March 22, 2003

It's pretty typical for bloggers to take weekend breaks, but I have to admit everytime there is a time gap between posts on Where's Raed?, I am going to be concerned. His last post from Baghdad was close to a day and a half ago, just before the "Shock and Awe" campaign started.
UPDATE: He returned to the b-sphere Monday, after his internet connection had been cut off. Check his site out, and check out The Agonist, which is the best up-to-the-minute source of news on the war anywhere in Christendom.

March 21, 2003

By now, I'm sure many of you have heard that before the President went on the air Wednesday night to announce the onset of hostilities, he pumped his fist and said, "Feels good," before the cameras went on. As much as I have criticized W in the past, I think I'm going to let him off the hook on that one. A speech, particularly an Oval Office speech announcing that the nation is at war, is a high-charged, adrenaline-pumping event. If you're going to do it well, you have to get pumped up beforehand; every actor, football player, and rock star goes through the same process. Oratory is a form of acting, and being able to convince an audience of the truth of what you are saying, and to make them act upon that truth, requires the speaker to get into character. Bush's pre-speech quip is no different than Kevin Spacey shouting "let's kick some ass" before going on stage. [link via CalPundit]
The Lord Haw-Haw of the blogosphere is in fine form, proudly claiming that anyone who opposes the war is in league with the forces of evil.
My latest hangout is a bar about a half-mile from where I live, the Sherman Oaks Lounge. It's one of the best live-music lounges in LA, plus it has enough TV's to show the full NCAA Tournament, including a high-definition set. The beers on tap are extraordinary; all micro-brew or high-end import; it's not a place to go if you just want to suck down a Bud. After a night of hoops (no Laker game, unfortunately), they had all-acoustic bands, highlighted by the incredible Annette Summersett, perhaps the closest thing to Patsy Cline Faith Hill I will hear in my lifetime. She's pretty, too.

March 20, 2003

"From now on it will be tanks and missiles, but the blogs will be right behind." I've been visiting several of the other blogs on my permalink list, and as you might expect, they are mainly posting about the "war", and what sick and twisted fucks the French are for not being willing to appease George Bush, and that the Saddam tape last night was probably a fake, etc. What I said yesterday about how most of the media coverage of what's going on should be disregarded in the early days, since most of the journalists covering the war are basically getting our propaganda, and the "experts" they are relying on tend to worship at the Church of Moron. That goes doubly true for anything you might read in a blog. If there's anything less trustworthy than the spin you get from a war reporter at this stage of the hostilities, its the second-hand excretions that are coming from the blogosphere.
Well, unless the Homeland is hit, I've said all I'm going to say about the war. Go CAL !!
UPDATE: Well, there are warbloggers, and then there are bloggers who actually have a take on the war that's worth reading. Check out Where's Raed?, by a blogger who actually lives in Baghdad, and Kevin Sites, a CNN correspondent in Northern Iraq who has a personal blog.

March 19, 2003

D-Hour has passed, and our country is about to go to war. Here are a dozen things we need to keep in mind:
1. Saddam Hussein is bad, and he has bad intentions;
2. Iraq has not attacked us, and is not presently attacking its neighbors;
3. Iraq has not been shown to be involved with the attack on September 11;
4. For the first time in our history, we are attacking a nation that is not engaged in hostilities with us or its neighbors; in fact, we are not even claiming a pretext that they are, as we did with Mexico and Spain in the nineteenth century;
5. There has been no failure in the inspection regime under Resolution 1441 to require that we go to war this instant;
6. The U.S. withheld evidence from the inspectors that might have made discovery of WMD’s possible, but didn’t provide it so as to not minimize the case for going to war;
7. The difference between the relative strength of the US and Iraqi armies is enormous; we are literally going to be tearing the wings off of a fly;
8. Many thousands of civilians will be killed;
9. Most of what we will hear being reported on American television will be untrue, especially in the first few days of conflict; overseas reporting, even Al Jazeera, will be more accurate;
10. No matter how lopsided the battles will be, each soldier and sailor has family back home, who will be worried no end over the fate of their loved ones, EVERY DAY OF THIS WAR;
11. We will discover the full extent of Hussein’s brutality and tyranny when Baghdad is “liberated”;
12. History will not look kindly at us for our prevarications used to justify going to war, for our manipulation of the tragedy of 9/11 to justify these acts, and for the bloody-minded lust that this Administration has pursued this war.

Letters to a Young Grovelarian: If the President were to stop moving, do you suppose Mr. Samgrass' nose would break?
A science fiction great receives the warm valedictory he deserves, from Avedon Carol.

March 18, 2003

My sister Jennifer is usually very soft-spoken and moderate, so when she does speak out on issues, it has more of an impact. This is the e-mail she sent to MSNBC tonight, regarding their "Countdown to War" gimmick:
I am really offended by the timeclock that counts down to the war. Do you realize that you are basically counting down the hours until we start killing people. This isn't Times Square on New Year's Eve - we are not all going to shout "Happy War Time!" when your little clocks ticks to zero. I truly believe that when your programming people have a little perspective in the next few months/years they will question what type of wartime hysteria led them to make such a crass decision. This truly lacks moral fiber. Think about it and try to have just a little compassion for the innocent people in Iraq that will be the true victims in this ego battle.

I think this is the lowest form of journalism. I will never watch again.

Jennifer A. Smith

Why can't I be that measured when I blog?
FASCISM ALERT: The largest national chain of radio stations in the country, ClearChannel, has pulled the songs of the Dixie Chicks off their playlists, due to the anti-war and anti-Bush statements of Natalie Maines last week. If this bothers you (regardless of your taste in music), give the group your support, and let the corporate pinheads know that it will be more costly for them to silence dissidents than to allow the Nazis to control our music.
UPDATE: Actually, the article mentions two Clear Channel stations in Florida, among hundreds of others across the country, that have joined the blacklisting, not the whole corporate empire. I guess I was too eager to assume that Clear Channel would choose the path of darkness, so I screwed up in alleging that this was part of a corporate-wide policy. Don't harass its executives, and don't dump its stock from your IRA, unless you have other good reasons for doing so.
Elsewhere, in Deliverance Country, Cumulus, Inc., a regional network of 300 music stations has decided to follow the demands of their bedsheet-wearing, Confederate Flag-waving, moonshine-drinking, knuckle-dragging listeners and ban the Chicks. Let these Necks know how you feel !!
QUICKIE TRIVIA QUESTION: Who was the last 16 seed to win a game in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament? First to correctly answer this question wins a night of pub-hopping with yours truly.

March 17, 2003

For those of you who still respect the law, here's the full text of U.N. Resolution No. 1441, and precedent Resolutions 678 and 687. Since the Coalition of the Willing (or the Axis of the Bribed, depending on your fancy) has now decided that further Security Council action would not be helpful, and might even be counterproductive, the rationale now being offered for going to war immediately is that Resolution 1441 provides enabling language for the use of force that was authorized in both of the earlier U.N. resolutions. Will all due respect to my legal colleagues, in both the U.S. and U.K., who formulated that approach, and without commenting on whether Iraq is, in fact, complying with UN Resolutions, your argument is bunk, and I would say further that you are a disgrace to the profession for putting the lives of soldiers and civilians into harm's way on such a flimsy pretext.

First, some background. Resolution No. 678, passed November 29, 1990, demanded that Iraq comply with an earlier UN Resolution (No. 660) to withdraw from Kuwait by a date certain, or that the member states could "use all necessary means" to make them withdraw. That's all it says. There is no other language extending beyond the liberation of Kuwait.
Resolution No. 687, passed April 3, 1991, was essentially the peace treaty between Iraq and the U.N. Among other things, Iraq had to respect Kuwait's borders (pursuant to a 1932 agreement), unconditionally agree to disarm and to allow U.N. inspections, to disavow terrorism, pay reparations, and do all manner of things to suggest that it was willing to rejoin the civilized world. Well, other than Ramsey Clark, Noam Chomsky and a few benighted souls, I don't think anyone believes that Iraq has fully complied with that resolution. However, there is no language in that particular resolution that authorizes force, in the clear language that Resolution No. 678 did a few months earlier.

So last year, the Security Council again met, and passed Resolution No. 1441. The UN, "deploring" Iraq's non-compliance, again demanded that Iraq disarm, comply with inspections, etc., and required that Iraq submit to a more comprehensive inspection regime. This time, however, the U.N. included an enforcement clause. Paragraph 4 of the resolution states:
(The Security Council) (d)ecides that false statements or omissions in the declaration submitted by Iraq pursuant to this resolution ad failure by Iraq at any time to comply with, and cooperate fully in the implementation of, this resolution shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq's obligations and will be reported to the Council for assessment in accordance with paragraphs 11 and 12 below.
Paragraphs 11 and 12 set out what the consequences would be if Iraq again failed to comply with the resolution: that the head inspector (Mr. Blix) would report any perceived breaches to the Security Council, which would "convene order to consider the situation and the need for full compliance with all the relevant Council resolutions in order to secure international peace and security."

In other words, the Security Council reserved to itself the right to determine whether Iraq complied with its resolutions. Nowhere in Resolution 1441 does the Security Council grant any nation the power to unilaterally judge the issue of compliance, much less to punish the Iraqi people. More to the point, the use of Resolution No. 678 as a rationale for war is one of the most staggering instances of intellectual dishonesty I can recall in my lifetime, by an administration that ran for office on a platform of knowing what "is" meant. The only reference to that resolution in 1441 is a statement that it had earlier authorized member states to go to war to liberate Kuwait. No sincere reading of that language gives any nation the power to invade Iraq again, without UN approval.

Maybe an argument can be made that the U.S. does not wish to pay lip service anymore to international law, and to working with other nations to protect the common good. Maybe we should withdraw from the U.N., as many on the right seem to wish. As I've said before, I generally support policies turning the screws up on Saddam Hussein, and would not oppose a war at all costs. But don't use legally tendentious reasoning to rationalize an attack on another country. That's the sort of history we don't need to see repeated.
I don't know what's more pathetic, the fact that the bookburning tactics of Joseph Goebbels are now being directed against those arch-foes of democracy, the Dixie Chicks, or the neck who decided to beat up a spectator at a rodeo because of his refusal to stand and salute while the Lee Greenwood "classic", I'm Proud to Be an American, played over the loudspeaker. Paul Begala was right.
UPDATE: Surprise, surprise, it turns out that the hate campaign against Natalie Maines, et al. didn't simply bubble out of the spontaneous anger of the redstaters, but was instead orchestrated by a white supremacist site, Free Republic, a particular favorite of men who take the song "Goodbye Earl" very personally.[Link via Cursor]
As I see it, Bush has painted himself into a corner. Abandoning even the pretext of adherence to international law, he and our remaining allies (eg., Bulgaria and Angola) are now demanding that Saddam leave Iraq by the start of the first round of the NCAA Tournament, or "suffer the consequences". Our best case scenario would have Saddam go into exile (or killed by his army) before CAL tips off with the Wolfpack Thursday morning. There would be no war, minimal casualties, and Bush would look like a genius, having forced his enemy from power by acting tough and going it alone: kind of like Clinton in Haiti. Of course, if Hussein calls our bluff, then any other result would be horrifying, both from the standpoint of civilian casualties and of American prestige overseas. As even the backers of the war concede, we are picking this fight because the enemy is weak, not because it is strong. Even a quick victory over a wicked foe will damage our national honor, and make America little more than a typical imperial bully.

March 16, 2003

Well, now that Selection Sunday is over, I can go back to obsessing about war and justice, at least until the play-in game Tuesday. Go Bears !!
Perhaps the easiest thing to do to show your opposition to the President is to buy this. Or this. Send them a message; you don't even have to leave your computer !!