actor Martin Sheen, star of "The West Wing," denounce an invasion of Iraq on television last December, Lori Bardsley, 38, a homemaker in Summerfield, N.C., started an online petition, Citizens Against Celebrity "Pundits" at The petition now has more than 100,000 signatures.

"That evening I was very angry and I knew I wasn't the only one in the country who would be," Ms. Bardsley said. "Many Americans have felt this for a long time."...

"Entertainers symbolize something about American life that many Americans resent," [author Neal Gabler] said. "They have so much money and they're so conspicuous about it. The idea is that all celebrities are spoiled and naïve and fundamentally not serious. They're dabblers."

Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, a conservative journal, echoed this view.

"Subliminally it bothers people that these are famous, rich, celebrated people who America has treated extremely well," he said.

--New York Times,

Things can go wrong very fast, even and perhaps especially for an over-reaching great power. Like the German planners of 1914, today's Washington strategists are obsessed with challenges, timetables, windows of opportunity—and the eschatological urge to tear down a frustrating international order and remake it in their image. They, too, have exaggerated the threats and underestimated the risks. That is as far as the analogy goes—Imperial Germany and Republican America have little else in common. But hubris is not a shortcoming peculiar to any one constitutional form; and the inability to envisage nemesis is modern America's distinctive failing.

--Tony Judt in the current New York Review of Books

For the first few days it seemed as if people weren’t paying much attention to the war. Now it’s a real story -- merciless bombing, the long march, terrified-looking POWs-- but I’m still not sure it’s more than just better-than-average reality TV for much of America.

At my office late Friday, we heard thunder and, being post-9/11 New Yorkers, we joked nervously about “Shock and Awe” arriving Stateside. Later, at an Italian restaurant, I heard tables of young men making what were meant to be Lettermanesque jokes using the war as a jumping-off point. That was war in NYC on Friday -- we were riffing on it.

Over the weekend I was in upstate New York, where I’ve spent a fair amount of time recently. I didn’t see what I expected to see there -- a lot of newly mounted flags. And I didn’t see a single ribbon around a tree. Last week a caller to an MTV show on the war said her town was full of yellow ribbons. The caller was in a military town -- but during Gulf War I, yellow ribbons were everywhere.

I guess we’re all paying attention now, but are we really emotionally invested? I think a lot of us aren’t. I think this is Bush’s war and Saddam’s war and Tony Blair’s war. It’s the troops’ war and the troops’ families’ war. It’s certainly the liberal-haters’ war. I don’t think the rest of the country’s war. It’s just the most interesting thing on.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

I won't be blogging for a couple of days -- not until Monday night or Tuesday, in all likelihood. Meanwhile, check out some of my links, if you don't already.
Civilians mostly unscathed from Shock and Awe, according to The Guardian? That would be good. Many government ministers also unscathed? Maybe not so good.

But Saddam is claiming civilian casualties, as the Voice of America reports.

And there's this from the Bush administration:

President Bush met with his war council Saturday and told Americans the only way to limit the length and scope of combat in Iraq was to use decisive force.

After U.S. and British aircraft unleashed the devastating firepower of missiles and bombs the Pentagon calls "shock and awe," Bush warned the Iraqi government, "This will not be a campaign of half measures."

Three days into war, Bush also cautioned against overconfidence given the apparent success of the mission and lack of serious resistance so far.

"A campaign on harsh terrain in a vast country could be longer and more difficult than some have predicted," Bush said in his weekly radio address broadcast from Camp David where he is spending the first weekend of the war.

.."Now that conflict has come, the only way to limit its duration is to apply decisive force," he said.

Translation: We are going to kill people. There is going to be collateral damage. This is going to get ugly.

Friday, March 21, 2003

First we bomb the crap out of a major city in order to kill one guy (and a couple of his friends and relatives) ... then we let the guy we're trying to kill escape unharmed?

American officials have told ABCNEWS that even with today's bombing, secret talks have continued behind the scenes about a Saddam Hussein surrender and exile to, among other places, the country of Mauritania in west Africa.

Secretary of State Colin Powell hinted at the possibility of ongoing talks, saying: "There are a number of channels open to Baghdad. There are a number of individuals in countries around the world who have been conveying the message to the Iraqi regime that it is now inevitable that there will be a change."

Oh, and here's the best part -- guess the nationality of the person doing the shuttle diplomacy to try to make this happen:

One of the back channels goes through France, according to American officials aware of the negotiations.

Since December, ABCNEWS has learned, an emissary from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been in the middle of the secret offer of exile. American officials say the French go-between, Pierre Delval, an expert on counterfeiting, has repeatedly traveled to Baghdad to persuade Saddam to accept exile in Mauritania.


I swear they do this just to piss us off:

Q ...have you heard [the president] talk about this other responsibility which may weigh on him heavily today, and that is for the death of innocents, for Iraqi moms and dads and children who may, despite our best efforts, be killed?

MR. FLEISCHER: ... I think the President worries about it from two points of view -- one, in terms of the present mission. This is why the President and the Department of Defense work so carefully, and we have such a modern military that is capable of engaging in precision strikes, so that the targets are indeed the military targets. As always in war, there is risk, there will be innocents who are lost. And the President deeply regrets that Saddam Hussein has put innocents in a place where their lives will be lost.

The other portion of what the President remembers when he thinks about the innocents are the 3,000 innocents who lost their lives on September 11th in the United States....

--Today's White House press briefing

Saddam = Osama. Again and again and again.

(Thanks to Susan M. for pointing this out.)
A lot of you have already seen this via Atrios, but for those who didn't...

Minutes before the speech [Wednesday night], an internal television monitor at the White House showed the President pumping his fist.

"Feels good," he said.

--Philadelphia Inquirer

Unbelievable. Just unbelievable.

After we finish bombing Iraq, Colin Powell's State Department has a plan to help win the hearts and minds of the populace in 22 Arab nations.

It plans to start publishing a lifestyle magazine for Arabs in the 18- to 35-year-old bracket that will showcase America - minus its politics and religion.

"Basically, it's a magazine that will reflect American lifestyle and culture," said Raphael Calis, project manager for the International Information Program at the State Department.

The name of the magazine is not yet finalized, but Janet Ottenberg and Richard Creighton - principals of Washington D.C.-based custom publisher The Magazine Group, which is handling the edit and design - said that the working title is simply "Hi."

"The idea came to us from our Arab staff," said Creighton. "The name's tested well; we should know for sure in the next two weeks."

--New York Post

"Hi." I guess "Convert or Die" didn't do very well in the focus groups.
Is it possible that the beginning of the war hasn't really been a cakewalk? The Daily Kos collects some news reports that poke holes in the conventional wisdom.
And please note: The violent demonstrations in Muslim nations I listed below took place before "shock and awe" began. And now it's begun.
The Arab street will erupt. ...This is often predicted but rarely happens.

--Fred Barnes, "The Peacenik Top 10: A Look at the Ten Most Popular Objections to War and Some Common-Sense Responses to Them," Weekly Standard, 3/6/03

Four people were shot dead and dozens more were injured Friday as police clashed with demonstrators trying to storm the U.S. Embassy in Yemen, witnesses told CNN, on a second day of worldwide protests against the war in Iraq....

Meanwhile in Cairo, Egypt, Muslims hurled rocks and furniture at riot police from the roof of the historic al-Azhar mosque after Friday prayers....

In Amman, Jordan, police used tear gas against more than 10,000 people demonstrating against the war in a rally led by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Thousands of Palestinians also demonstrated across the West Bank and Gaza in support of Iraq, waving Iraqi flags, holding pictures of Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat and calling on the Iraqi president to "burn Tel Aviv." ...

In Srinagar, the summer capital of India's northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, protesters shouted anti-U.S. slogans and pelted stones at passing cars. Police were forced to use batons and tear gas to disperse crowds.

Thousands of Muslims in eastern Malaysia burned American and British flags and effigies of the two countries' leaders.

In Bangladesh, thousands marched through the streets of Dhaka, shouting slogans like: "Bush is a war criminal."

In Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim nation, demonstrators threw eggs and vegetables at the British Embassy in the capital, Jakarta....

--CNN today

We're using napalm.

Hey, don't worry -- we're not using it in civilian areas, so it's OK. We just fried some Iraqi soldiers at Safwan Hill with it. And besides, we never signed on to the convention that restricts its use.

Marine Cobra helicopter gunships firing Hellfire missiles swept in low from the south. Then the marine howitzers, with a range of 30 kilometres, opened a sustained barrage over the next eight hours. They were supported by US Navy aircraft which dropped 40,000 pounds of explosives and napalm, a US officer told the Herald.

A legal expert at the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva said the use of napalm or fuel air bombs was not illegal "per se" because the US was not a signatory to the 1980 weapons convention which prohibits and restricts certain weapons. "But the US has to apply the basic principles of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and take all precautions to protect civilians. In the case of napalm and fuel air bombs, these are special precautions because these are area weapons, not specific weapons," said Dominique Loye, the committee's adviser on weapons and IHL.

--Sydney Morning Herald; link from BuzzFlash
Cursor links to a good LA Weekly article (by John R. McArthur of Harper's) about propaganda in the run-up to war. The point of the article is that governments lie to you when they want war -- but what's I find interesting is the nature of the propaganda McArthur describes. Nearly all of it has been about scary things, rather than the suffering of flesh-and-blood human beings as a result of scary things. Yes, we heard one (factually accurate) paragraph about torture in Iraq in the State of the Union address, and we've heard "he gassed his own people" over and over. But the bulk of the propaganda has been about aluminum tubes, airborne drones, and warheads that can be fitted with chemical weapons. We heard a lot more about "weapons of mass destruction" than we did about actual destruction (in, say, Halabja). The current Bushies never got us to the tie-a-yellow-ribbon level of fervor for war we reached in January '91. Were they just too cold-blooded and impersonal to manage this?
Last night at one point I switched to MTV. I'm always amused by MTV's attempts at earnestness in times like these -- you know, éminence grise Kurt Loder attempting to rearrange his features in a look of concern for our youth, even though his facial muscles probably contain more botulinum toxin than can be found in Saddam Hussein's bioweapons stockpiles.

What I saw on MTV was a series of interviews of young people in and around Grand Central Station. They were asked about the war -- and they weren't rah-rah or outraged. They mostly didn't give a damn one way or the other.

I don't know how typical these kids are. But if they're at all representative of America, or at least of their generation, then George W. Bush has really accomplished something: on a psychological level, he has partially privatized this war. What I mean is that by failing to rally us around a principle, or around a compelling rationale, he's made the war something many people might not even care about if they don't have a direct stake in it. (On MTV, the interview segment was followed by two young callers from military towns who were, understandably, very focused on the war.)

So maybe there are people directly or indirectly involved; people like me who aren't involved but have strong opinions pro or con -- and then everyone else, for many of whom this war is as meaningless as the price of pork-belly futures is to people who go to a check-cashing store to cash their paychecks. Maybe young people have figured out that we just do this every few years, and when it's over there's still evil and slaughter and brutality in the world, much of it in places the U.S. will never invade.


Here's Digby, from Wednesday night:

The war show is, so far, very disappointing. When Bernie and Peter were hiding under their beds back in '91 at the Baghdad Hilton, and a handsome gas masked Bibi spoke calmly from Tel Aviv in his mellifluous American accent, it was new and exciting. The Patriot missiles were faster than a speeding scud and could pluck that baby right out of the sky. Cool fireworks. (Of course, we later found out they couldn't hit water if they were pushed over the side of a boat.)

Still, it all was new and so post-pac man. I'm not seeing it now, no matter how they rhapsodise about the technology. I wonder if people are still watching. Especially since there's nothing to watch. We just turned on "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

He was being somewhat sarcastic -- he went on to point out that, oh, by the way, innocent people will be soon be dying in Baghdad. But I think he captured some of the sense of ennui that's out there as we pursue Bush War IV.
I'm not a big admirer of NPR theme music, but was it absolutely necessary to rearrange the Morning Edition theme in that phony-somber Aaron-Copland-goes-to-war style that's used by every TV network for its war theme music, with its cliché for-whom-the-bell-tolls chime undertones?

Thursday, March 20, 2003

I didn’t hear anyone talking about the war at the office today. One reason may be the war’s muted start, but another reason, I think, is that we’ve been through this so many times before. We’ve had one or the other George Bush as president for a little more than six years, and this is already our fourth war. And they’re all the same, aren’t they? They’re all quick routs that seem to change absolutely nothing in our lives. Even the last war, the one that avenged 9/11 and actually did a fair amount of harm to some of the perpetrators, didn’t make us feel safer from terrorism. Four wars, three antichrists -- and so far all three of those antichrists are still alive: Noriega, Saddam, and Osama.

It’s almost certain that George W. will be president for six more years. Do we have four more of these damn things to look forward to?
Environmental experts warned this week that war in Iraq will cause "massive and possibly irreversible" damage to the Persian Gulf region and significantly add to global warming. The environmental leaders said the ensuing damage to Iraq's ecosystem and food and water supplies may eclipse the destruction during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

"I think it will be comprehensive damage, and I don't think it will be localized to the area of Iraq, regardless of how precise and surgical our bombing campaign will be," said Ross Mirkarimi, a San Francisco-based environmental analyst who made two trips to Iraq shortly after U.S.-led forces drove the Iraqis from Kuwait.

--Washington Post

Oh, and putting out burning oil fields is not particularly easy:

Most of the teams [that fought oil fires in Kuwait after the first Gulf War] used seawater pumped through Kuwait’s empty oil pipelines to battle the fires....

It took Kuwait more than two years and $50 billion to restore its oil output to prewar levels. If Iraq sabotaged its oil fields, any cleanup could take far longer and cost much more.
Iraq’s fields and pipelines are badly run down after 12 years of U.N. economic sanctions. Its fields are also much farther from the sea than those in Kuwait, meaning a ready source of water might not be so easily available.

Destruction could be especially bad if Iraqis set off explosives underground, deep within the well shafts themselves. If that happened, firefighters would have to drill a new “relief well” and pump a mixture of sand, gel and mud into each damaged shaft to try to plug it up and stop the blowout.

“It’s a long, arduous process,” Badick said. Whereas he and his crews put out as many as five fires a day in Kuwait, cleaning up after a single underground explosion can take two months.

--NBC News
More subtle wit from the right.
When I heard President George Bush deliver his ultimatum to Saddam Hussein on Monday, I could not help but puzzle over one crucial omission: the word "democracy." Why, I kept on asking myself, did he choose not to use it?

Please don't snicker. That's Kanan Makiya, the Iraqi dissident, writing in his new war diary at The New Republic Online.

Makiya felt betrayed by the U.S. a month ago; Bush administration officials have now made him many promises and he’s guardedly optimistic. His optimism seems premised on the notion that administration officials are men of their word.

I have to remember to read Makiya's diary. I suspect it will be a diary of disillusionment with the Bush administration.

Uh-oh ... last night, the only picture in the "War with Iraq" box on the Yahoo title screen was of President Bush. Now there are pictures of Bush and Saddam. DISLOYALTY! DISLOYALTY! OBJECTIVELY PRO-SADDAM!
Top White House anti-terror boss resigns

The top National Security Council official in the war on terror resigned this week for what a NSC spokesman said were personal reasons, but intelligence sources say the move reflects concern that the looming war with Iraq is hurting the fight against terrorism.

Rand Beers would not comment for this article, but he and several sources close to him are emphatic that the resignation was not a protest against an invasion of Iraq. But the same sources, and other current and former intelligence officials, described a broad consensus in the anti-terrorism and intelligence community that an invasion of Iraq would divert critical resources from the war on terror.

Beers has served as the NSC's senior director for counter-terrorism only since August. The White House said Wednesday that he officially remains on the job and has yet to set a departure date.

"Hardly a surprise," said one former intelligence official. "We have sacrificed a war on terror for a war with Iraq. I don't blame Randy at all. This just reflects the widespread thought that the war on terror is being set aside for the war with Iraq at the expense of our military and intel resources and the relationships with our allies."...

The article goes on to quote James Bamford, author of two books about the National Security agency, The Puzzle Palace and Body of Secrets:

"This is a very intriguing decision (by Beers). There is a predominant belief in the intelligence community that an invasion of Iraq will cause more terrorism than it will prevent. There is also a tremendous amount of embarrassment by intelligence professionals that there have been so many lies out of the administration -- by the president, (Vice President Dick) Cheney and (Secretary of State Colin) Powell -- over Iraq."

And there's this:

"If it was your job to prevent terror attacks, would you be happy about an action that many see as unnecessary, that is almost guaranteed to cause more terror in the short-term?" said one official. "I know I'm not (happy)."
“When I take action,” he said, “I’m not going to fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt.”

--President George W. Bush in September 2001, quoted by Howard Fineman in Newsweek

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Words I'm already sick of, even though the war is only about an hour old:

* Target of opportunity

* Actionable

I'm sure this list will lengthen as the war progresses, unless I pull an Elvis and shoot my TV.
Now that this war is actually going to happen, I want the U.S. to win in a rout.

I don’t care if I look foolish for having predicted dire consequences. I want minimal casualties -- and minimal glory. On the radio this morning, someone said this war might look the Panama invasion. That’s not insubstantial enough. I want Grenada.

I want unharmed Iraqi civilians to cheer unharmed American troops almost immediately. I want this war to be so brief, so painless and bloodless, that it’s a dim memory by Memorial Day.

If that happens, this war will never really become part of our national myth. That’s good, because war has sex appeal for far too many people.

And if it happens, war will have been a prologue -- and nation-building will be the main act. I don’t believe the aftermath of this war will in any way live up to its promise, as articulated by Bush and his subordinates -- but as long as that aftermath, Iraq as America’s 51st state, is inevitable, it would be good to get to it now.

I hope we have as little as possible of Warlord Bush, so we can soon see the real Bush again, the one who’s never done anything successfully in his adult life.

And then I hope we do to him what we did to his father.
Here's more ham-fisted, humorless conservative "wit." (And it's got the InstaPundit Seal of Approval!)

Here's the president's three-paragraph letter, from

He invokes the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243), then goes on to say,

acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

In other words, Iraq = 9/11. More and more, I suspect that belief in that fairy tale is the principal reason Bush has been craving war.

I keep going back to something in Peggy Noonan's January 27 column:

Four months ago a friend who had recently met with the president on other business reported to me that in conversation the president had said that he has been having some trouble sleeping, and that when he awakes in the morning the first thing he often thinks is: I wonder if this is the day Saddam will do it.

"Do what exactly?" I asked my friend. He told me he understood the president to be saying that he wonders if this will be the day Saddam launches a terror attack here, on American soil.

When I wrote about the column in January, I speculated that Bush might have this fear because people have been whispering "Saddam = Osama" in his ear. Well, maybe. But now I wonder if this is a case of a fervent Christian expressing his belief that there are many important forces in life for which there's little or no earthly empirical evidence. If that's what's going on, the lack of empirical evidence linking Saddam and al-Qaeda may mean as little to Bush as the lack of empirical evidence that Christ rose from the dead on the third day.

And of course, there are no shades of gray in Bush's world. Evil = evil.

Bush met with his war council and the White House sent Congress formal notification of justification for war. The three-paragraph document says diplomacy has failed to protect America's security, and it links Saddam's regime with the al-Qaida network, implicated in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

--Washington Post

Unbelievable -- the SOBs can't produce three paragraphs of copy without throwing in the Saddam/al-Qaeda fairy tale.
Radio airplay for the Dixie Chicks declined 20% just after one of the Chicks made anti-Bush remarks, but apparently the backlash is abating, although the Chicks have been dropped from the playlists of a number of stations owned by Clear Channel, which has sponsored many flag-waving rallies across the country.

And meanwhile, for the people at the gossip column of Rupert Murdoch's New York Post, the Dixie Chicks are just the tip of the boycott iceberg; the Posties, of course, are acting in the proud tradition of the gossip columnists who helped drive Charlie Chaplin out of America.

I'm sorry if I seem fixated on the Dixie Chicks. I'm not a fan of their music. The point is that Natalie Maines wasn't disclosing military secrets to Saddam's forces -- she doesn't like Bush, and that's not treason.

There are now a good number of entertainers who support Bush and the war. I don't want those people boycotted. I'm not a fan of Charlie Daniels, who regularly uses his Web site to denounce people like me and just about everything we stand for, but if I had tickets to see Bob Dylan and I learned that Charlie Daniels would show up to play fiddle, as he did for Bob thirty years ago, I would still go, gladly. I used to find Dennis Miller funny, and I may find him funny again, even though I'm tired of his current neocon schtick. Boycotting him seems pointless. I believe in boycotting people whose message runs consistently to hate -- people who wish all gay people dead or who regularly describe this or that ethnic group as less than human. But this is different.
"At last -- a conservative alternative to Ben & Jerry's": Star Spangled Ice Cream!

Flavors include I Hate the French Vanilla, Nutty Environmentalist, and Iraqi Road. More flavors listed here.

I have two words for these people: Billy Beer.

Oh, and remind me again: Which Ben & Jerry's flavors have overtly political names? Because I can't think of any.

(Thanks again to Dreamweasel for the link.)
This is supposed to reassure you:

In a lengthy interview with the Voice last week, a high-ranking Defense Department political official did concede that preparation for Iraq after a war is seriously lacking. "The planning should have started much sooner," the official said. "That's hard to deny." But, the official added by way of spin, that's really nothing to be concerned about, because compared to Afghanistan, Iraq is really much easier to handle, and won't require a protracted military presence, in keeping with Donald Rumsfeld's view that the military should not be a tool for "nation building."

"It's not like there's a bunch of roving warlords and ethnic or religious differences on the same scale as Afghanistan," the official contended.

That's from a good story by Jason Vest in this week's Village Voice about the U.S. government's inadequate postwar plans. I'm sure the lack of religious differences in Iraq will be news to the ruling Sunnis, southern Shi'ites, and non-Arab Kurds in the north.

Citing an Army War College paper on reconstruction, Vest writes:

While the administration has often tried to describe a post-Saddam Iraq as something akin to post-war Germany and Japan, the paper notes that an entire army staff was dedicated to planning for post-war occupation two years before the end of World War II. In the case of Iraq, similar foresight has not been exercised.

Ah, but back then the U.S. government was run by adults.

Electronic bugging devices have been found at offices used by French and German delegations at a European Union building in Brussels, officials have confirmed.

Devices were also discovered at offices used by other delegations, said EU spokesman Dominique-Georges Marro....

The discovery of the telephone tapping systems was first reported on Wednesday by France's Le Figaro newspaper, which blamed the US.

But Mr Marro said it was "impossible at this stage" to determine who had planted the devices....


I'm starting to suspect that you're allowed to violate the coat-and-tie dress code at the Bush White House if you show up wearing one of these T-shirts.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Most worrying of all is the fact that the Democrats have scheduled the South Carolina primary immediately after Iowa and New Hampshire. At least 40 percent of South Carolina's Democratic primary voters are black. All the ingredients are therefore there for an early Sharpton break-out....

--Andrew Sullivan, Sunday Times (London), 2/24/03

Latest presidential preference poll of South Carolina Democrats (Zogby poll, 3/4 - 3/6):

Lieberman 12%

Gephardt 10%

Edwards 6%

Kerry 5%

Sharpton 4%

Undecided 46%

(Results courtesy Daily Kos.)

What? Could it possibly be that blacks aren't pod people mindlessly programmed to follow the dictates of their own pigmentation? Could it possibly be that blacks are pretty much like whites, and therefore a lot of them haven't made up their minds about their favorite candidate for '04?

These people may be pulling our leg -- but it doesn't look that way....

Give the Statue of Liberty back to the French!

Located in New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty was a gift of international friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States and is one of the most universal symbols of political freedom and democracy...

Now it is time to give it back!

They can have their damn Statue!

(Thanks -- if that's the right word -- to Phil F. for the link.)

From President Bush's speech last night:

...some permanent members of the Security Council have publicly announced they will veto any resolution that compels the disarmament of Iraq. These governments share our assessment of the danger, but not our resolve to meet it. Many nations, however, do have the resolve and fortitude to act against this threat to peace....

From AP today:

"We now have a coalition of the willing that includes some 30 nations who publicly said they could be included in such a listing," Powell said, "and there are 15 other nations, for one reason or another, who do not wish to be publicly named but will be supporting the coalition." ...

The State Department released the list of 30 countries, one of which, Japan, was identified as only a post-conflict member of the coalition.

Spokesman Richard Boucher said some of them "may put troops on the ground," while others would take on other roles, such as assisting in a defense against the use of chemical or biological weapons or permitting allied combat planes to fly over their territory....

No Arab country was listed by the State Department. But Boucher declined to say none supported the United States against Iraq....

Turkey was included on the list, and Powell said even as the Turkish parliament debates a U.S. proposal to use Turkish territory for an invasion of northern Iraq he was confident of Turkish cooperation in one form or another....

I guess it all depends on what the definition of "resolve and fortitude" is.

(Oh, here's the dream team: "part of the coalition" -- Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hungary, Italy and Japan, which isisted as "post-conflict"; "others" -- South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Uzbekistan.)
NOT IN OUR NAME (local edition)

The city [of New York] says Amadou Diallo "caused or contributed" to his own death by refusing to obey police commands, assuming "a combat position" and brandishing what appeared to be a gun.

In legal papers filed in response to an $81 million negligence suit brought by Diallo's parents, the city maintains there was "a legal basis" for police to use deadly force in the 1999 Bronx shooting of the unarmed African immigrant.

The wording of the document was criticized yesterday by lawyer Anthony Gair, who is representing Diallo's parents.

"This is very offensive to the family," Gair said. "One would think that at this late date [the city] would finally publicly say: 'Yes, we were responsible. Yes, we had inadequately trained officers on the street.'"...

--Daily News

I know this is just the city staking out a contrary position in an adversarial proceeding. I know this is how civil suits work. Still, it's offensive. It opens racial wounds that have been healing.