Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Orrin Hatch channels Red Forman

From Fox News:

In the beginning of Wednesday's Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Bush nominee John G. Roberts Jr., Chairman Orrin Hatch praised Democrat Sen. Charles Schumer of New York for asking "intelligent" questions, but then Hatch switched gears.

"Some [of his questions] I totally disagree with," Hatch of Utah said. "Some I think are dumbass questions, between you and me. I am not kidding you. I mean, as much as I love and respect you, I just think that's true."

A stunned Schumer asked if he heard the chairman correctly, to which Hatch said yes. Again, Schumer asked Hatch if he would like to "revise and extend his remark," congressional speak for change his mind.

A former trial attorney, Hatch replied: "No, I am going to keep it exactly the way it is. I mean, I hate to say it. I mean, I feel badly saying it between you and me. But I do know dumbass questions when I see dumbass questions."

The nervous laughter that accompanied the exchange belies the growing tension over the confirmation process.

Ladies and gentlemen: the greatest deliberative body in the world.
Dr. Weevil is playing Ba'ath Poker but according to the cards he has listed, the highest ranking Iraqi official captured so far (#10 out of 55) was the Queen of Diamonds - Gen. Muzahim Sa'b Hasan Al Tikriti. What was his job? Commander of Air Defense Forces.

I mean, c'mon. The U.S. Air Force owned the Iraqi sky - was there really any Iraqi defense at all? What did this guy do to merit such a high ranking? I don't get it.
I'm back! Let's get back to business

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

No free ice cream for a week

Loyal readers and people who stumble onto this site accidentally: I'm going away on vacation with the family for a week, so there will be no posting until next Wednesday (unless I find a cybercafe at Disney World). In the grand tradition of lazy superstars throughout the world, here are my greatest hits (or at least the ones that got multiple links according to Blogdex). Enjoy!

Saddam Hussein meets Monty Python
To the Subscription Department of the New York Times
A Case for Torture (not as funny as the ones above)
Senators Bill Frist and John Edwards – a comparison
My fisking of a New York Times editorial

And since I've gotten your attention, maybe some of you could hit the Amazon tip jar over on the left. I'd like to upgrade from my ancient Compaq laptop with the 9" screen:

C'mon, look at that thing! It's an insult to my manhood!

See you soon. Keep on bloggin' !!!


Earth Day Quiz

This Ecological Footprint Quiz estimates how much productive land and water you need to support what you use and what you discard. After answering 15 easy questions you'll be able to compare your Ecological Footprint to what other people use and to what is available on this planet.

My 500+ mile weekly commute may have skewed my numbers a bit – it looks like I need 8.7 planets. I know the enviros want me to be ashamed, but I can’t stop picturing myself yelling: “The world is not enough!” Heh-heh.
Minority report on affirmative action

Ruben Navarette Jr. in the Washington Post and Thomas Sowell at Townhall both argue against quota systems in higher education.
Dr. Weevil deals the cards, but for some reason doesn't put the red eight on the black nine.
Can this possibly be true? Galloway was in Saddam's pay, say secret Iraqi documents

George Galloway, the Labour backbencher, received money from Saddam Hussein's regime, taking a slice of oil earnings worth at least £375,000 a year, according to Iraqi intelligence documents found by The Daily Telegraph in Baghdad.

A confidential memorandum sent to Saddam by his spy chief said that Mr Galloway asked an agent of the Mukhabarat secret service for a greater cut of Iraq's exports under the oil for food programme

I'm going to keep my powder dry on this story.
That Honda commerical

Don't bother going to the Honda website to see that awesome new Honda Accord commerical - it appears to be hopelessly overloaded. Instead, try this mirror site. Allegedly, this commerical required 606 takes over four days, with no computer trickery.

Monday, April 21, 2003

Sunday Best

How much do you want to bet that this picture gets prominent attention on Al-Jazzera and is presented in the Arab media as the Christian Crusaders practicing their religion on a conquered Muslim land?

Capt. Daniel Bucur, of Georgia, chaplain for Task Force 2-69 Armor, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division from Fort Benning, Georgia, prays with soldiers during Easter services along the Tigris River in central Baghdad, April 20, 2003 (link).
Are the Democrats taking lessons from Gary Condit’s political advisors?

From the Washington Times “Democrats stumble on national security”: “It is just beginning to dawn on some Democrats that their weak-kneed image on national security grew even worse in the war that destroyed Saddam Hussein's hated regime.”

Ha ha! Just kidding! We were pro-war all the way! USA!
A fine article calling for sanity in the Senate confirmation process in The Jurist titled "Confirming Judges: the Need for Rules" - hat tip to How Appealing. Here's my favorite line: Senators who believe they lack sufficient information to evaluate a candidate within this period can and probably should vote against confirmation.
Joanne Jacobs reviews a sixth-grade textbook from Iraq. The three Rs have been replaced with the three Bs: Baathism, brainwashing, and brutality.

Update: The permalink above is (surprise!) not working, so try Joanne's homepage.
This story won't be on Arab News anytime soon

Saddam's Family Lifestyles Shock Iraqis

Odai's house had reams of pornography off the Internet, boxes of sexual fortifiers, rooms of fine wines and liquors and Cuban cigars with his name on the wrappers.

Along with freezers stocked with bacon and pork chops (well, not really).

Sunday, April 20, 2003

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice

From the AP:

U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman was wrangling support for his presidential bid in Keene, N.H., and Sen. John Kerry was winging his way to sunny Florida to meet with the teachers' union in mid-January when the Senate rejected increased funding for education and Medicaid.

The amendment lost by two votes.

Two months later, Kerry was in Chicago raising money for his presidential campaign and North Carolina Sen. John Edwards was also out of town when a Democratic amendment to fully fund President Bush's education reforms was defeated - also by two votes.

Such close roll-call votes are rare, and with Republicans controlling the Senate, Vice President Dick Cheney would be available to break any ties. But as the 2004 presidential campaign heats up, the four senators vying for the Democratic nomination are spending more time on the road talking about issues, and less time voting on them.

Kerry, D-Mass., leads the pack with the most votes missed as of April 12. So far this year he has missed nearly four out of every 10 votes, not counting the two that came when he was recuperating from prostate surgery in February.

Emphasis added to highlight the Democratic candidate I like the least (see below).
Let's settle this as a fact to work from: this is not about patriotism - it's about judgment


So why wasn't U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry [D-MA] at last week's funeral of Matthew Boule, 22, the Dracut, Massachusetts native who was the state's first soldier to die in the Iraq war?

Kerry, a decorated Vietnam War veteran who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, was in Arizona on Tuesday -- fundraising and campaigning -- the very hour Boule was being buried, the DRUDGE REPORT can reveal.

Kerry's office did not respond to a request for comment.

Right now, Kerry staffers are preparing a statement that - as sure as the sun rises tomorrow - will once again try to cash in on the Senator's service in Vietnam. "Harrumph! How dare anybody question the Senator's patriotism!" Tom Delay may be mentioned.

This is not about patriotism. It's about common sense and doing the right thing. It's about honoring a soldier from your home state who, whether you agreed with the cause or not, died for his country. Shame on you, John Kerry. At least my governor, Mitt Romney, found the time to show his respect.
Dinner talk: Very interesting...and a little over at Winds of Change about a dinner conversation with an educated Iranian who is convinced there are over 75,000 civilian casualties in Iraq. Key graf from Armed Liberal:

What does it say about the millions of Arabs in the Middle East, and the gap between us, if this Westernized, educated, security-cleared man believes that we're essentially living in "The Matrix"? And what does that mean to our plans and hopes for the region?

It's a litle maddening when you're trying to talk to someone who takes the word of "somebody near the border" over every reputable news source in the Western world. Even Le Monde!

Saturday, April 19, 2003

I can't bear to see a grown man cry...about medical malpractice rates. But DB at Medical Rants was pitiful in his begging that I should read this post from Rangel MD. Then I started to cry.
The New York Times never fails to amuse

The Times has an editorial today called "Time is not on our Side" deploring the fact that the Supreme Court has not yet decided on the constitutionality of the McCain-Feingold law and, specifically, the ban on soft money. The case is moving through the court way too slow!

The Supreme Court may be facing another hurried rendezvous with the nation's electoral system, this time with the new law that banned unregulated "soft money" campaign donations. The court needs to rule quickly on the legal challenges to the law, but time is running short and the issue is taking a disturbingly long time in making its way through the lower courts.

The editorial board of the NYT has always been a staunch supporter of McCain-Feingold, and now that it's law, you would think they'd be happy. But NOOOOOOOO!!!! [insert John Belushi voice]. Suddenly, they're agitating for clarification, which may reverse the ban on soft money. Why?

Here are two articles that may illuminate the situation: Fund-Raising Gives G.O.P. A Big Lead In Last Cycle and Dems stewing in own campaign finance juices

Now ask yourself: if the ban on soft money helped the Democrats more than the Republicans, is there a snowcone's chance in Hades that the Times would have run the same editorial? I think not.

Why the Security Council Failed

The Council on Foreign Relations puts out the periodical Foreign Affairs which, although a little dense at times, often produces must-read articles on international policy. The latest issue has an article titled "Why the Security Council Failed" - here's the summary provided:

Summary: One thing the current Iraq crisis has made clear is that a grand experiment of the twentieth century--the attempt to impose binding international law on the use of force--has failed. As Washington showed, nations need consider not whether armed intervention abroad is legal, merely whether it is preferable to the alternatives. The structure and rules of the UN Security Council really reflected the hopes of its founders rather than the realities of the way states work. And these hopes were no match for American hyperpower.

The whole article is available online for all you policy wonks out there.
Syria is just asking for it

From the NYT: WASHINGTON, April 18 — The United States believes that at least seven senior Iraqi officials are now in Syria, including a figure who is No. 8 on the American wanted list, defense officials said today

You shouldn't make us angry, wouldn't like us when we're angry

Friday, April 18, 2003

Eric Olsen's Blogcritics has been redesigned again. No word as to how long before the URL address changes again.
Permalinks? More like perma-stinks! Deep thanks to those who have tried to link me recently (like Henry Hanks today) but the Blogger permalinks never seem to work. It would probably be better to just link my main page and say "Scroll down." Thanks anyway!

Update: Carl at Between the Coasts gave me some good advice. I republished my archives and now everything's cool. Thanks Carl!

Everything sucks is going great!

Check out these poll numbers on Real Clear Politics for the generic “Direction of the Country” question (scroll down below President Bush’s Approval/Disapproval ratings). In February and March, the “Right Direction/Wrong Direction” gap was running up to a 25% gap saying we were heading down the wrong path [CNN/Gallup/USA Today on 3/3-3/5: 61% “wrong direction” vs. 36% “right direction.”]

A couple of days ago, the NBC/WSJ poll said 62% “right direction” and 22% “wrong direction”. What a difference a successful war makes.

In related news: Tom Daschle and Nancy Pelosi were seen drinking boilermakers at O'Malleys on J Street.

Blair v. Bart

From the Economist Online:

FOR Britons waiting for some gesture in recognition of the risks that Tony Blair has taken for the transatlantic alliance, satisfaction has come at last. Mr Blair is to be admitted to the grandest of American halls of fame. He has been given a bit part in “The Simpsons”.

Whatever makes you happy, Tony! Later in the article, there's this smirk-worthy graf:

The trouble is that, in these extreme times, reality becomes hard to satirise. The Simpsons' main contribution to the war effort was the line “cheese-eating surrender-monkeys”. It was intended as a caricature of the American right's attitude to the French, but has been taken up gleefully by Francophobes and used to taunt cheese-eating surrender-monkeys everywhere for their lily-livered pacifism.


The Eyebrow Criterion

I’ve become a fan of Howard Bashman’s How Appealing website and its prolific updates. Among many new posts today, he takes aim on George Will’s Washington Post column yesterday titled “License to Legislate.”

Supreme Court rulings are always interesting to me, but moreso when split decisions put ideological opposites on the same side. In the case outlined in Will’s article, Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsberg (!) dissented in a decision that limited the damages in a case as “arbitrary” and “grossly excessive.” It would seem that those justices – along with George Will – believe that the Constitution does not have a guideline for what is excessive and that the justices were exercising a power that was not theirs to decide. That is, the justices created a “license to legislate” because Congress is incapable of passing even the most anodyne tort reform thanks to the Democrats obstructionism.

I tend to agree with Scalia and Will – the “Eyebrow Criterion” is not a Constitutional reason for the Supreme Court to do what the legislature refuses to do.

I was going to take my shot at Paul Krugman’s vapid opinion piece today, but Matthew Hoy (who finally finished moving into his condo) is on the job.
Democrats love taxes

Here’s Robert Robb in the Arizona Republic “Dems should try less double talk”: It's astonishing the extent to which Democrats are permitted to support the status quo in tax policy without actually defending it.

Robb takes a sideways look at tax policy and notes that Democrats hate changing the status quo (e.g. “tax cuts favoring the rich”) but never have the nerve to defend a taxation rate of 35% or the double taxation of dividends that pushes the effective tax rate to 60%.

I liked this little dig at Senator Splunge also:

Kerry says he prefers to temporarily reduce the payroll tax as an economic stimulus. The payroll tax is, indeed, a regressive job-killer. A case can even be made that reducing it on a permanent basis should have priority over reducing the taxation of dividends or lowering personal income tax rates.

But that would require getting real about financing Social Security, which no Democratic candidate for president is going to do

As 2004 approaches, watch for the DNC to roll out their bi-annual “Scare Grandma” campaign.

Cowardly French Vanilla

Well, I finally worked up the nerve and pulled the prank I proposed a month ago. The Mobil was mostly deserted this morning (Good Friday) and I put a little yellow sticker reading “COWARDLY” in front of the “French Vanilla” on the coffee carafe – thus turning it into “Cowardly French Vanilla.”

I’m sure it was only up for 20 minutes or so, but I’m sure it brought a smile to a couple of coffee drinkers.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Asshat celebrities need a 2x4 across the head

From Fox News: “Anti-War Celebrities may face backlash

Some stars promised to take it all back if the war went well. [Janeane] Garofalo told Fox News' Bill O'Reilly that if the Iraqis were happy with their liberation, she would bring a fruitcake and orchids to the White House and apologize to Bush.

"I would be so willing to say, 'I'm sorry,'" Garofalo said. "I hope to God that I can be made a buffoon of, that people will say, 'You were wrong. You were a fatalist.' And I will go to the White House on my knees on cut glass and say … I shouldn't have doubted you."

[Martin] Sheen told Paul Bond of The Hollywood Reporter that he's "always open to the possibility that I'm wrong," but when asked if he would publicly state that maybe his anti-war rhetoric was too harsh, Sheen promised Bond a dinner where they would "see who eats who."

But no apologies have been heard yet and some say the American people are waiting.

"I don't think the American people will ever forget what they did," [Lori] Bardsley [of Citizens against Celebrity Pundits] said. "They put so much money and so much behind an effort that brought about the most anti-American vile sentiment we've seen in a long time … when our troops were put in harm's way."

Here’s my beef: before the war started, there were a lot of people (like me) who felt that loudmouth celebrity-types like Michael Moore and Sheryl Crow were against the war in Iraq simply because they did not like President Bush. That is, it was never about Iraq or even war in general; it was that the Hollywood crowd just reflexively opposes whatever Bush proposes. But I left open the possibility that they weren’t just engaging in moral posturing, and that they could be genuinely concerned about American troops, the specter of chemical weapons and a drawn-out war.

But now that the war has ended, not one of these peaceniks has come forward to say “I was wrong.” As children poured out of Baghdad prisons, as Iraqis danced atop the shattered remnants of Saddam’s statue, and as new revelations of Hussein’s horrors has come to light, not one has come out and said “This was a good thing.” On the contrary, some, like Tim Robbins, have chosen to pull tight the threadbare cloth of anti-war vanity and claim that it’s they who are being persecuted. How dare we pull aside that veil of smug self-satisfaction!

These Hollywood half-wits could salvage a little credibility and dignity if they admitted what is obvious to even French politicians: the war was a success that made the world a safer place (witness the conciliatory moves in North Korea, Iran, and Syria). Put aside your hate, embrace the truth, and apologize. Otherwise, forfeit your right to whine about censorship when Americans chose to not see your movie.

The Evil Moron Running Syria

C’mon, Slate, tell us how you really feel about Bashar Assad: “No one expects war anytime soon, but Assad's stupidity has put the subject on the table.”
Irony too rich not to mention: I was in a meeting this morning where all the managers and engineers in the company were supposed to learn about reducing waste and continuous improvement. The experts were late, resulting in several man-hours wasted as everyone sat around waiting for these guys to show up. Surprisingly, this has done little to quell my deep-rooted, sarcastic, cynicism.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Long Live the Brits

On page A10 of today's New York Times was an ad by Virgin Atlantic Airlines reading as follows: "Take your closest ally to visit America's closest ally" – then urging you to buy a ticket on Virgin to visit London. Later in the ad, there's this slick line: "So choose a friend, book online, and head to England."

There's been no better friend to the U.S. than England throughout this ordeal and, brash commercialism aside, why not trumpet that? Tourism to France (surrender monkeys), Asia (SARS), and the Middle East should suffer so that we Americans can drink warm beer and eat haggis. God Bless Tony Blair!
BTW, there was also this headline, straight from the front page: "Free to Protest, Iraqis Complain about the U.S." – yeah, you're welcome.

Last month, I wrote a post about my trip to the Boeing Phantom Works plant in St. Louis. Today, President Bush visited the very same plant.

(Apologies if that Blogger permalink doesn't work - they've been uncooperative lately)

We're #395!

Well, I entered Viking Pundit into the Blogging Ecosystem and it looks like I'm an Insignificant Microbe. Does that sound right? I need a beer...and some links.
I voted for Saudi Arabia

France is way in the lead for the next country in need of serious liberation: Which Country is Next?
(Warning: traffic is heavy right now)
Did somebody strike a nerve at the NYT?

From Newsday:

The publisher of The New York Times yesterday vowed that it would not be "cowed" by critics of the daily newspaper's reporting and commentary on the war with Iraq.

Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., speaking at a meeting of company shareholders, said "this great organization will never be cowed by attempts to demean our journalism and our good name." The third-largest U.S. paper, considered one of the most influential, will continue to report the news "without fear or favor," he said, quoting a century-old editorial from the Times.

Sulzberger's defense was somewhat unusual given that the paper often is the target of criticism to which he doesn't publicly respond. Still, supporters of the war, media watchdogs and others have blasted the Times for allegedly casting doubt in articles and headlines about the United States' ability to win a quick victory against Saddam Hussein's regime.

The New York Times, biased? Heaven forfend!
Hispanic judge unanimously confirmed by Senate Judiciary Committee

David Broder has column in today’s Washington Post contrasting the nomination process of Latino judge Edward Prado to the 5th Circuit, as compared to the Miguel Estrada stonewalling – “Tale of Two Judges.”

Broder makes the case that Prado was more forthcoming, and maybe a little charming, to both the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Judiciary Committee. Maybe true. But I don’t view social ineptness to be a compelling reason to keep a well-qualified candidate such as Miguel Estrada off the federal bench.
Democrats: Increasingly detached from reality

Here’s Tony Blankley in the Washington Times

At a time when polls show 80 percent of the public (and over 60 percent of self-identified Democrats) approve of Mr. Bush's handling of the Iraq war, the Democratic activists are feeling an "exasperated ambivalence." At a time when three out of four Americans approve the job the president is doing overall as president, "every major institutional player in the Democrats' orbit" believe his presidency is "an unmitigated disaster."

And here’s a quote from today’s Boston Globe:

From the presidential trail to the halls of Congress, Democrats have already decided that Bush's military success in the Iraq war will not translate into political strength at home. They are ready to attack the administration's economic record and fight against Bush's tax-cut proposal in Congress.

I sense a Mondale-esque "I'll raise your taxes" stance coupled with "We bravely opposed the war" will do wonders for the Democrats' chances in 2004.

Bill Clinton – the shrinking ex-President

Vincent over at Insignificant Thoughts runs through Clinton’s prevarications on his last 60 Minutes appearance (e.g. “I tried to catch Bin Laden”), but the Pejman really drives it home with a post titled “It Must Really Suck to Be Bill Clinton

You would think that someone who is supposed to be some kind of political genius would recognize that criticism of the current President’s foreign policy would look peevish and defensive. Clinton has entered the worst level of hell for him: irrelevancy. Jimmy Carter has his Nobel Prize, Hillary is a Senator, and three-quarters of Americans think Dubya is going a bang-up job. Meanwhile, Big Bill tries to fight back the whispering of “why couldn’t Clinton do in eight years what Bush did in two?” It’s going to be a long, lonely, ex-Presidency for Clinton.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

News of my death is greatly exaggerated, infidels!

From some Iranian paper: Iraqi refugees: Al-Sahaf committed suicide

Iraqi refugees who have taken shelter at Iraq's borders near the Iranian town of Dehloran over the week have claimed that Information Minister Saeed al-Sahaf had committed suicide, the Iranian newspaper, Mardomsalari reported Tuesday.

The Americans will die on my funeral pyre! I'm not dead yet!

No matter what, We Love the Iraqi Information Minister
I have to get outside - I hear it's nice out there. And where's the Carnival of Vanities this week? I might want to submit the post below. Genius! Don't you agree?
Transcript of Bush-Chirac telephone conversation

From the Associated Press: France’s Chirac, Bush speak by Telephone

PARIS - French President Jacques Chirac and President Bush spoke by telephone for the first time in more than two months Tuesday, in a possible sign of warming ties after their bitter dispute over war in Iraq.

GWB: Frere Jacques! The Chiracinator! What’s up?
JC: Hello, George, my old friend.
GWB: [coldly] You know, I prefer to be called Mr. President.
JC: But of course, Mr. President.
GWB: Hey Jock-Strap, did you know both your first and last name rhyme with Iraq? Kinda makes you think, huh?
JC: Mr. President, I’d like to congratulate you on America’s success and talk about what we can do together to rebuild Iraq.
GWB: What did you have in mind, yellow?
JC: Excuse me?
GWB: I mean what do you have in mind, my fine fellow?
JC: Well, Mr. President, France believes that the best way to help the Iraqi people and re-establish the relevancy of international law, would be to let the United Nations take over the rebuilding effort
JC: Mr. President?
GWB: Oh, pardon moi, I just put the phone down for a second while I cut my toenails. You were saying?
JC: I said the United Nations should take an active role.
GWB: Hey Joke…I mean Jacques…I have an idea. Since Iraq is a whole new country now, I think it’s unfair that it should be saddled with old debt. What do you say you forgive all the debt owed to France by Iraq. That could be a start.
JC: Well….
GWB: And I think we should start fresh in terms of oil contracts. I’m sure the Iraqis are very grateful for all the development work that TotalFinaElf has done in their country, but they might feel more comfortable working with countries that, you know, helped to liberate them. I’m thinking Halliburton for development and BP for production.
JC: Mr. President, surely this kind of arbitration falls under the purview of the United Nations….
GWB: There you go with that United Nations again. Tell you what, Chirac-o-lamb, why don’t you put together a resolution on Iraqi reconstruction and submit it to the Security Council? I got a really itchy veto finger ready to scratch.
JC: But Mr. President, please be reasonable. International opinion…..
GWB: [interrupting] Whoa, whoa, Jacques, can you hold on? Don Rumsfeld just walked into the Oval Office with an important update from Iraq. It’ll just be a second.
[Rumsfeld, sitting on a couch, covers his mouth and starts to laugh]
JC: Yes, Mr. President. I can wait.
GWB: OK, thanks, it’ll just be a moment. [Puts Chirac on hold]
[To Rumsfeld] – C’mon Rummy, let’s go get us some cheeseburgers and freedom fries.
[They leave, roaring with laughter.]

Monday, April 14, 2003

Notable Quotables: The Media Research Center has their latest version of the most outrageously-biased quotes from the past two weeks. For some reason, Peter Jennings is well-represented.
Mark Steyn sez: Bush said he'd do it ... and he did
Mock Headline of the Day: “Hungarian Youth Celebrate Imminent Return Of Oppressive Bureaucracy After Decade Of Scary, Confusing Liberty” (from Silflay Hraka)
Welfare Warriors

Julia Gorin has a biting commentary called “Welfare Warriors” in today’s Opinion Journal, about how the anti-war left views the military as a job training program. Key graf:

To the antiwar left, then, the military is a social program that went awry. As long as it was giving and not taking, the idea of national defense was tolerable. Indeed, what other purpose could national defense serve besides job creation, since America's enemies were figments of the right's imagination? So the idea has been for Americans to get an income and training, but not, God forbid, actually to serve in combat.

The local left-weekly here in the Pioneer Valley recently had an article titled “Veterans Against the War” profiling a bunch of AARP-members who take the time to protest U.S. military action wherever it may be. It was never revealed in the article, but I would have liked to know if these principled men were so horrified by the actions of their country that they refused their veterans benefits. Isn’t a little hypocritical to protest against your country’s military engagements while collecting a military pension? I’m sure there’s a rationalization in there somewhere.
More on the Axis of Evil: Steven Den Beste at USS Clueless offers up this great post on the shifting geo-political landscape in North Korea. Crazy Kim is starting to get the U.S. message, via China.
Axis of Evil update

Hmmm…methinks the quick war in Iraq has gained the attention of the other Axis members:

Iran may consider resuming ties with U.S.

TEHRAN, Iran, April 12 (UPI) -- Iran on Saturday hinted at ways the Shiite Muslim country could resume ties with the United States, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

In an interview with the Rahbord (Strategy) periodical, published by the Center for Strategic Studies, Iran's powerful former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said the two decade-long freeze on relations between Iran and the United States could be resolved either through a popular vote or a decision by Iran's arbitration body, the Expediency Council.

And, on the other side of the globe, North Korea willing to talk to 'a sincere US'

North Korea has made a significant move towards dialogue with the US after an apparently successful attempt by China to break the deadlock between Washington and Pyongyang.

The North Korean foreign ministry said at the weekend that it would accept "any form of dialogue" if the US was willing to "change its policy".

Until now, Pyongyang had refused to discuss its nuclear programme with the United States unless Washington accepted bilateral talks, and had argued that the US was bent on war against North Korea.

Why the softening in North Korea’s position?

While Pyongyang has blown hot and cold in the past, it has now made a significant concession, which previously it had rejected. Analysts in the South Korean capital, Seoul, believe the North Koreans are seriously concerned that they may be next on President Bush's war list.

So, war really is the continuation of politics by other means.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

That didn't take long: EBay flooded with Iraqi playing cards. Tommy Franks, check your desk.
Denial ain't just a....oh, nevermind

The NY Times also has a remarkable story called "At a Tea Shop in Cairo, Disbelief at War Reports" in the Sunday paper. The men occupying the New York Times editorial board Egyptian teahouse simply refuse to believe that the Iraqis welcomed the U.S. soldiers. But I really got a kick out of this last paragraph in the article:

He leaned back. "God makes us to enjoy life, not to kill people. In Egypt we have 7,000 years of civilization. Another country with just 200 years of civilization will not stand for a long time against the whole world."

Dude! You had a 6,800-year head start on us, and your country is a basket case!

According to the CIA World Factbook for Egypt:
Infant mortality rate = 58.6 / 1000 live births (Albania, Bolivia, and sanctioned Iraq were better)
Literacy rate = 51%
Per capita income = $3,700
Unemployment = 12%

All this in a country awash in oil and pulling in hard currency in tourism money (at least until 9/11). If you enjoy life so much, why don't you build a society where substantially more than half of the citizens can read?

Saturday, April 12, 2003

The New York Times: Harshing your mellow

I've just read tomorrow's (Sunday's) New York Times main editorial and, oh boy, is it a doozy. Military success in Iraq has triggered the whole gamut of death-spiral emotions at West 43rd Street: disbelief, anger, and depression. There's no guarantee that acceptance will follow.

We did not like the combative doctrine when it was formally unveiled last September because it seemed to walk away from America's historical inclination to work with other nations to preserve the peace and to rely on force only when its security was directly threatened. The overthrow of Mr. Hussein does not make it seem any more valid.

To the NYT, "other nations" = France and Germany. Also, I'd desperately like to get Howell Raines to go over to Baghdad and say: "Sure, Saddam is gone, but was it worth the damage caused to the integrity of the United Nations?" Hilarity is sure to ensue.

The yearning to right wrongs has a noble tradition in American foreign policy, and few could oppose those portions of the Bush doctrine that would extend the benefits of freedom, democracy, prosperity and the rule of law to the far corners of the globe. Unfortunately, these goals were overshadowed by an arrogant, go-it-alone stance and an aggressive claim to the right to use pre-emptive action against threatening states.

Yeah, whatever. Do they even remember 9/11 over at the Times? Do we have to wait until we're attacked again before we take action? Let Iraq develop nuclear weapons? Should we seek out permission from Europe every time we want to protect ourselves? Morons – back to the ivory tower for you.

Friday, April 11, 2003

Laurence Simon has moved Amish Tech Support to Blogmosis. Bastard still won't link Viking Pundit. Update your links....with Viking Pundit, that is.

The Mirror: TONY Blair took a gamble yesterday by recording an episode of The Simpsons while Britain is still at war.

But he reckons it will pay off.

Downing Street sources insisted last night that Simpsons fan Mr Blair, who watches the anarchic animation with his children, agreed to appear in the show months ago.

Senator Splunge update

From today’s Opinion Journal's Best of the Web today:

Political consultants often talk about the importance of a candidate staying "on message." For a good example of why they're right, consider the case of Sen. John "The Patriot" Kerry. He voted in favor of the war with Iraq, then denounced the president for getting us into a war, then demanded "regime change" in America, then raised questions about his own patriotism. All this served only to confuse voters and distract from the central theme of his candidacy, namely that he is uniquely qualified to be president because he served in Vietnam.

Don’t forget his pledge to only nominate pro-choice judges, although this doesn’t constitute a “litmus test.” Round and round we go.
Playing solitaire 'til one, with a deck of....55

Transcript from today’s CentCom briefing

Here’s an excerpt:

General Brooks: “I would add that information-wise, the coalition governments have identified a list of key regime leaders who must be pursued and brought to justice. The key list has 55 individuals who may be pursued, killed or captured, and the list does not exclude leaders who may have already been killed or captured. This list has been provided to coalition forces on the ground in several forms to ease identification when contact does occur. And this deck of cards is one example of what we provide to soldiers out -- soldiers and marines out in the field -- with the faces of the individuals and what their role is. In this case, there are 55 cards in the deck.”

And a question from the media:

[Jeff Meade from Sky News] “And if I can also ask a second question, your deck of 55 most wanted, does that include the former information minister -- because every pack needs a joker?” (Laughter.)

GEN. BROOKS: “Well said, Jeff. Well said. Well, there are jokers in this deck, there's no doubt about that. (Laughter.) And that is also there are cards that have "joker" marked on them.

The American Press is from Venus, the Arab press is from…. another universe

From the main editorial in yesterday’s Jordan Times titled “Listen to the Friends” [emphasis added in parts – hat tip to Slate’s International Papers]

There was no footage yesterday showing Iraqis' rejection of a US military occupation, but there will indeed soon be plenty, if Washington makes the mistake to listen to its “hawks” rather than to its friends.
All three moderate Arab countries yesterday urged Washington to let Iraqis choose their own government as soon as possible. It is no coincidence that this same call came simultaneously from Amman, Cairo and Riyadh.

Are those the aforementioned “friends”? Calling for self-determination for the Iraqis? They want a representative government? Have I slipped through to Bizarro world? Can I be any more sarcastic?

Iraqis might be happy that Saddam's regime is disintegrating. It does not mean that they would be happy for that regime to be replaced by another imposed from the outside. It does not mean that the breach of international legitimacy and UN Charter by the so-called “coalition” was justified. It does not mean, most of all, that all the suffering and death brought about by this war was “for a good cause.”

I started to write, then erased, a dozen things in response to this. I think I’ll just leave it there, calm down, and get a cup of coffee. Add your own comments below.
Morning rundown

Lots of great editorial cartoons at American Realpolitik this fine day

Jack Shafer of Slate really likes the News Analysis stylings of the New York Times' R.W. Apple - NOT!

John Hawkins at Right Wing News surveys the aftermath at the anti-war blogging sites.

And here's a little tidbit from Fox News that gave me a chuckle:

BAGHDAD, Iraq — There was a bit of unfinished business left over in Baghdad from the 1991 Gulf War. The U.S. Army has taken care of it

At the Al-Rashid Hotel, President Bush the elder — father of the current American chief executive who ordered this year's invasion of Iraq — is a doormat no more.

U.S. soldiers visited the battered Al-Rashid on Thursday night wielding hammers and chisels, and dug out the intricate tile mosaic of the former president that was used for years as a state-sponsored insult.

In its place, they laid a portrait of Saddam Hussein

That's worth a smile.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

The Fall of the House of Saud

The Atlantic magazine has a must-read article in this month's new issue (May 2003 - not yet available online) called "The Fall of the House of Saud" abridged from a book coming out in June by Robert Baer called "Sleeping with the Devil". I've written a brief review over at Blogcritics, but if you want to understand the corrupting relationship between the U.S. and the Saud family, pick up this compelling article. Then buy the book, due out June 2003.

George W. Bush for the Nobel Peace Prize

There’s a picture on the Washington Post web site today with the following caption: A Kurdish fighter holds a placard that reads "Bush and Blair, the champions of peace." The sign is in Arabic but English-speaking readers will recognize the words scrawled along the top: “Yes Yes Bush”.

This got me thinking, but then David Brooks stole my thunder:

If there were any justice in the world, George W. Bush and Tony Blair would share the next Nobel Peace Prize. They have destroyed a regime that caused more Muslim deaths than any other government in history. Over the past few days we have seen jubilant crowds. We have seen kids freed from a children’s prison where they were jailed for not joining the fascist youth brigades. We have seen men released from torture centres, where, just hours before, they were forced to endure the last sadistic spasms of the Baath regime.

Yes Yes Bush. Somebody more web-savvy than me should set up an on-line petition to nominate Dubya for the Nobel Peace Prize. The Prize should applaud something other than pacifist gum-flapping; let’s make it stand for the active destruction of conspicuous evil.

No more Yassir Arafats, Rigoberta Menchus, or Jimmy Carters.

Yes Yes Bush. George W. Bush and Tony Blair for the Nobel Peace Prize.

You know you miss him – now remember all his greatest hits!

We Love The Iraqi Information Minister

The Washington Post vs. the New York Times on the liberation of Iraq

It’s hard to overstate the day-and-night quality between the lead editorials in the Washington Post and the New York Times today. For the Post, it’s a moment to reflect on a tremendous military victory and savor the images of Iraqis kissing Marines and dancing in the streets. Here’s the opening line of the Post’s editorial “Liberated Baghdad”:

THE GLORIOUS IMAGES of Iraqis and U.S. Marines joining to topple a statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad yesterday came just three weeks after those first scenes of billowing black smoke from the war's opening bombing -- yet for many Iraqis the celebration was long overdue.

Damn straight. The Washington Post has been consistently in support of the war in Iraq, and they have the well-earned right to engage in a little patriotic endzone dancing. To be fair, the editorial looks forward to the difficulties of peace, but the Post is also mindful of the larger geo-political significance in the end of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship.

For the New York Times, it’s all hand-wringing, all the time. Here’s their lead-off sentence from “The Fall of Baghdad”:

The murderous reign of Saddam Hussein effectively ended yesterday as downtown Baghdad slipped from the grip of the Iraqi regime and citizens streamed into the streets to celebrate the sudden disintegration of Mr. Hussein's 24-year dictatorship.

Note the somewhat negative connotation of the title (esp. compared to “Liberated Baghdad”) as well as the passive voice here: “Baghdad slipped from the grip.” Some U.S. Marines may have been involved…we’re not sure. And how about this bout of amnesia?

Opinion about this war has been divided from the beginning.

That means on the NY Times editorial board, William Safire was for it.

On the whole, the editorial wallows in the hard road ahead, with nary a look over the shoulder at the weeping middle-age Iraqi looking as if a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. A more honest paper might have published an editorial simply titled “We Were Wrong.”

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Good night! (permalink kicker)
The Game is Over

UNITED NATIONS - Iraq's U.N. ambassador said Wednesday "the game is over" — and that means the war is over. Mohammed Al-Douri expressed hope that the Iraqi people will now be able to live in peace. His comments were the first admission by an Iraqi official that U.S.-led forces had overwhelmed Iraqi forces after a three-week campaign.

Indeed the game is over. As this exclusive picture indicates, Saddam Hussein and his sons have barricaded themselves in an underground bunker, behind a huge rock. Only a single guard with a flamethrower protects them from the Marine sent into the catacombs to bring Saddam to justice.

Bring him to justice....or blow him up with an air pump.

One last thing: Here's Janeane Garofalo making a fool of herself on O'Reilly on March 6th. Start the Apology Watch.
Speaking of the “Not in our Name” crowd

The whiny ankle-biters at Tapped have been curiously quiet all day, finally breaking their silence and posting their first comments at 3:46pm today. The topic of that first post? Well, it wasn’t about the imprisonment of children or Iraqis kissing Marines. It was, trivially, about a news alert at the New York Times Online they considered trivial. You would need an electron microscope to see how relevant this is compared to the events of the past 24 hours.
The aftermath

Is it just too easy to dump on the Hollywood liberal peacenik crowd now that Iraq has been liberated with relative ease? Yes…but take a look at the spontaneous demonstrations filling our television screens, the emptied torture chambers, the earnest gratitude expressed in broken English, and remember that there were non-French people who stridently argued that George Bush was the real terrorist and the United States was the real threat to civilization.

Charles Johnson had it right:

Those who sought to keep the Iraqi people in their living hell, who stood in the way of their liberation, and insisted that the US and Britain and Australia and our many other partners had no right to take action to defend both the Iraqis and ourselves: This was NOT IN YOUR NAME.

Now – you – go to Occam’s Toothbrush and look through the photo album of a freed people. My favorites are the U.S. flag with Rocky Balboa and the guy holding the sign saying “Bay Bay Sadam”. Awesome.

Remember: It means nothing to her

Here’s Janeane Garofalo in late January:

What bugs [Janeane Garofalo] most of all is when interviewers question whether she's torpedoing her career.
"You can't force people to cast you or become younger or more popular. What I do have is control over my mind, my life and my participation in current events. I won't stick my head in the sand and have history roll right over me. I refuse to allow my government and the mainstream media to bully me into accepting a war that is immoral and illegal. If it means people make fun of me or think I'm a jerk, or I lose a job here and there, that means nothing to me."

Here’s the reality today:

April 9 — Will another anti-war celeb take a career hit? Bush supporters have been deluging ABC with calls and e-mails, complaining about a sitcom the network has in development starring outspoken war protester Janeane Garofalo.

Hello? Mr. Asner? This is Janeane Garofalo. Yeah, yeah, fine. Look, I hear you’re making a movie with Michael Moore and I was wondering if you could get me a part? I’m dying here. All my black clothes are starting to fade – stupid “Cheer” says it won’t fade colors – black’s a color, right? I mean c’mon!"
Sic Semper Tyrannis

This is a four-picture combination of images taken from video of the 40-foot statue of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein being toppled in Ferdowsi square in Baghdad, Iraq , Wednesda, April 9, 2002. (AP Photo/APTN)

Damn....Toren Smith is closing down The Safety Valve.
Democrats block vote on Bush court nominee

No, it's not Miguel Estrada - now it's Priscilla Owen.

Senate Democrats yesterday blocked a prompt vote on President Bush's nomination of Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla R. Owen to a federal appeals court but stopped short of saying they will attempt to prevent her confirmation.

Later, when Sen. Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah) sought agreement for a vote after six hours of debate and then modified it to cover 10 hours, Democratic Whip Harry M. Reid (Nev.) objected. When Bennett asked if "any number of hours would be sufficient," Reid said, "Speaking for the senator from Nevada, there is not a number in the universe that would be sufficient."

Such a reasonable bunch, these Democrats.
Almost certainly an urban legend, but funny nonetheless

From National Review's Corner:
I was out looking at some soldiers in the 3-327 Infantry and one of them was sharing some cookies he had just received in the mail. A photographer walked over to him and asked in a heavy French accent for a cookie. The soldier glanced up and told him no cookies for anyone from France. The photographer claimed he was half Italian. Without missing a beat the soldier broke a cookie in half and handed it over.

The Bleat today is a bit of a downer (children’s jail, 1984) but I got a dark chuckle out of this conclusion:

Spellchecking this bleat, the computer choked on Uday and Qusay. Did I want the program to learn these words, in case I used them again?

No. And no.

It's always something - Sitemeter is acting up and slowing down this page - disabled (for now).

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

What next? - The Sydney Morning Herald has a great article on what foreign policy changes we might expect to see - "Welcome to Bush's new Middle East Order"
This is what this war is all about

If this story was submitted to Hollywood, it would have been rejected as sentimental fantasy.
If reported by anything other than the New York Times, it would have been dismissed as pro-war propaganda.
But it's true, and it's nearly enough to melt away any argument that this war was unjust.

A man flees Iraq in 1991 - joins the Marines as an interpreter - re-unites with his son. Read on.

Khuder al-Emiri, with beard, a translator for the Marines, returned to his hometown, Qalat Sukkar, on Monday and found his son, Ali, who was just a boy when Mr. Emiri fled in 1991. Villagers welcomed him as a returning hero.

From the New York Times: "Troops Bring Home an Iraqi Who Fled in '91"

The drama began later, out on the street in the public square. Mr. Emiri's cousin recognized him and shouted his name. A crowd began to gather.

"Your brother is dead," his cousin told him. He slumped. Then Mr. Emiri's son, Ali, was produced and the man wept uncontrollably. He did not recognize the young man who was a boy when he fled. He did not recognize his other brothers, or his sister.

Word of Mr. Emiri's arrival spread through town by way of children's feet. Their hero was with the Americans and the crowd believed the marines' intentions were good. They began to chant in English. "Stay! Stay! U.S.A.!"

Hat tip to Croooow Blog who also has a great picture on the top of his page and Tom Maguire who picked up the story first (well, I saw it there first.)

Damn....only in America.
Slate answers the question on everybody's mind right now: How Could We Identify Saddam's Body?
Bad ideas that refuse to die

Pennsylvania is considering joining the host of states that have instituted "Screw me" “Tax Me More!” initiatives to raise more revenue, despite the awful track record of the scheme.

[Arkansas Governor Mike] Huckabee's "Tax Me More Fund" was a response to legislators who insisted that tax increases or other measures were needed to offset $142 million in budget cuts. To date, it has taken in between $2,000 and $3,000, according to his spokesman, Jim Harris.

Meanwhile, here in the “Commonwealth” of Massachusetts, the voluntary income tax rate isn’t fooling many people:

VOLUNTARY TAX- Citizens for Limited Taxation (CLT) announced that according to the Department of Revenue, only 504 taxpayers have chosen the new option of voluntarily paying a 5.85 percent rate on their 2002 income tax rather than the mandatory minimum 5.3 percent. CLT sponsored this option that was approved by the legislature and says it was reaching out to the 1,055,181 people who voted against the 2000 ballot question reducing the income tax by giving them the opportunity to pay a higher tax rate and "put their money where their politics are." CLT has also challenged legislators and interest groups who want their pro-tax hike position to be taken seriously, to disclose whether they chose to pay the higher tax rate.

Controlling spending – is that ever an option?
Senator Splunge and his sidekick, Kruggy

I would love to let the John Kerry “regime change” comment pass, believe me. I don’t want to talk about Kerry all day. But the maddening thing is that, far from showing any kind of real remorse for his statement, Kerry’s wearing the backlash as a badge of honor. Today the Boston Globe noted that Kerry’s campaign has sent out fundraising letters noting that the Senator “took on Tom DeLay and Rush Limbaugh”. Of course, Kerry was criticized by many Republicans for his intemperate remarks, but he highlights DeLay and Limbaugh solely because they did not serve in the military. Thus, it gives Kerry the perfect opening to remind everybody (once again) that he served in Vietnam. Furthermore, in Kerry’s playground logic, this means that he’s rubber and his critics are glue.

This theory of patriotic immunity from criticism was churlishly driven home today by the New York Times’ one-man bias-machine Paul Krugman. In his column, Kruggy somehow ties together Kerry’s military service with the need to raise taxes. But first he gushes, in a statement that could have been prepared in Boston, “Mr. Kerry, a decorated veteran, has met that test [of sacrifice]. Most of his critics haven’t.”

Let’s review for a second. In a speech to a partisan crowd, John Kerry said “What we need now is not just a regime change in Saddam Hussein and Iraq, but we need a regime change in the United States.” The point of criticism here – gentlemen pay attention – is the statement of moral equivalency between Saddam Hussein and our country’s President. It is inappropriate at best, and acidly malicious at worst. For someone aspiring to the Presidential office, it’s a striking insult to compare our constitutional republic to a brutal Mideast dictatorship.

Imagine for a moment that John Kerry said something like: “I’d like to replace the current resident of the White House the same as our brave troops are trying to replace Saddam Hussein.” This statement is nearly synonymous with his original statement – is this too far? How about if the Senator said: “We should drop a bomb on George Bush just like we did to Saddam Hussein” - how about now? Has this stepped over the line from loyal opposition to treasonous malignancy? Would Paul Krugman rush to the parapets to defend the Senator from those who would criticize his remarks?

The point here is that, yes, you can say whatever you want in America. But you also have to bear the consequences when taken to task (see: Dixie Chicks). If Kerry had retracted or modified his remark, it would have been long forgotten by now (especially in light of more newsworthy events). But instead he tried a rhetorical ju-jitsu move by wrapping himself in his Vietnam war flag and turning the patriotism question back on his attackers. If John Kerry had the courage of his convictions, he would explain what he meant by the “regime change” remark. If he was a true leader, he wouldn’t retreat into his own self-styled cocoon every time a civilian dared to question his positions. Kerry’s statement may not have been unpatriotic, but it certainly was un-Presidential.

Heard about this on NPR: a site where parents of U.S. Marines can exchange information and support. Marine Moms (very nicely designed!)

Monday, April 07, 2003

I have to go to sleep - but the Command Post never rests. Check often until you succumb to Morpheus.
This could be the news we've been waiting for

MSNBC has owned this story:

BASED ON an intelligence source on the ground in Baghdad, U.S. military officials were confident that Saddam and his sons, Uday and Qusay, were attending a meeting in the neighborhood, senior officials said.

Officials quickly called in Air Force jets to strike the location Monday with four GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition weapons, the 2,000-pound smart bombs known as “bunker busters.” Diplomatic officials and officials at the Pentagon told NBC News that they were highly confident that they killed everyone at the meeting.

Today is April 7th.
Very early reports coming in - Drudge only has a headline - but MSNBC is running hard with a story that Saddam Hussein and his sons were targeted in a bombing today. Andrea Mitchell (on TV) said there was very good intelligence and that four bunker-buster bombs were dropped on the site where a meeting was thought to take place. So far just one blurb on The Command Post...stay tuned.
Marcus at Conservative Observer sheds some light on John Kerry's old Vietnam Veterans against the War record. It's not pretty.
Extra-legal conspirators at Vokokh

Eric Muller of Is That Legal? is guest-blogging at the Volokh Conspiracy and puts in this thought-provoking post about Antonin Scalia’s line of questioning during oral arguments for the University of Michigan case.
John Kerry’s psyche-out

I’m starting to think Senator Splunge is really mental. Even after the backlash from his “regime change” comment, he continues to make statements that are inane, self-contradictory, and illogical. Can he make up his mind on any issue? Here’s the latest fence-straddling from the Boston Herald:

During the reception, Kerry was asked several times to explain his vote in favor of a resolution last fall authorizing Bush to use force against Iraq, if necessary.

``What I voted for was to provide a strong show of the possibility of using force as a last resort, which is what it says, and after appropriate diplomacy has been exhausted,'' he said.

Kerry said he and a number of senators who voted for it ``believed that was the best way to avoid going to war.'' [Emphasis added]

“Good heavens, when I voted in favor of the war resolution, I had no idea that President Bush intended to, you know, go to war! I was trying to avoid that!”

Homer’s Brain: Don't you get it!? You gotta use reverse psychology!
Homer: Well, that sounds too complicated.
Homer’s Brain: Okay, don't use reverse psychology.
Homer: All right, I will!

Please let this be true: Report: U.S. Finds Missiles with Chemical Weapons

It quoted the source as saying new U.S. intelligence data showed the chemicals were "not just trace elements."

The source is NPR, which may be a little more reputable than Debka.
Update from The Economist

I like the British newsmagazine The Economist because, since it resides outside of the American media, it can be regarded as a “disinterested” observer. This update from today “Into Baghdad” is a good overview, but I take issue with this statement:

Any serious fighting in Baghdad could have two consequences. Many more coalition soldiers—perhaps thousands—are likely to be killed. And, in spite of all the talk of liberation, thousands of Iraqi civilians could also die. The allies have shown that they can strike legitimate targets with precision. But taking on Iraqi forces dispersed around the city will involve individuals making quick decisions, and inevitably mistakes, about whom to shoot. [Emphasis added]

I’ve been the gloomy Gus of the office lately by guessing that the war in Iraq will extend into May, much to the derision of my co-workers. But c’mon Economist! Thousands are likely to be killed? There’s not a bit of evidence thus far to indicate this fate will befall coalition troops, unless Crazy Saddam launches chemical weapons. Even then, the allied troops have been well-trained to handle that contingency.

Things are moving fast now. The regime is off-balance, and control is clearly slipping away (n.b., for example, the call to Iraqi soldiers separated from their regular units to join up with whatever regiments they can find.) With victory so close, the American forces will take extra care from here-on-out to keep both military and civilian casualties to a minimum.

We control the soap dish!

A classic rebuttal from Tim Blair - check it out.
"I said: The Americans are nowhere near Baghdad!"

Here's a humorous take from Slate's "Today's Papers":

Most of the papers notice the latest virtuoso performance by everybody's favorite propagandist, Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf. "They say they brought 65 tanks into center of city. I say to you this talk is not true. This is part of their sick mind," he explained from the roof the Palestine Hotel. "There is no presence of American infidels in the city of Baghdad at all." He had to speak loudly—to project over the noise of gunfire.

Chemical Ali confirmed dead.

Sunday, April 06, 2003

The Washington Post sez: More Say War Justified Without Finding Weapons
A growing majority of Americans believe the war in Iraq is justified even if the United States does not find weapons of mass destruction.
Don't play Texas Hold'em with Dubya

It probably wasn't an accident that at a press conference before the war with Iraq that President George W. Bush said that the members of the U.N. Security Council should "show their cards." Judging by his continuous out-maneuvering of those who stand in his way, Bush must have played a game or two of poker in his life. Look at that poker face: Bush is inarticulate, exasperated by details, he seems unfocused. But when a big hand is in play, it's always Dubya walking away with the pot.

Barely a couple of months into his Presidency, Bush pushed through his tax-cut bill and put the Democrats on the permanent defensive. They wanted to spend more (as usual) but didn't have the nuts to ask for the tax-cut repeal. On Iraq, Bush suckered the Democrats into overplaying their hand: the White House floated the idea that Congressional approval wasn't necessary to launch a military offensive in Iraq. Outraged Democrats, especially (soon-to-be-former) Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, demanded a vote. Every Senate Democrat up for re-election or planning to run for President (except for Paul Wellstone) voted for the Iraq war resolution. All throughout year-long buildup to the 2002 midterm elections, the Democrats failed to put together a coherent message on either the economy or Iraq – and they lost big. The day after the election, commentator David Brooks gushed:

Finally, never, ever, ever underestimate George W. Bush. It took me two years of being wrong about Bush before I finally got sick of it. The rest of the pundit class had better catch on. He is a leader of the first order. This historic night belongs to him.

Aussie blogger Tim Blair followed up with his thoughts on the "moron" Bush:

Thus far, the reputed idiot Bush has graduated from Yale and Harvard, made a stack of cash in the oil industry, become the first consecutive-term governor of Texas, defeated a dual-term VP for the Presidency, and led his party to yesterday's extraordinary triumphs. Let his opponents keep calling him stupid; if they do, within five years Bush will be King of England, the Pope, and world Formula One motor racing champion.

More recently, as the war with Iraq dragged beyond a week, the clarion call of "quagmire" sounded from the offices of the New York Times and the floor of the Congress. Once again it had all the appearances of Bush tricking his opponents into making public statements against the liberation of Iraq – before everything turned around. Here's Andrew Sullivan castigating tomorrow's NYT news analysis:

Johnny Apple - barely drawing breath after declaring absolute military disaster - now proclaims stunning political and military success, "taking the heat off" president Bush for his conduct of the war. Ta-da! Only on 43rd Street, of course, could anyone believe president Bush was in political trouble at any point in the last couple of weeks because of his conduct of the war. But there you have it. This is the newspaper, remember, that once declared the Enron scandal would have more historical salience than 9/11. On second paranoid Kausian 2am thought, of course, this Apple piece cannot but ne very bad news. The general rule in American journalism is that R. W. Apple (bested only by Arthur Schlesinger Jr.) is always, always wrong. God help the armed services in the next few days. Couldn't Howell have restrained Johnny until we'd actually won?

Now here's my prediction for the aftermath of Iraq: it will be maddening for the left-wingers in San Francisco and the New York Times to see free people in Baghdad cheering U.S. troops. So, then, the theory will be proposed that the U.S. war in Iraq will be illegitimate and a failure unless weapons of mass destruction are found. The pressure to find chemical and biological weapons will grow and grow and the enemies of Bush – driven more by personal animosity than principled opposition – will get louder and shriller until the attacks reach a critical mass. Then, only then, all will be revealed, and Bush will once again pull in the pot from those who bet against him and the United States.

Saturday, April 05, 2003

Take that!

A U.S. Army vehicle smashes a Saddam Hussein mosaic south of Baghdad Saturday. (AP)

Raw data: The President's radio address from this morning.
Western Massachusetts update - There are liberal professors here!

Hat tip to American Realpolitik for beating me to this story in the NY Times about how the anti-war faculty at Amherst College seems to be out-of-step with the students they mean to indoctrinate...I mean, "teach."

Certainly not all students are pro-war or all faculty anti. But "there's a much higher percentage of liberal professors than there are liberal students," said Ben Falby, the student who organized the protest at Amherst only to find that it had more professors than students.

The article implies that the students are on to the professors, who apparently care less about discussion and debate than they do about their own moral vanity.
John Kerry on the Ropes

So Kerry is now on record as believing that the President of the United States, which he aspires to be, should kowtow to the opinions of the U.N. fancy-pants, rather than act in behalf of American interests. I can flat guarantee you that the American people will not put a person who holds that belief in the White House.

Best non-war news I've heard all day.

Friday, April 04, 2003


Pejman reads my mind on Senator Splunge:

John Kerry, feeling the heat from the backlash over his calls for "regime change," is now petulantly firing back at anyone who has the temerity to point out that his statements were over the top and hyperbolic. As near as I can tell, Kerry's basic response is that no one has a right to question him because he fought in Vietnam.

Kerry would have been wise to back down and admit his rhetoric was overheated. Now he's looking peevish and a little silly - not good for a president.
Life during Wartime

Just posted on Blogcritics: my review of "Dear Mr. Lincoln: Letters to the President". It wasn't just waiting for war news and posing for the $5 for Abraham Lincoln; he had to answer his mail, too. Check it out.
Denise Rich for

Here's a blurb from today's NY Post "Page Six" section:

Things were calmer uptown at Denise Rich's Fifth Avenue aerie where she and Russell Simmons hosted a benefit for the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.

Yes, that Denise Rich, wife of fugitive Clinton-pardon-recipient Marc Rich

Let's recall a moment in time from Denise Rich's past, back when she won the Slate "Whopper of the Week" award.

To emphasize this last point, Chatterbox, a known Democrat, kicks off "Whopper of the Week" with a Democrat's lie: Clinton fund-raiser Denise Rich's denial, through a spokesman, that she had anything to do with Bill Clinton's last-minute pardon of her ex-husband, the fugitive commodities trader Marc Rich.

"Denise was totally taken by surprise. It's not something she really wanted. It's not something she would have used her clout for."
--Denise Rich's publicist, Bobby Zarem, as reported in the Jan. 23 New York Daily News.

"Exile for 17 years is enough. Marc has made the lives of countless others better."
--Dec. 6 letter from Denise Rich to Bill Clinton, as quoted in the Jan. 23 New York Times.

Thus proving once again that the ultimate oxymoron is "Ethical Clintonite" (not to be confused with "Ethnic Clintonite" like our first black president.)
America before New Hampshire

David Skinner takes down the Beastie Boys in today’s version of “Stardumb”, but saves some powder for John Kerry:

In the other story making the rounds, Senator John Kerry (our first politician!) qualifies for honorary mention in the Stardumb roll by telling voters in New Hampshire: "What we need now is not just a change of regime in Saddam Hussein, but we need a regime change in the United States." The comment was part of a longer complaint in which he accused Bush of short-circuiting diplomatic efforts to resolve the Iraq problem, thus causing a "breach of trust" with diplomats and world leaders.

How inappropriate to be pissing on the president at the height of war. Moreover, how revolting that Kerry would equate Saddam and Bush, the Baath regime and the current occupants of the White House, the aims of a foreign war with his hope to become the next president, and so on.

Also, it seems entirely possible that John Kerry doesn't know the meaning of the word regime--he must think it means administration. If, by chance, John Kerry does know the meaning of the word regime, it's a wonder that, given his views, he holds any elective office under our constitutional regime.

Saddam's advice

"Hit them with force, resist them, o people of Baghdad, whenever they advance upon your city, and remain true to your principles, your faith and your honor."

Ooooohhhh!!! Hit them with force! That's been the problem all along.
Senator Splunge to critics: I’m a war hero

John Kerry has been taking heat from Republicans and editorial pages alike for his crude comparison of Saddam Hussein and President Bush (“we need a regime change in the United States.”) The New York Post called his intemperate remarks “The Attack of the Id” while the largest paper in New Hampshire ran an incredulous editorial called “Is Kerry Kidding? Or is his campaign really this lost?”

Ouch….how long until the NH primary? But Senator Splunge has answered his critics the same way he answers, well, everything: I’m a war hero, dammit. From the Boston Globe: "In response to the Republican criticism, the Kerry campaign compared the war credentials of his Republican critics with those of the senator."

Kerry apparently endorses the idea that a black person cannot be called a racist, only women can talk about abortion, and a war hero cannot be criticized for statements regarding war. Or foreign policy in general. Or health care (which he received in Vietnam). Or agricultural policy (Kerry walked through rice paddies). And so on.

Not to take anything away from Kerry’s Vietnam history, but this self-martyrdom is only going to go so far. Two words, Senator: Bob Kerrey.

Michael Kelly

There's a report on the sometimes-wrong Free Republic saying the Washington Post contributor and Atlantic Monthly editor Michael Kelly was killed outside the Baghdad airport. No independent confirmation yet. Original source listed as ABC Radio.

Michael Kelly's Washington Post archive, including his last article "Across the Euphrates."

Update: Damn....the Washington Post confirms.

Michael Kelly, the Atlantic Monthly editor-at-large and Washington Post columnist who abandoned the safety of editorial offices to cover the war in Iraq, has been killed while traveling with the Army's 3rd Infantry Division.

My prayers go out to the family of this great writer and editor. He'll be missed.
Fred Kaplan in Slate has an article filed late yesterday titled “The Final Days: Signs and Portents of Saddam’s Impending Demise.” Interesting…and encouraging.

Update: Well, Saddam apparently just showed up on TV making some contemporary remarks. But that doesn't mean you can skip the Slate article.
Blair’s War

There was a fascinating Frontline special on PBS last night called “Blair’s War” about how British Prime Minister Tony Blair tried to walk a thin line between the United States and Europe over Iraq. A couple of things stood out:

- Blair giving a speech the night after the biggest protest march in England’s history saying that he doesn’t mean to be unpopular, but sometimes that’s the price of leadership and the cost of conviction.
- One of the commentators (I think it was the Washington Post correspondent) saying that, by opposing the war, Jacques Chirac was receiving the highest approval ratings of his career and he was “intoxicated” by it.
- The French ambushed Colin Powell at the United Nations in January by calling a meeting supposedly about terrorism and then using the Security Council to denounce the U.S. military build-up

If you can find when the show will be repeated on PBS (check the link above), I highly recommend it. Blair has been a true ally of the United States by standing firm against his own party and British public opinion to do what he believes is right.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

I'm gonna be a happy idiot and struggle for the legal tender

Janeane Garofalo is leading the pack at Famous Idiot, just ahead of George Clooney and Martin Sheen. Go and vote for your favorite Hollywood Halfwit.

Speaking of which: check out Hollywood Halfwits too.
Susanna at Cut on the Bias links to a timely poll about how people are getting news on the war - 4% say "weblogs". But the poll has a margin of error of +/-4%, so you can draw your own conclusions.
Our president

Bush sounded decidedly more upbeat about the war's progress than he has in the past, even beginning his speech with a touch of black humor: "There's no finer sight than to see 12,000 U.S. Marines and Corpsmen unless you happen to be a member of the Iraqi Republican Guard."
Tom the Minuteman takes apart Senator Splunge, John Kerry, who promised to keep his mouth shut on the war...unless he doesn't.
God bless you, “Shut Up” man!

Rocky Mountain News article about Pearl Jam desperate to get some Dixie Chicks-style attention

Incensed fans walked out of Pearl Jam's concert Tuesday after lead singer Eddie Vedder impaled a mask of President Bush on a microphone stand, then slammed it to the stage

Before Do the Evolution, Vedder told the crowd the tale of a Vietnam vet who expressed severe reservations about war in Iraq to Vedder. The singer was incensed when someone in the crowd yelled, "Shut up!"

"Did someone just say, 'Shut up'? I don't know if you heard about this thing called freedom of speech, man. It's worth thinking about it, because it's going away," Vedder said. "In the last year of being able to use it, we're sure as (expletive) going to use it and I'm not gonna apologize."

This is the last year for freedom of speech? Blogs too?

Pearl Jam manager Kelly Curtis couldn't be reached for comment. The Seattle band plays Oklahoma City tonight.

Oh, he’s sure to get a warm reception there

Check out this great picture at Weekend Pundit. A simple counter-protest aimed at some war protesters nitwits.
The NY Times is intellectually honest….a bit

From today’s New York Times “Corrections” page:

A front-page article on Tuesday about criticism voiced by American military officers in Iraq over war plans omitted two words from an earlier comment by Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, commander of V Corps. General Wallace had said (with the omission indicated by uppercasing), "The enemy we're fighting is A BIT different from the one we war-gamed against."

I don’t view this as a minor mistake. The first version has the connotation that the general was shocked or surprised by the nature of the enemy; the correct version “a BIT different” take a more positive tone in the line of “adjustments need to be made.” I don’t want to make too much about this, but it was this kind of error that launched a thousand “quagmire” articles.
Kim Jong Il sleeps with the triplets?

John Derbyshire makes an interesting point on the Corner today:

Kim Jong Il has not been seen in public since February. Has missed meetings he normally attends. The Washington Times says he's probably channel-surfing the War. I bet that "leadership strike" against Saddam on March 19th has given him nightmares.

Whether or not that “decapitation” attack worked on the first night of the war (and more and more I’m thinking it did), if the propaganda effect causes tyrants around the world to go radio-silent, it was worth it.
Best line of the day from (natch) Lileks

When the US leaves Iraq, it will have freed the Shiites, left the mosques intact, and built not one Christian church. We will import no missionaries, distribute no Bibles. The most important accomplishment of the Latter-Day Crusaders will be the destruction of a reign based on secular idolatry.

Sometimes I think the reason America is so despised in some quarters is that we fail to live up to other peoples’ worst expectations

Ain't we stinkers? Well....I guess we're not.

From the April 2 Centcom briefing

Q Mike Tobin, Fox News. We're hearing scattered reports about a weaponry and arms cache being found in a school. Could you elaborate on that?

GEN. BROOKS: We found this actually in a number of places. In a number of towns, as we go into places where the paramilitaries have been operating, the regime death squads, two things seem to be an emerging pattern. First is putting your weapons and weapons caches inside of schools, with children nearby in many cases. That's happened several times.

The second is using hospitals as a place to do command and control, to hide. In some cases we'll find military equipment positioned nearby, as in the case of the first hospital we encountered on the outskirts of Nasiriyah, where there was a T-55 tank parked right outside of it, we believe likely to try to trigger a coalition response and then turn that into something that says we're attacking hospitals.

The pattern is very clear at this point. We've seen it throughout the country. We've shown you evidence of how these buildings are being used. Fundamentally, it is against the laws of armed conflict -- absolutely against the laws of armed conflict. We don't do that. We will not do that. And we still remain very discriminating in our selection of targeting because of the way this regime is doing its work. That's really what we're seeing

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Irony alert

LONDON - Edwin Starr, the soul singer who produced No. 1 Motown hits such as "War," died of an apparent heart attack Wednesday, his manager said. He was 61.