Saturday, March 29, 2003

You have probably already heard about the first suicide bombing carried out by Iraq against US troops. The Iraqi government says that this will be routine in the future. This development will also help cement the dubious link that the Bush administration has suggested exists between Al Qaeda and Iraq. Now people will be even more willing to believe this canard.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

From Robert Jensen of UT-Austin's Journalism school, via Cursor:

"After the first question, it was clear Simon expected me to follow a script that would go something like this: Yes, I’m against this war, but I know that Saddam Hussein is such a monster that nothing short of war can deal with him. Yes, I’m against this war, but now that the president has made this decision we should unify as a nation. Yes, I’m against this war, but -- in the end -- I realize that I should acknowledge that I am a naïve and foolish person who can’t deal the harsh realities of a harsh world.

Well, I didn’t follow the script, and it wasn’t long before it was clear in Simon’s voice that he wasn’t pleased....

read the rest here

Monday, March 24, 2003

According to MuslimWakeUp.Com, an Iraqi farmer single-handedly shot down a US Apache helicopter with his "ancient, Czek-made[sic] rifle." No mention of the fate of the two(?) airmen who were on board. (via
According to the Independent, 77 Iraqi civilians died in the battle to capture Basra.

I'll admit Michael Moore is not my poster boy for free speech, given how sanctomonious and truculent he tends to be, to say nothing of the factual errors of Stupid White Men, but at least ABC didn't turn off the sound the way CBS threatened to at the grammys.
(you go, Cheryl Crow!)

Saturday, March 22, 2003

I tried to e-mail Atrios and James Capozzola(of Rittenhouse), but the e-mails kept bouncing back-- to the effect that their boxes were full.(They both have comcast, so maybe comcast users are having a problem...).
Courtesy Testify! , comes this link, excerpted briefly below:

"I had been 'loaned' from the senior staff and state planning officer of the Texas National Guard to the Department of the Army for a series of these special projects after angering George W. Bush by refusing to falsify readiness information and reports; confronting a fraudulent funding scheme which kept 'ghost' soldiers on the books for additional funding, and refusing to alter official personnel records [of Bush].
George W. Bush and his lieutenants were mad. They ordered that I not be accessed to emergency medical care services, healthcare benefits I earned by my official duty; and I was withheld from medical care for 154 days..."

Friday, March 21, 2003

Daily Kos says:

Shock and Awe
Pretty freakin' awesome, I must admit. And it looks like it's been relatively confined to military and government targets. But let's face it, those buildings are all empty. I remember earlier this week a story on Iraqi government workers taking out all valuable equipment (computers, faxes, etc.) out of such buildings since they knew they were top targets.

So it's loud, it's bright, the ground shakes, perhaps some Iraqi military personnel die and it makes Americans feel good. But it's also billions of dollars of ordnance dropped on empty buildings, and it's loud, and bright, is hitting empty targets, undoubtedly killed civilians (there's always collateral damage), and is not playing well in the rest of the world.

And one perhaps unintended consequence -- the vast majority of Iraqi defenders spread out over Baghdad will survive the bombardment, emboldened by the fact they survived the most intense aerial bombardment in the history of warfare. For all we know, this may actually boost morale...

A nearly three year old story isn't neccessarily the best source of info on Carnivore, but it struck me as concise and readable.
Why aren't liberal bloggers talking about the war? Are they afraid of being wrong? For my part, I'd like to be wrong. Rumsfeld just announced that one soldier was killed in combat, in addition to the British and American soldiers killed in a helicopter accident. The Guardian said it was two, which may be an honest error. I'm willing, to an extent, to trust the administration on things like that, but I'm still suspicious that the net effect of Gulf War II will be a change from one Ba'ath dictatorship to another, more amenable one, that is just as brutal to its people, but has declared its chemical, biological, and nuclear programs dead. But what's to stop them from starting over after US forces, their new pals, leave? Let me make myself clear-- I'm not suggesting some kind of immutable flaw in the Arab character, but rather, that the Bush II administration is almost as afraid of a really democratic regime in Iraq as the Saudis are. As I said, I hope I'm wrong . Since this war is on, let's support our troops, as opposed to the administration that sent them there, and keep our eye on said administration.
Courtesy the mighty Atrios:

The Onion describes itself as "America's finest news source," and it's not an idle boast. On Jan. 18, 2001, the satirical weekly bore the headline "Bush: Our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is finally over," followed by this mock quotation: "We must squander our nation's hard-won budget surplus on tax breaks for the wealthiest 15 percent. And, on the foreign front, we must find an enemy and defeat it."

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Quoting the quoter:

To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. ~ Theodore Roosevelt (1918)

via Lisa English of Ruminate This! who also mentions a Rittenhouse post on the furrowed brow. Dang. Oh, well, I'll go read it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

The Guardian has a series of e-mails from Rachel Corrie, the American activist who was killed by the Iraelis on Sunday.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Christopher Allbritton of Back to Iraq

has an excellent post on the 48 hour speech:

"Basra in the south will be an early test of liberation, that’s for sure, because video of cheering Iraqis hugging Doughboys and GIs, tossing rice (a traditional Arab gesture of welcome) and roses, will be beamed to a world in an attempt show the world the American eagle’s embrace is warm and loving, never mind the talons.

I’m not saying Iraq won’t be better off without Saddam. It very well might, as long as it doesn’t collapse into civil war and thuggery the moment [Dubya] gets distracted by something else shiny..."

from Reich.Com/tendentious, via the always valuable
Skimble. (The event in question occurred on Sunday the 16th.)

An American woman was killed today by a bulldozer enforcing the Israeli policy of destroying Palestinians' homes in Gaza.
Witnesses said Rachel Corrie, 23, from Olympia, Washington, was trying to stop the bulldozer from tearing down a building in the Rafah refugee camp, witnesses said, when she was run over. She was taken to Najar hospital in Rafah, where she died, said Dr. Ali Moussa, a hospital administrator. Greg Schnabel, 28, from Chicago, said the protesters were in the house of Dr. Samir Masri. "Rachel was alone in front of the house as we were trying to get them to stop," he said. "She waved for bulldozer to stop and waved. She fell down and the bulldozer kept going. We yelled 'stop, stop', and the bulldozer didn't stop at all. It had completely run over her and then it reversed and ran back over her," he said...


48 hours
Another speech from Dubya, with his studied furrowed-brow-look that he no doubt practices in the mirror--
GWB:"how's that?"
Laura:"That's very nice dear."
-- but now we're going to war Thursday night, or maybe a little sooner. No mention of Al Quaeda, apart from the oblique reference to our needing to be on guard against an increased likelyhood of domestic terrorism due to the president's ruinous blowhard diplomacy. I'd like to believe that Bush's concern for the oil wells not being damaged "because they belong to the Iraqi people", but nothing this miserable commander in chief has done or said gives me any reassurance that he means it; as it is, I've used the word Orwellian too many times in referring to this administration's rhetoric.
The army forcasts a little over a quarter-of-a-million Iraqi soldiers may surrender, and they refer to them, somewhat Orwellianly, as "EPWs", or Enemy Prisoners of War". Maybe this is to distinguish from western journalists they mean to muzzle.
Another important post, from The Sideshow.
the article linked is at Time magazine's European edition, and no, it didn't appear in the domestic version.
Another important post, this one fromGail-online. regarding "Patriot Act II" and related matters.
(courtesy Avedon Carol of The Sideshow.)

Incidentally, according to my web stats, someone from the State department browsed my blog for about 22 and a half minutes in the wee hours of Thursday morning. Maybe someone out there has decided that I'm a troublemaker.
Should I be flattered or concerned?
An important post from Where is Raed?
courtesy Body and Soul.

some excerpts below:

No one inside Iraq is for war (note I said war not a change of regime), no human being in his right mind will ask you to give him the beating of his life, unless you are a member of fight club that is, and if you do hear Iraqi (in Iraq, not expat) saying “come on bomb us” it is the exasperation and 10 years of sanctions and hardship talking. There is no person inside Iraq (and this is a bold, blinking and underlined inside) who will be jumping up and down asking for the bombs to drop. We are not suicidal you know, not all of us in any case.
I think that the coming war is not justified (and it is very near now, we hear the war drums loud and clear if you don’t then take those earplugs off!). The excuses for it have been stretched to their limits they will almost snap...

... a word about Islamic fundis/wahabisim/qaeda and all that.
Do you know when the sight of women veiled from top to bottom became common in cities in Iraq? Do you know when the question of segregation between boys and girls became red hot? When tribal law replaced THE LAW? When Wahabi became part of our vocabulary?
It only happened after the Gulf War. I think it was Cheney or Albright who said they will bomb Iraq back to the stone age, well you did. Iraqis have never accepted religious extremism in their lives. They still don’t. Wahabis in their short dishdasha are still looked upon as sheep who have strayed from the herd. But they are spreading. The combination of poverty/no work/low self esteem and the bitterness of seeing people who rose to riches and power without any real merit but having the right family name or connection shook the whole social fabric. Situations which would have been unacceptable in the past are being tolerated today...

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Good News for Dubya, Bad News For Peace:
It looks like the French are softening their opposition to Bush's war, according to The Guardian. (UK)

Postscript on 3/17: Well I guess Dubya wasn't listening.
Internet Social Studies:
From a Yahoo message board posting regarding Banks's stay from the supreme court---
(unedited for grammar, etc.)

OK.. i'm trying to get a read on your personality. I think you might be uneducated..yes feel that..dropped out of 8th much study time it work at a superlube now and for fun spray axial grease in your pants before lunch....ok ..keep going...i see a trailor park and you living with your sister and five nieces and nephews where recently caught with peanut butter on your face and the dog licking it some more...let everyone feel your magic.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

According to NBC news, Banks has just received a stay of execution. Their story quotes a prosecutor as saying that the defense has never asserted Banks's innocence, which is technically-- and "Orwellianly"-- True enough, technically, i.e., that the quote is an accurate representation of the words of the prosecutor, without mentioning that the content of the quote is blatantly false. The reporter simply says Banks may have been"wrongly accused", never saying may be innocent of the charge, which again, he may be.
I've been scouring the web trying to see if there's news on a reprieve for Texas death row inmate Delma Banks, who is set to be executed tonight in Huntsville, and may well be innocent of the 1980 murder of which he's been convicted. So far, nothing. Jeralyn Merritt's Talk Left has some additional info on Banks's case, including this

"Prosecutors did not tell the jury -- or Banks' defense lawyer -- that one of the two key witnesses was a paid police informant, Kendall said.
Before dying of cancer, the witness, Robert Farr, told defense investigators who tracked him down in California that he was paid by police to help incriminate Banks and had lied during the trial. Farr signed a sworn affidavit to that effect.
Farr's recantation was enough to persuade a U.S. district judge in 2000 to order Banks' death sentence overturned. Three judges on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, however, overruled that decision.
Veteran BBC reporter Kate Adie tells an interviewer on Irish national radio that a senior pentagon official has told her that independent reporters may have their satelite uplinks targeted when the war comes. (Via Sort of along the same lines, Robert Fisk of the Obsever (UK) notes CNN's new script approval policy.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Perhaps this would be a good time to read or reread Mark Twain's "War Prayer". I understand he wrote it in 1904-05, leaving it unpublished at his death. As far as I know it's in the public domain---

The War Prayer

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The
country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned
the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands
playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing
and spluttering;

on every hand and far down the receding and
fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of
flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched
down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the
proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering
them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by;

nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot
oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and
which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of
applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the
churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country,

and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause
in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener.
It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash
spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt
upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry
warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank
out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came--next day the battalions would
leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were
there, their young faces alight with martial dreams--visions of the
stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the
flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping
smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender!

Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored,
submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their
dear ones, proud,
happy, and envied by the neighbors and fiends who had no sons
and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for
the flag, or , failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The
service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was
read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst
that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose,
with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that
tremendous invocation

*God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest!
Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!*

Then came the "long" prayer. None could remember the like of
it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language.
The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and
benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young
soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic
work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour
of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and
confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the
foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable
honor and glory--

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and
noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister,
his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head
bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his
shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to
ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he
made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the
preacher's side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the
preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued with his
moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in
fervent appeal, "Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord
our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step
aside--which the startled minister did--and took his place.
During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with
solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep
voice he said:

"I come from the Throne--bearing a message from
Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the
stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the
prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such
shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained
to you its import--that is to say, its full import. For it is like
unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than
he who utters it is aware of--except he pause and think.

"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he
paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two--one
uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who
heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder
this--keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon
yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a
neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain
upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly
praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not
need rain and can be injured by it.

"You have heard your servant's prayer--the uttered part
of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other
part of it--that part which the pastor--and also you in your hearts-
-fervently prayed silently. And ignorantlyy and unthinkingly?
God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the
victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. the *whole* of
the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words.
Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for
victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which
follow victory--*must* follow it, cannot help but follow it.
Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of
the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our
hearts, go forth to battle--be Thou near them! With them--in
spirit--we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved
firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their
soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their
smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us
to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their
wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble
homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of
their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn
them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the
wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst,
sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter,
broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge
of the grave and denied it--for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord,
blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter
pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their
tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!
We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of
Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that
are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts.

(*After a pause.*) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire
it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!"

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic,
because there was no sense in what he said.

New post-- guaranteed 100% Suellentrop free...
This story from CNN via Reuters disappeared from their main page shortly after it was initially posted. I'll try to find other sources later. Just in case it disappears, here's the story:

U.S. diplomat resigns over Iraq war plans
Monday, March 10, 2003 Posted: 7:09 PM EST (0009 GMT)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- A U.S. diplomat resigned from government service Monday in protest at President Bush's preparations to attack Iraq, the second to do so in less than a month.

John H. Brown, who joined the U.S. diplomatic corps in 1981 and served in London, Prague, Krakow, Kiev, Belgrade and Moscow, said in a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell made available to the media: "I cannot in good conscience support President Bush's war plans against Iraq.

"Throughout the globe the United States is becoming associated with the unjustified use of force. The president's disregard for views in other nations, borne out by his neglect of public diplomacy, is giving birth to an anti-American century," the diplomat added.

Brown has recently been attached to the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University in Washington. Immediately before that, he was cultural attache at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

A senior U.S. diplomat based in Athens, political counselor John Brady Kiesling, 45, resigned in protest at the Bush administration's policy on Iraq last month.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

I got an e-mail from Chris Suellentrop, who asked me to post it on my blog:

"Your accusation is reprehensible and without merit. Your evidence is so weak that I'm not going to bother with rebutting it,
beyond these three points: 1) It's hardly unusual that two people would share similar conclusions when summarizing the content
of a book that both of the people have read; 2) There is no similarity between the language of the quotes you cite; 3) I have
never read the Amazon reviews of Pollack's book. All that I know about them is what you posted on your site.

I would appreciate it if you posted this in its entirety on your blog. I'm not going to be silent while someone assassinates my
character and my reputation.


Chris Suellentrop"

I do see similarity in the quotes in question, but I realize that this is a highly subjective matter, and I am perfectly willing to believe that said similarities were coincidental. It was never my intention to cause harm to Suellentrop's reputation, and I sincerely hope I have not done so. In addition, I will remove the title from the post in question.
151 posts in less than 12 hours thanks to a mention by the mighty Atrios! I don't mind telling you I'm flabbergasted. I was mildly disappointed not to get any mail regarding my post, but this is small beer, as they say. (I did get an unsolicited e-mail promising to sell me the latest in spam-filtering software, which is kind of amusing.)

Anyway, upon reflection, maybe Atrios/Eschaton is right-- perhaps it's more apt to say that Suellentrop was highly likely to have been influenced by Ratliff's review rather than to suggest that he lifted it outright.
Here's the professor's review, just in case you have a hard time finding it on Amazon.[See previous post.] If Amazon or John Ratliff object to my posting it, I'll remove it; otherwise, since I make no money off this site and the ads you may see fund blogger and not Hugo, I cite fair use. (I don't agree with Ratliff about the French, but this is a minor quibble.)

"Excellent case for invasion, but maybe not this one, February 19, 2003

Reviewer: John Ratliff (see more about me) from Santa Clara, CA United States
I just finished reading The Threatening Storm, and Mr. Pollack makes a powerful and richly documented case for regime
change in Iraq at the earliest feasible date. As he says, invasion does seem like the best of a set of bad choices, if it is done with
the proper preparation. And there's the rub: in Pollack's terms, several essential elements are missing at the present moment to
proceed with invasion:

1) He sees it as essential that there is a sense that the war against Al Queda is well in hand. He specifically says that we should
be beyond periodic alerts for terrorist attack in the U.S. Thank God I have plenty of duct tape.

2) Also essential from his perspective is at least a ceasefire in the Iraeli-Palestinian conflict with real positive momentum towards
a settlement. We have never been further from this, with no daylight showing between Bush and Sharon.

3) The U.S. electorate must be prepared for the burden of nation building in Iraq. According to Pollack, this would involve an
occupation of over five years, with at least 200,000 troops initially, tapering down to about 100,000 after five years, and with a
semi-permanent presence of at least a division. He says the model must be Bosnia, not Afghanistan.

These are, from his perspective, essential criteria for a successful outcome for an invasion of Iraq. I'll let you be the judge as to
whether these have been met.

(BTW, I think he would have advised focusing on these issues, rather than seeking Security Council support. His view of the
fecklessness of the French is very prescient.)"

In his March 5th Slate article Does the "invade Iraq" book say what you think it does? Chris Suellentrop says that Kenneth Pollack's The Threatening Storm is not so much an endorsement of Bush's brand of warmongering but of a different sort of Invasion of Iraq, the key points being,

1. "that Bush should focus on al-Qaida before Saddam,"
2."that Bush should make a more serious effort to reduce the violence between Israelis and Palestinians before invading Iraq"
3. "that Bush's linkage of al-Qaida and Saddam is facile and unconvincing"
4."that Bush's inattention to the rebuilding of Afghanistan bodes poorly for the reconstruction of Iraq..."

those quotes are from Suellentrop, from March 5th. But if you go to's entry on The Threatening Storm, you will find an amateur review by John Ratliff, dated Febrary 19th, that says,

1.[Pollack] "sees it as essential that there is a sense that the war against Al Queda is well in hand.[before we attack Iraq] He specifically says that we should be beyond periodic alerts for terrorist attack in the U.S."

2) "Also essential from his perspective is at least a ceasefire in the Iraeli-Palestinian conflict with real positive momentum towards
a settlement. We have never been further from this, with no daylight showing between Bush and Sharon."

3)" The U.S. electorate must be prepared for the burden of nation building in Iraq. According to Pollack, this would involve an
occupation of over five years, with at least 200,000 troops initially, tapering down to about 100,000 after five years, and with a
semi-permanent presence of at least a division. He says the model must be Bosnia, not Afghanistan."

and if that isn't enough, compare Suellentrop's last sentence with Ratliff's title:

Suellentrop: "But The Case for Invading Iraq isn't the case for Bush's invasion."

Ratliff: " Excellent case for invasion, but maybe not this one"

Ratliff, incidentally, isn't just some yahoo with a blog ( like for example, me), but a sociology professor at Santa Clara University in California, although he is too modest to list this in his Amazon "about you page." See Ratliff's review and Suellentrop's article, and see what you think.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

Steve Baum at Ethel the Blog excerpts this Bill Moyers interview with Chris Hedges. It reminded me of the revulsion I felt when I saw the latest Newsweek cover with George W praying. ("Please God, let me have my war?")