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March 14, 2003
Not that it matters at this point...
...but Wasted Irony fights the good fight, trying to sort out the truth from the lies concerning Iraq.
Disrespecting the dead
Hey, greatest generation--your sacrifices were all in vain. Waste of time. Should have just stayed home.
That's what this says to me:
WASHINGTON - In another swipe at the French, a Florida congresswoman has proposed that the government pay for families who might want to bring home from France the remains of Americans who fought and died in the world wars.
I don't know for sure that this woman is officially the Stupidest Person in Government, but she's certainly in the running.
A short history of the conservative movement
This looks like it's worth spending some time on.
Our heroes, the Democrats
Short story: "partial birth abortion" is a canard, a wedge issue, a way for the anti-abortion crowd to inch closer to their objective through stealth rather than honest debate. It's the equivalent of marijuana legalization advocates who also happen to be really, really enthused about the many practical applications of hemp fiber in everyday life.
And they just won an important victory. The vote was 64-33, with 3 abstaining. Which means that it was the 16 Senate Democrats who voted "yes" who put this thing over the top.
For what it's worth, they were:
* * *
While we're on the topic, let's pause for a moment of appreciation for the Democrats who helped set the imminent war in motion, by voting last fall to authorize the use of force against Iraq:
March 13, 2003
New York Times deletes mention of police snipers at protest rally.
Anybody but Lieberman
In '04. Please.
However, Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut has been consistently raising the level of his attacks on Saddam and defending the need to "get rid of this tyrant." A Lieberman adviser told me, "You won't find anyone among our party's presidential candidates who supports Bush more on this issue, than Joe does."
Checking in with the GOP Team Leaders
The latest two missives from the astroturf factory:
I'm outraged by Ohio Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur's comparison of terrorist Osama bin Laden to our Founding Father George Washington. I agree with Paul Begala when he said, two nights ago on CNN's Crossfire, "Disgraceful. Absolutely disgraceful. You were right to call her on it and I just -- I can't defend it. I never will -- the notion that anybody could compare this murderer to our Founding Fathers is insane," Begala said.
The thing is...
...I'm old enough to remember that the first Gulf War wasn't "about the oil." Nooooo. It was about not tolerating naked aggression. It was about liberating the freedom-loving peoples of Kuwait. It was about Saddam being worse than Hitler. It was about many noble things, none of them spelled o-i-l, no sirree.
Of course, as soon as it was over, it was almost universally acknowledged to have been about the oil.
And now history repeats itself as, I guess, tragic farce. Michael Kinsley, who is not exactly a raving conspiracy theorist, seems to suspect that this one might also have, well, something to do with the oil:
You can argue that every which way, and people do. Pick your paranoia. Here's mine. The United States consumes about 20 million barrels of oil a day. Eleven million of those barrels are imported, but 9 million are from domestic oil production. Oil is oil, and when events—a war in the Middle East, or an OPEC ministers meeting in Vienna—affect the price of oil we import from Saudi Arabia and Iraq, it has the same effect on the oil produced in the United States.
And the LA Times informs us:
WASHINGTON -- Maybe it's a coincidence, but American and British oil companies would be long-term beneficiaries of a successful military offensive led by the United States and Britain to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
(Warning: horribly invasive registration procedure on that one.)
And then there's this from Mother Jones, which pretty much encapsulates what I mean when I say it's "about the oil":
In the geopolitical vision driving current U.S. policy toward Iraq, the key to national security is global hegemony -- dominance over any and all potential rivals. To that end, the United States must not only be able to project its military forces anywhere, at any time. It must also control key resources, chief among them oil -- and especially Gulf oil. To the hawks who now set the tone at the White House and the Pentagon, the region is crucial not simply for its share of the U.S. oil supply (other sources have become more important over the years), but because it would allow the United States to maintain a lock on the world's energy lifeline and potentially deny access to its global competitors. The administration "believes you have to control resources in order to have access to them," says Chas Freeman, who served as U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia under the first President Bush. "They are taken with the idea that the end of the Cold War left the United States able to impose its will globally -- and that those who have the ability to shape events with power have the duty to do so. It's ideology."
All links via Hesiod's invaluable blog.
Easier if you just go read it
Charlie Daniels sends out a really stupid email; a fellow Tennesseean responds; as does someone else in the Nashville music industry, who loses her job as a result. Too much work to summarize beyond that, but it's an interesting read.
Who'da thunk it?
Back when the Patriot Act was first being pushed through, I remember reading some ignoramus on some right wing message board somewhere sneeringly dismissing any concern that the administration might abuse its authority, as has happened so many times in the past. It stuck in my head for some reason, this willful refusal to learn anything from the lessons of history, as if we are all born anew each day and nothing which has come before can have any possible bearing on what will happen now.
As if, say, the Nixon administration was just some bizarre aberration, and not indicative of the need for strong checks and balances at all times.
Well here's something to send a chill down your spine: ABC News is reporting that the FBI intercepted correspondence from one journalist to another.
Government agencies opened a package mailed between two Associated Press reporters last September and seized a copy of an eight-year-old unclassified FBI lab report without obtaining a warrant or notifying the news agency.
More on the New York City resolution
There's a full story here.
NEW YORK - The City Council in New York, where 2,792 people died in the Sept. 11 terror attack, approved a resolution opposing war with Iraq (news - web sites) except as a last resort.
Funny how there seems to be more support for this war the further you get from Ground Zero.
I haven't posted on this because I try to avoid rumors, but they've really been flying lately. On the day of Bush's big press conference last week, Sean Hannity was suggesting it would be the topic of the evening. (And at least one of his guests was suggesting that liberals would consider it bad news--in case you needed any further evidence of how utterly twisted some of these people are).
The BBC has the story here. Make of it what you will.
Very, very happy...
...is a new (at least to me) blog I need to check in on more often. Go say hello.
There are actually quite a few I need to add to the links list. I've just had to spend so much time keeping this site online lately, I haven't really had the energy to worry about the minor adjustments. But soon, yes, very soon.
You have no idea...
...how evil some of the mail I get can be. It comes with the territory, of course; it's something you just learn to live with in this line of work--but I do want to thank everyone who takes the time to write in with kinder thoughts, or to support the site through donations or purchases. It makes a difference.
Another war profiteer
You know that Halliburton is vying for the Iraq clean-up contract. Did you know that Dick Cheney is still on the Halliburton payroll--receiving "deferred compensation" of up to one million dollars a year?
All the pro-war news that fits, we print
William Greider on the Washington Post as Bush enabler:
We read numerous accounts of the blitzkrieg strategy Washington is devising for Baghdad, but odd little omissions occurred. When Osama's taped message surfaced recently, the Post story neglected to mention that the Al Qaeda leader also denounced Saddam as being among the "infidels." When prominent figures like Bill Clinton's Secretary of State Madeleine Albright or retired Gen. Anthony Zinni dissented from going to war, it was treated as no big deal. Despite some honorable exceptions, major media generally went limp on the march to war. The Post went star-spangled.
A small note of sanity
The Supreme Court stays an execution in Texas with ten minutes to spare.
It should be apparent to any reasonably bright seven year old...
...that we are being lied to. That this entire buildup to war is an exercise in propaganda and consensus building that makes Hermann Goering look like a piker.
After three months of inspections by the United Nations—underwritten by the threat of military force—we now know that those warnings were grossly exaggerated. Iraq has not reconstituted the extensive nuclear-weapons program dismantled during the previous round of U.N. inspections. The facilities in the U.S. satellite photographs are still in shambles, and aren’t being used for any illegal purpose. The aluminum tubes were unusable for uranium enrichment. And the documents that show Saddam tried to buy uranium from Africa, which were cited by the President in his State of the Union address? Oh, they were forged.
Update: Yes, I know that Goebbels was the propaganda minister. The Goering reference was a nod to that quote that's been all over lately: "Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."
Sometimes this town makes you proud
New York City has joined 140 other cities and counties in passing a resolution opposed to pre-emptive war.
"Coalition of the willing" reality check
March 12, 2003 | The international airport at Conakry, Guinea, is busier than usual this week, as diplomats from France, the U.S. and Britain continue to descend upon the West African capital for more discreet horse-trading in preparation for the expected United Nations vote on the Iraq resolution. Although Guinea has close financial ties to France and polls show that its Muslim population strongly opposes an Iraq invasion, the developing nation could gain $21.4 million in U.S. foreign aid this year in exchange for a vote in favor of the pending resolution.
March 12, 2003
America's laws aren't good enough for Richard Perle
He's suing--yes suing--Sy Hersh, in Britain, where he won't be hindered by that annoying First Amendment of ours.
Perle's not British. Hersh isn't British. The New Yorker certainly isn't a British publication. Perle just thinks he has a better chance of winning there:
Britain has the most repressive libel laws on earth. American companies come here to silence their critics - they know they have a better chance of suing a magazine in Britain than in the US, even if it only sells a tiny number of copies over here. In America, public figures seeking damages must show that the published information was maliciously fabricated. Here, by contrast, the burden of proof is carried by the defendant. Available only to the rich, our libel laws are a devastatingly effective means of silencing the cries of the excluded.
When I look back at my work over the years, there's usually a particular cartoon that sums up what I felt about the times we were going through. I have a feeling that "Outrage Overload" is going to be that cartoon for these years.
Here's the article Richard "I don't need your steenking Constitution" Perle doesn't want you to read. Link to it, pass it around, email it to your friends. That's one way these libel cases can backfire--by bringing more attention to the article than it would ever have received otherewise.
Oh hell, why not another unscientific poll?
Right now, it's 1249 votes against war, 502 in favor.
March 11, 2003
Once again, time to make your voice heard
Variations on this email are apparently making the rounds:
Hillary Clinton is taking a poll of her constituents regarding the war on Iraq. Please call today -- she may be considering taking a stand against the war. The number to call and express your opinion is: (212) 688-6262. You get a live person who asks if you're in favor or against.
It's not quite true--they're not holding any sort of poll. But they do answer the phone and they say they're getting a lot of calls--and that the results will be tallied and passed along to Senator Clinton. Took me about thirty seconds.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The cafeteria menus in the three House office buildings will change the name of "french fries" to "freedom fries," a culinary rebuke of France, stemming from anger over the country's refusal to support the U.S. position on Iraq.
Heh heh heh
On March 5, I mentioned a poll on Senator Frist's site, which was running 66% to 33% in favor of bombing Iraq (scroll down). Some other bloggers linked to the poll as well, and by the next day, the tally was 55% to 44% against the war. And the hits kept on coming:
"At 1:35 pm Washington DC time on March 6, the Frist site reported 31,118 responses to the war poll. Anti-war respondents (55%) had gained a clear majority over pro-war respondents (44.6%). (These figures do not quite add up to 100%, apparently because of the rounding method used by Senator Frist's staff.)
All of which inspired Frist to pull the poll from his website, claiming it had been "hacked." Actually, it was a one-visitor-one-vote poll, so I'd say it had been subject to active, participatory democracy. But we all know how Republicans feel about that sort of thing. (Complete story here.)
Update: the plot thickens.
Christ on a crutch
I am the author of "Bible Code II: The Countdown," mentioned by Bill Keller in his March 8 column. My Pentagon briefing about the Bible Code took place on Feb. 21 and was attended by top military intelligence officials. Both American and Israeli intelligence are now using the Bible Code to hunt for Osama bin Laden. What possible loss is there in that? Why do United States and Israeli intelligence take the code seriously? Not, as Mr. Keller writes, because "we're all a little too desperate these days," but because the Bible Code keeps coming true. We have a real enemy to find and fight, the one who attacked us: Osama bin Laden. Discouraging top American intelligence officials from checking out information that might lead to the Qaeda leader is bad for our country. We are in a war that must be won. MICHAEL DROSNIN New York, March 9, 2003
That sick feeling in the pit of your stomach is the realization that our future is quite literally in the hands of the certifiably insane.
Update: here's a link to Keller's article. And here's a bit more from a reader:
The author of those Bible Code books is, in all probability, insane. But he's amusing/cooky insane as opposed to dangerous/wild-eyed insane. I think I saw him on The 700 Club a few years ago and (I swear I saw this with my own two eyes) he told Robertson that he didn't believe in God and said that the Bible Code is the work of aliens. The look on Pat's face and the bum's rush he gave the guy made the hours I've wasted watching that show worth it in one instant.
(Man, it's nice to have this site working normally again.)
About that spying...
A few days ago, I linked to this story about the US spying on UN Security Council members, which inspired some of you to express your doubts as to its validity. Forcefully, in some cases.
Well, not that this will come as any great revelation to the members of this audience who are, shall we say, less idealistic when it comes to the Bush Administration, but the story has been confirmed, albeit in a kind of backhanded way:
An employee at the top-secret Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has been arrested following revelations in The Observer last weekend about an American 'dirty tricks' surveillance operation to win votes at the United Nations in favour of a tough new resolution on Iraq.
To put this as clearly as possible for our more slow-witted friends: if the story's a fake, why are people being arrested for leaking the information?
Our story so far
In case we haven't sufficiently hammered you with the implications of the various PNAC statements, here's a summary:
In this week's Observer, David Aaronovitch suggested that, before September 11, the Bush administration was "relatively indifferent to the nature of the regimes in the Middle East". Only after America was attacked was it forced to start taking an interest in the rest of the world.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are live.
Thanks to everyone who responded to my earlier (now deleted) tech question. It appears that it just takes a little time for all the various servers to catch up to the IP switch. We'll give it a few days to wait for the stragglers and then we'll be shutting down the old site entirely, so if your URL continues to read "www240.pair.com/tomtom/" on Thursday or Friday, please be sure to let me know so I don't unintentionally shut you out.
March 10, 2003
...the IP switch seems to be going through, but it's giving us Movable Type headaches, so there's a pretty good chance I won't be able to post for a day or so.
Sick of this yet? Believe me, I am.
A father's message
An essay sent to me by a reader, presented in its entirety.
The picture sits on top of my tv. A handsome young man, in a Marine Corps dress uniform, hat (cover, they call it in the military) tucked under his left arm, his right arm, right hand with white glove, encircling a stunning young woman. When the photo was taken at the Marine Corps Birthday Ball in 2002, my son Ben was enrolled at the University of Maryland while serving as a member of the Marine Corps Reserves. A little more than one year earlier, he had been at his reserve unit at Anacostia Barracks in Washington, D.C., on the morning of September 11, 2001, and saw the smoke rising across the Potomac in the West from the Pentagon crash site. After the tragedy of September 11th, he expected to be called up any day.
Sleepwalking toward Baghdad
Gary Kamiya in Salon:
I propose the following axiom: Those who did not believe and publicly state before Sept. 11 that Saddam Hussein represented an unacceptable threat to the United States have no credibility when they now argue that he does.
There's more, and it's good, so stop whining and go get a day pass.
Of course, if the administration were honest, if they treated us like growups, they'd acknowledge that most of the key players here--Rumsfeld, Cheney, Perle, Wolfowitz, et al--actually have been clamoring for a second gulf war since the mid nineties. But then they'd have to admit that this isn't a response to 9/11, abandon the useful emotional argument. Because arguing that the Saudis are an untrustworthy ally and we really need a more secure foothold in the region to ensure control over certain vital resources of which Iraq has a plentiful supply--well, somehow that sort of strategic geopolitical gamesmanship may not be quite enough to convince Americans to send their loved ones off to kill and die.
I went away but now I'm back
Many thanks to everyone who helped with my visit to St. Lawrence University, particularly Cathy Tedford, who curated the exhibition of my work currently on display in their gallery.
Site problems continue, but--he says, once again--should be fixed very, very soon. I think. In the meantime, I know some of you are having trouble with the back button due to the redirect, and I can only offer apologies and ask you to bear with us. We really are trying to get this thing resolved, I promise. (You can bookmark the current URL and come here directly and that will solve the problem for the time being, but keep in mind that as soon as the various technical and bureaucratic hurdles have been cleared, "thismodernworld.com" will once again be the official URL for this site, and at that point, I have no idea if "www240.pair.com/tomtom" will bring you here or not.)
Also, due to the patchwork nature of the site at the moment, I'm going to cheat a bit here and run several blog entries together in one post.
* * *
With 'em or agin' 'em
Richard Perle says that Sy Hersh is a terrorist.
BLITZER:Let me read a quote from the New Yorker article, the March 17th issue, just out now. "There is no question that Perle believes that removing Saddam from power is the right thing to do. At the same time, he has set up a company that may gain from a war." PERLE: I don't believe that a company would gain from a war. On the contrary, I believe that the successful removal of Saddam Hussein, and I've said this over and over again, will diminish the threat of terrorism. And what he's talking about is investments in homeland defense, which I think are vital and are necessary. Look, Sy Hersh is the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist, frankly. BLITZER: Well, on the basis of -- why do you say that? A terrorist? PERLE: Because he's widely irresponsible. If you read the article, it's first of all, impossible to find any consistent theme in it. But the suggestion that my views are somehow related for the potential for investments in homeland defense is complete nonsense. BLITZER: But I don't understand. Why do you accuse him of being a terrorist? PERLE: Because he sets out to do damage and he will do it by whatever innuendo, whatever distortion he can -- look, he hasn't written a serious piece since My Lai.
Richard Perle owes Sy Hersh an apology.
* * *
Everything you know is wrong
Further evidence that the rationales for this war--excuse me, this "possible war"--are built on a mountain of deceit:
A key piece of evidence linking Iraq to a nuclear weapons program appears to have been fabricated, the United Nations' chief nuclear inspector said yesterday in a report that called into question U.S. and British claims about Iraq's secret nuclear ambitions.
From Saturday's Washington Post, but it looks like the article is already walled off behind a pay archive. Here's another version of the same story from the Globe and Mail.
* * *
"More important than the Pentagon Papers"
From Norman Solomon's Media Beat column:
Three days after a British newspaper revealed a memo about U.S. spying on U.N. Security Council delegations, I asked Daniel Ellsberg to assess the importance of the story. "This leak," he replied, "is more timely and potentially more important than the Pentagon Papers."
* * *
Your cynicism is always justified, part 3,409,849
Washington -- A company tied to Vice President Dick Cheney has won a Pentagon contract for advice on rebuilding Iraq's oil fields after a possible war.
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