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March 21, 2003

Comic relief

Check it out, before the server gets swamped.

They haven't explained how they're going to pay for this war...

...especially given that--unlike last time--there aren't a lot of other countries opening up their checkbooks. ("Coalition" seems to have been redefined as "countries which are not in active opposition," rather than "countries which are supplying manpower or funding.")

But when you need some money to pay for war--and you've already promised your rich contributors a huge tax break--well, you can always squeeze disabled veterans a little tighter:

By a vote along party lines, the majority members of the House Budget Committee passed and reported for a vote by the House a budget resolution that would cut $844 million from veterans’ medical care next year and $9.7 billion over the next 10 years. In addition, the budget resolution would cut $15 billion from the disability compensation and other benefit programs over the next 10 years.

Support the troops, indeed.

Blogging around

Eric Alterman has tossed in the towel:

For me, the antiwar movement such as it was, is over. We lost. It’s time to wish the best for our soldiers and the victims of this war focus on building a better future.

But as Atrios notes today:

The reason people protest in the first place is because they feel it's their only avenue of political expression. Their elected representatives aren't providing a voice, the media isn't providing a voice, so the only possible way to register objections to the current war is public protest. In addition, as many people can attest, the state and local democratic parties are largely in shambles and/or unwelcoming to new participants.

If it was wrong two days ago it's wrong today. This is my last obligatory "I support the troops and hope they come home safely." That's a given, and there's no conflict between wanting them to stay alive and not wanting there to be a war.

I don't think any anti-war protesters are under the illlusion that they're going to change any minds this week. That isn't the point - the point is to register objections the only way they can.

Signs of the times

When I get some time, I'm going to archive all of these into their own special section. This one's from Salon:

Windham, N.Y., is a ski town, nestled in the Catskills, about two and a half hours from New York City. Main Street, a short, quaint strip that cuts across the bottom of Windham Mountain, is where you can find everything you really need: a post office, a school, a deli, a diner, a gas station, and toward the end, an old restaurant and bar called Madison's.

Last Sunday, my friend Dawn and I found ourselves at this local haunt after a day of skiing. The place was dead. A lottery game and a golf tournament quietly flickered on the two TV sets. So we started making polite conversation with the bartender, and then the two men sitting next to us.

One was a 40-something, recently laid-off businessman from Little Silver, N.J., a town that's 15 minutes from where I grew up at the Jersey Shore. The father of two young girls, he had spent the day skiing with his family. His friend was a lawyer, a local, and the father of four, including three girls. They seemed amused to be sitting next to two young, single women from Manhattan, who were both journalists. After they gave us a tip about tax evasion at a local nightclub, they asked us what we thought of the war.

When Dawn and I said we were against the war, the men's expressions tightened and they looked down at their steaks. They were huge supporters of the war. They argued that if America didn't disarm Saddam Hussein, no one would, and that America usually acts alone anyway, so who cares what those European bastards think. I'd encountered opinions like theirs many times before. Their attitudes reminded me of many of the men I grew up with -- fiercely patriotic, desperate to protect their families from terrorism, bursting with faith in the president.

But when we suggested that Sept. 11 had nothing to do with Iraq, the conversation immediately shifted. Their faces reddened, and they began to talk quickly at the same time, the businessman slapping his hand against the bar to punctuate his outbursts:

"At some point, you have to trust your president! You have to believe that he knows something we don't!"

"They attacked our country. Now we have to get them!"

"I was down there at the Trade Center. I had a burning piece of paper on my face! Burning. Piece. Of. Paper. On. My. Face!"

The businessman seemed to have forgotten that thousands had perished at the towers -- he didn't mention them, anyway -- so consumed was he with his personal vendetta against the Sept. 11 terrorists, I mean, Saddam. In fact, our increasingly irate new friends accused us of supporting Saddam over Bush. When we explained that nobody "supports" Saddam, they went ballistic.

"You know what? You two are the reason why this country's going down the fucking toilet."

"This is why I hate you city folks. Fucking city folks. Why don't you go back to New York? The fucking toilet."

"Communists. That's what you are. Communist feminists. Fucking liberals."

And this is via Atrios (from the Nando Times, which has a more invasive registration procedure than I'm in the mood to deal with this morning):

FRESNO, Calif. (March 20, 2003 8:29 p.m. EST) - Pierre Frik feared if the country went to war in Iraq, he might be targeted by zealots because of his Middle Eastern background. He never imagined he'd be vulnerable because his chain of stores was named French Cleaners.

The Lebanese native said he only picked the name on a whim, making the Eiffel Tower the stores' logo. But as relations between the United States and France soured over war with Iraq, Frik said he was hit by the backlash.

Customers have spit on checks and passers-by make obscene gestures, he said. On Wednesday, his Modesto store was damaged in a fire. He said he later learned his two other stores had been vandalized.

"We're very concerned about French-bashing going on across the country," French consulate spokesman Yo-Jung Chen said Thursday, in the aftermath of France's threat to block a U.N. resolution authorizing force against Iraq.

Authorities estimated the damage to Frik's Modesto store at $500,000 but declined to classify the blaze as suspicious.


March 20, 2003

A growing coalition...

...of countries who are providing neither troops nor financial assistance. Uh huh.

Light blogging today...

...and possibly tomorrow, due to deadlines and such. But I don't have a lot to say right at the moment anyway. Just watching and waiting, like everyone else.

Update: In the meantime, some good thoughts about it all here. And here's the lowdown on who's profiting from this thing. (And a banal aside: I wish there were more variety in blogspot templates--online voices need unique visual identities. But maybe that's just my prejudice as a visual artist.)


March 19, 2003

Here we go

From the CBC:

WASHINGTON - U.S. President George Bush on Wednesday sent Congress a formal justification for invading Iraq, citing the attacks on the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001.

Via Atrios. This is the letter they're referring to. Key paragraph:

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

Carl from Wasted Irony notes via email:

Note the textual trickery? He doesn't actually say that Iraq had anything to do with Sept 11; what he says is the US has the right to attack terrorists and terrorist organizations, INCLUDING those nations...[that were part of Sept 11]. In other words, we can go after Iraq because they are a terrorist organization, which is basically true as Hussein does provide minor aid to anti-Israel terrorist groups. To the casual reader, the word "including" implies a connection between Iraq and Sept 11, but in reality the word draws a lawyerly line between the two. Basically Bush is saying that we can go after any terrorists anywhere, and a sub-set of the general family of terrorists are those terrorists who attacked us on Sept 11. He isn't actually saying that Iraq is part of that sub-set.

This is what is so sleazy about the Orwellian way these boys use words. On the surface the paragraph is actually accurate, so the media and Congress can't call Bush on the carpet for lying. But the purpose of the paragraph--like all those speeches Bush makes where he mentions Sept 11 and Iraq repeatedly together--is to reinforce in most readers the false belief that Sept 11 was the Iraqis fault. And, even more Machiavellianly, the Bushies know that this lie will be reinforced in peoples' minds because nobody is contradicting it, and they're not contradicting it because technically it's not a lie. Talk about DoubleSpeak.

Line of the day

"He's essentially blaming President Bush for the fact that we may be on the verge of war."

--Ari Fleischer, referring to Tom Daschle's recent comments about the failure of diplomacy.

Update: O'Reilly is claiming that Tom Daschle's criticism of Bush is equivalent to Trent Lott's borderline-racism.

Why the administration is "embedding" journalists
Still, I had trouble fathoming why an Administration that had shown no particular concern for world opinion in the previous months would go to such lengths to accommodate so many journalists. One military officer at the Hilton privately suggested an answer: “We want you here to document the gas and the other stuff Saddam has in his arsenal. If he has it, or, God forbid, uses it, the world’s not going to believe the U.S. Army. But they’ll believe you.” This, the more I thought about it, was not a very encouraging reason to be here. As the day of the embed drew closer, I began to feel like a lab rat, heading off for great chemical experiments.


A small bit of good news
WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The Senate Wednesday narrowly voted against opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil drilling, defeating the centerpiece of President Bush's energy policy.

In a tug of war largely along party lines, Senate Republicans called for allowing oil companies to explore the sprawling refuge, on Alaska's northern coast, to help reduce U.S. oil imports.

Democrats, a few moderate Republicans and environmental groups argue the pristine wilderness should be left untouched in favor of stricter oil conservation measures and drilling elsewhere.

The vote was 52-48 to reject drilling in ANWR.

Congressional sources said key votes were cast by Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman and Oregon Sen. Gordon Smith. Both Republicans opposed opening the refuge to drilling in the past, but had been the target of heavy lobbying by their party on an issue that is important to the White House at a time when the nation is on the brink of war with Iraq.


Signs of the times, special New Jersey edition
If the nation escalates to "red alert," which is the highest in the color-coded readiness against terror, you will be assumed by authorities to be the enemy if you so much as venture outside your home, the state's anti-terror czar says.

"This state is on top of it," said Sid Caspersen, New Jersey's director of the office of counter-terrorism.

Caspersen, a former FBI agent, was briefing reporters, alongside Gov. James E. McGreevey, on Thursday, when for the first time he disclosed the realities of how a red alert would shut the state down.

A red alert would also tear away virtually all personal freedoms to move about and associate.

"Red means all noncritical functions cease," Caspersen said. "Noncritical would be almost all businesses, except health-related."

A red alert means there is a severe risk of terrorist attack, according to federal guidelines from the Department of Homeland Security.

"The state will restrict transportation and access to critical locations," says the state's new brochure on dealing with terrorism.

"You must adhere to the restrictions announced by authorities and prepare to evacuate, if instructed. Stay alert for emergency messages."

Okay, then.

Of course he did
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia banned broadcast media from an appearance Wednesday where he will receive an award for supporting free speech.

The article doesn't explain why anyone would give Scalia such an award in the first place.

Lots of rumors flying today...

...but I'm in "wait and see" mode. We have, I think, officially entered that phase in which the precious truth is attended by a bodyguard of lies at all times.


March 18, 2003

Conservative Ice Cream

Featuring "I-Hate-the-French Vanilla," "Nutty Environmentalist," and "Smaller GovernMINT."

I kid you not.

Howard Dean's statement on the war
Tonight, for better or worse, America is at war. Tonight, every American, regardless of party, devoutly supports the safety and success of our men and women in the field. Those of us who, over the past 6 months, have expressed deep concerns about this President's management of the crisis, mistreatment of our allies and misconstruction of international law, have never been in doubt about the evil of Saddam Hussein or the necessity of removing his weapons of mass destruction.

Those Americans who opposed our going to war with Iraq, who wanted the United Nations to remove those weapons without war, need not apologize for giving voice to their conscience, last year, this year or next year. In a country devoted to the freedom of debate and dissent, it is every citizen's patriotic duty to speak out, even as we wish our troops well and pray for their safe return. Congressman Abraham Lincoln did this in criticizing the Mexican War of 1846, as did Senator Robert F. Kennedy in calling the war in Vietnam "unsuitable, immoral and intolerable."

This is not Iraq, where doubters and dissenters are punished or silenced --this is the United States of America. We need to support our young people as they are sent to war by the President, and I have no doubt that American military power will prevail. But to ensure that our post-war policies are constructive and humane, based on enduring principles of peace and justice, concerned Americans should continue to speak out; and I intend to do so.

From Dean's site.

Unscientific poll alert

"Have Bush and Blair made the case for war?"

Currently 66% yes, 34% no.


Signs of the times, cont'd.

It just gets stupider and stupider.

PITTSBURGH, 6:20 p.m. EST March 17, 2003 - The French position on the Iraqi situation has prompted protests throughout the United States.

Protesting french fries is easy. Just change the name to something like USA Fries or Freedom Fries.

Protesting French wine is easy too. Just pour it out.

"Nobody takes it seriously, and especially not France," said Josh Wander, of White Oak. "It doesn't make a difference to them if fries are called Freedom Fries."

Wander told WTAE-TV's Whitney Drolen that the answer is easy: Just send back France's best-known gift.

"A strong response like sending the Statue of Liberty back would be appropriate at this point," he said.

Wander has posted a petition on the Web site www.GiveItBack.net.

Those of you who mockingly suggested this over the past few days may now understand the difficulties facing a satirist in times when reality so often surpasses satire.

(Unless, of course, this is a joke. But looking at the guy's site, he seems completely earnest.)

Afterthought: the more I think about this one, the more I think it must be a joke.

Voices of the Poets
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

--The Second Coming, by Yeats.

And, to switch gears so quickly it'll give you whiplash, there's this:

Liberals Stink

All those smelly liberals
Dancing in the park
For Saddam, Satan
And Karl Marx

They hate their country
They hate their God
If you offer them steak
Then they ask for cod

They'll never be happy
Til we all speak Iraqi
And all our kids
Smoke wacky baccy

I wish they'd all
Go and live in Cuba
Liberals stink more
Than a man I know who plays the tuba
Very badly

That's from the Poets for the War site, though honestly, I suspect the author may not have been entirely sincere. Which leads me to suggest a little game: write your own "pro-war" poems and submit them to the site. And let me know if any of them are posted. This could be fun.

Must be something in the water

The BBC reports that a talking fish has predicted the end of the world:

Zalmen Rosen, from the Skver sect of Hasidic Jews, says co-worker Luis Nivelo, a Christian, was about to kill a carp to be made into gefilte fish in the city's New Square Fish Market in January when it began shouting in Hebrew.

"It said 'Tzaruch shemirah' and 'Hasof bah'," Mr Rosen later told the New York Times newspaper.

"[It] essentially means [in Hebrew] that everyone needs to account for themselves because the end is nigh."


It instructed him to pray and study the Torah, but Mr Rosen admitted that in a state of panic he attempted to kill the fish, injuring himself in the process and ending up in hospital.

The fish was eventually killed by Mr Nivelo and sold.

Many members of the city's Jewish community are now certain that God, troubled by the prospect of war in Iraq, has revealed Himself in fish form.

Update: Click here for a religious experience of your own.


March 17, 2003


Reader John Gorenfeld emails:

The entire situation is reminiscent, as someone pointed out on Atrios, of the old Star Trek episode "Patterns of Force" (in which) Federation history professor John Gill becomes the drugged leader of a Nazi planet:

GILL (seen on TV at a rally): If we fulfill our own greatness,
that will all be ended.
Working together --

SPOCK: Captain, the speech follows no logical pattern.
Random sentences strung together.

MCCOY: He looks drugged,Jim,
almost in a cataleptic state.

GILL: ...reach our goal,
And we will reach that goal.
Every thought ...
directed toward a goal.
This planet ...
can become a paradise,
if we are willing to pay the price.
As each cell in the body ...
works with discipline and harmony for the good ...
of the entire being --

I'm too tired to dig through Atrios' comments, but whoever came up with that is a genius.

Calm, reassuring and determined

That's what they're saying on Fox News. Looked more like an audioanimatron to me.

At any rate, here we go. Fasten your safety belts and keep your arms and legs inside the tram at all times.

Also: you notice he said "do not destroy oil wells" before "do not use weapons of mass destruction"?

Things to watch for

South Knox Bubba says that Bush has a "tell":

A "tell" is a gesture, expression, or affectation that gives away the fact that the speaker is lying. I'm told that it's very useful in poker as a way of knowing when the other guy is bluffing.

When Bush lies, he twists his mouth around to the side and bites his lip.

Police interrogators have studied the art of lying for years. They note that moving ones hand near the face or covering the mouth while speaking is a "tell". The theory is that the person is unconsciously trying to cover the lie, or keep it from coming out, or capture it and push it back in. (Clinton touched his eye or his nose when he lied).

It seems to me this theory would also apply to biting your lip -- trying unconsciously to keep the lie from escaping. (Interestingly, mispronouncing words is also a "tell"). This should not be confused with the famous "smirk", which he exhibits when he says something that even he knows is either incredibly stupid or arrogant.

Anyway, I am bringing this to your attention as a public service announcement. Pay close attention the next time Bush speaks and see if you can spot it, too. It might help you better interpret his remarks.

And Jay Weidner suspects that the President is hearing voices:

As I watched Bush give his recent speech I realized that his eyes wandered from right to left and from left to right. It was obvious that he was not reading from a TelePrompTer. Also I noticed that there were long pauses between his sentences. On queue he would look left and then right before beginning his next sentence. It soon became apparent to me what was going on and why President Bush had suddenly become erudite.

As a film director I recognized immediately what was happening. After making many documentaries, in all sorts of conditions, it is sometimes impossible to use a TelePrompTer to assist the narrator. For instance, sometimes the glare of the sun will blank out the words on the TelePrompTer screen, or there may be a number of other technical glitches that get in the way of using it properly. On these rare occasions when the TelePrompTer cannot be used, I, and others, have used, instead, another device to help the narrator remember his dialogue.

Using a small earpiece a FM signal is broadcast into the ear of the narrator. Another voice reads the dialogue and the signal is sent to the earpiece. The narrator hears the words in his ear and uses this as his prompt.

There are several problems with this technique, which is why it is used only rarely in films and documentaries: First, it should be said that the earpiece prompt is usually a last ditch effort to prompt the narrator, or actor, while shooting a film. Technical glitches aside, when a Director resorts to an earpiece prompt it usually means that the narrator, or actor, has trouble reading or remembering their lines. Secondly, long pauses have to be built into the prompt and the script. These pauses take place in between sentences so that the prompt does not get too far ahead of the person speaking. Thirdly the script must be rewritten for the earpiece prompt. The sentences must stay short and concise so that the narrator, or actor, does not get confused.

(Both links via Elayne Riggs.)

Meanwhile, reader John Mulhausen suggests a drinking game for the evening:

Take 1 Drink for each time he exploits 9/11

Take 1 Drink for each time he downplays the significance of world opinion

Take 1 Drink for each time he claims that this massacre will increase the amount of freedom currently being experienced in Iraq.

I know that if you do participate, you probably won't even remember your fucking name, let alone the justification for the bloodbath that is about to begin.

It seems about as useful as anything else we can do at this point.

The latest on that speech

From what they're reporting on the news, it's apparently going to be the end-of-diplomacy speech. We can look forward to the dropping-the-bombs speech in a few more days.

Wall Street couldn't be happier

News of the imminent war has sent the Dow soaring by almost three hundred points.

A personal note for regular readers

Three months after it was stolen, the cops found our car. And apart from the minor, expected damage--broken door lock and ignition--it's actually in decent shape. Even still has the radio, probably because the twelve year old factory installed model wasn't worth the trouble of ripping out.

They notify you by mail, and the letter arrived on Saturday, informing us that we had ten days to claim the vehicle or it would be auctioned off. I spent the weekend envisioning one of those doorless, burned out hulks you see set up on cinder blocks in dodgy neighborhoods.

Heck, if you want to look at it on the bright side--and am I not known for my sunny optimism?--I didn't have to deal with digging it out of the snow over the last couple of months.

Laughter: the best medicine

Go look at this Kevin Moore cartoon. I'll bet you see yourself in it somewhere. Personally, I careen wildly between the second, third, and fourth panels. Usually in the course of a single day.


That's what it says on this artillery weapon. Because of, um, you know. Iraq's involvement in 9/11. Anyway, all those Middle Easterners look alike. Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out, right?

Alert level DD8800

Regarding this story, reader Scott Cooper suggests using RGB codes, to allow for a wider variance of terror alerts than the present system supplies.

Or maybe Pantone colors. Between Orange 021 and Red 032, maybe a nice Pantone 167 would effectively indicate our current state of readiness.

Just trying to help.

Oh boy

Presidential address at 8 pm tonight.

And the UN is pulling its people out of Iraq.

As long as I'm quoting old The The lyrics...

This is your captain calling
With an urgent warning
We're above the Gulf of Arabia
Our altitude is falling
And I can't hold her up
There's no time for thinking
All hands on deck
This bird is sinking

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - An American college student in Gaza to protest Israel operations was killed Sunday when she was run over by a bulldozer while trying to block troops from demolishing a Palestinian home.

At least one Palestinian also was killed.

The killing of the student by the Israelis — the first of a foreign activist in 29 months of fighting — came as Israelis and Palestinians wrangled over the terms of a U.S.-backed plan to end the violence and establish a Palestinian state.

Rachel Corrie, 23, of Olympia, Wash., had been with U.S. and British demonstrators in the Rafah refugee camp trying to stop demolitions. She died in the hospital, said Dr. Ali Moussa, a hospital administrator.


Signs of the times...

...clearly an ongoing series:

By The Associated Press (3/17/03- Houston) — For Francoise Thomas, the anger against France for its continuing opposition to military action against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein hadn't hit home until she read about it on one of her doors.

When Thomas took out the garbage Saturday morning, she saw red letters spray-painted on the garage door of her townhouse.

"Scum go back to France," it read.

"I nearly had a heart attack," she told the Houston Chronicle in Monday's editions.

Thomas, who has lived in the United States 23 years and made her career as a real estate agent here, recently retired and plans to stay in Kingwood.


This is the 51st state of the U.S.A.

From the New York Times:

The Pentagon's official statement is that the United States will stay "as long as necessary" to get things going, and then leave "as soon as possible." When closely questioned by members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who wanted more of an answer, the under secretary of state for political affairs, Marc Grossman, conceded on Feb. 11 that he did not think power could be completely turned over to an Iraqi government in less than two years. As for how many American troops will be required, the Army's top general recently said he thought it would take 200,000. The Pentagon immediately said no, not so many, without saying how many.

Whatever the number, they will become a target for Arab nationalists and terrorists, who have proved in the past that they can find a way through American security perimeters. In 1983 in Lebanon, where President Ronald Reagan sent American troops to help resolve a civil war, terrorists twice struck American targets with devastating effect. A bomb outside the American embassy in Beirut wrecked the building, killing more than 60 people including the entire C.I.A. station. A second bomb, outside a building converted into a barracks for American marines, killed 241 servicemen, and led to a complete American withdrawal within months. Responsibility for the attacks was never proved, but in both cases the C.I.A. suspected terrorist groups supported by the government of Iran, which shares a 730-mile border with Iraq, soon, perhaps, to be defended by Americans. C.I.A. analysts also suspect Iran's involvement in the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 Americans.

Like it says in the song:

The ammunition's being passed and the Lord's been praised
But the wars on the televisions will never be explained
All the bankers gettin' sweaty beneath their white collars
As the pound in our pocket turns into a dollar

And another reality check

I keep getting variations on this email forwarded to me:

I was at a UNC lecture the other day where they played a video of Oliver North during the Iran-Contra deals during the Reagan administration. I was only 14 back then but was surprised by this particular clip. There was Olie in front of God and Country getting the third degree. But what he said stunned me. He was being drilled by some senator I didn't recognize who asked him:

'Did you not recently spend close to $60,000 for a home security system?'

Oliver replied, 'Yes I did sir.'

The senator continued, trying to get a laugh out of the audience, 'Isn't this just a little excessive?'

'No sir,' continued Oliver.

'No. And why not?'

'Because the life of my family and I were threatened.'

'Threatened? By who.'

'By a terrorist, sir.'

'Terrorist? What terrorist could possibly scare you that much?'

'His name is Osama bin Laden.'

At this point the senator tried to repeat the name, but couldn't pronounce it, which most people back then probably couldn't. A couple of people laughed at the attempt. Then the senator continued.

'Why are you so afraid of this man?'

'Because sir, he is the most evil person alive that I know of.'

'And what do you recommend we do about him?'

'If it were me I would recommend an assassin team be formed to eliminate him and his men from the face of the earth.'

The senator disagreed with this approach and that was all they showed of the clip.

It's scary when you think 15 years ago the government was aware of Osama bin Laden and his potential threat to the security of the world. I guess like all great tyrants they start small but if left untended spread like the virus they truly are.

For the record, it's bullshit; Snopes has the lowdown, including a denial from North himself. So the next time you see this in your inbox, instead of sending it to me, send this link to the person who fell for it.

Signs of the times, cont'd.

This is a forward from a listserv (CPT stands for Christian Peacemaker Teams). I don't know anything about the group, and the message is too recent to have been archived on their site. So, with those caveats:

CPTnet March 14, 2003 TORONTO/CHICAGO: Canadian CPTer denied entry to USA, questioned by FBI

Matthew Bailey-Dick, 30, from Waterloo ON, was denied entry into the USA early on March 7, 2003, after U.S. immigration officials at Port Huron MI found literature from Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in the trunk of his rental car. The immigration officers claimed that the CPT newsletters, printed in Chicago IL, were "anti-American." They also raised concerns about a sticker on Bailey-Dick's guitar case that read, "Question authority."

Bailey-Dick is currently studying at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries in Goshen, IN. He had been in Waterloo, ON, speaking at the church he had pastored for the previous two years--Waterloo Kitchener United Mennonite Church--about his participation in the recent CPT delegation to Iraq.

Bailey-Dick was carrying a J-1 student visa, valid until the end of August
2003. U.S. immigration officers confiscated the visa, insisting that he needed a new type of visa document. They then finger-printed and photographed him. Later that day, an immigration supervisor told Bailey-Dick that his student visa was valid, but that he was still denied entry into the USA. The supervisor said that Bailey-Dick needed to go to Detroit for an interview with an even higher-echelon U.S. immigration official.

When he arrived at the Detroit border crossing on March 8, Bailey-Dick was questioned for an hour by FBI agent Tom Morisi and immigration officer John Owen about the work of Christian Peacemaker Teams and the CPT delegation to
Iraq. They then informed him that his student visa would be reissued.

At the end of the questioning, Owen cautioned Bailey-Dick, "Don't bring any of that literature across the border any more. It's one thing for an American citizen to distribute such literature. It's quite a different thing for a foreign national to come into the USA and promote such ideas."

Our newest menace: subversive Canadians sneaking across the border to promote their dangerous ideas. Add 'em to the list.

"The entities that call themselves 'the international community' should have assumed their responsibilities a long time ago, should have thought about what the sanctions they have imposed really meant, should have looked at reports about weapons and human rights abuses a long time before having them thrown in their faces as excuses for war five minutes before midnight. What is bringing on this rant is the question that has been bugging for days now: how could “support democracy in Iraq” become to mean “bomb the hell out of Iraq”? why did it end up that democracy won’t happen unless we go thru war? Nobody minded an un-democratic Iraq for a very long time, now people have decided to bomb us to democracy? Well, thank you! how thoughtful."

From an Iraqi blogger, via the eminently necessary Max Sawicky.

That Goering quote...

...still shows up in my inbox at least once a day. Some of you are clearly not reading The American Prospect, or else you'd know that I used it in a cartoon there last September.

Don't get me wrong, though--I don't want to discourage anyone from forwarding links. I'd rather get the same tip a hundred times than miss something important because someone who might have sent it assumes that I've already seen it.

Another reality check

An 1998 article from the Humanist, via Alas, a Blog, looks at the cases of some women who have undergone late-term abortions.

VIKKI STELLA from Naperville, Illinois. Parents of two daughters, Vikki and her husband Archer discovered at thirty-two weeks of pregnancy that the fetus had only fluid filling the cranium where its brain should have been, as well as other major problems. The Stellas made "the most loving decision we could have made" to terminate the pregnancy. Because the procedure preserved her fertility, Vikki was able to conceive again. In December 1995, she gave birth to a healthy boy, Nicholas.

MARY-DOROTHY LINE from Los Angeles, California. In the summer of 1995, Mary-Dorothy was told at twenty-one weeks of pregnancy that her fetus had an advanced, textbook case of hydrocephalus--an excess of fluid on the brain. It was so acute and so advanced that it was untreatable. Practicing Catholics, she and her husband Bill sought a medical miracle but were told that no surgery or therapy could save their baby. Indeed, the medical experts who reviewed the case told her that her own health was at risk, and so the Lines decided to end the pregnancy. Mary-Dorothy was able to become pregnant again and gave birth to a healthy baby girl in September 1996.

COREEN COSTELLO from Agoura, California. In April 1995, seven months pregnant with her third child, Coreen and her husband Jim found out that a lethal neuromuscular disease had left their much-wanted daughter unable to survive. Its body had stiffened and was frozen, wedged in a transverse position. In addition, amniotic fluid had puddled and built up to dangerous levels in Coreen's uterus. Devout Christians and opposed to abortion, the Costellos agonized for over two weeks about their decision and baptized the fetus in utero. Finally, Coreen's increasing health problems forced them to accept the advice of numerous medical experts that the intact dilation and extraction (D&X) was, indeed, the best option for Coreen's own health, and the abortion was performed. Later, in June 1996, Coreen gave birth to a healthy son.

And remember, if you're feeling the need to thank somebody for the late-term abortion ban: it was the Senate Democrats who put it over the top.


March 16, 2003

It's called "blowback"...

...and you'd think we'd be wary of it by now.

On three continents, Al Qaeda and other terror organizations have intensified their efforts to recruit young Muslim men, tapping into rising anger about the American campaign for war in Iraq, according to intelligence and law enforcement officials.

In recent weeks, officials in the United States, Europe and Africa say they had seen evidence that militants within Muslim communities are seeking to identify and groom a new generation of terrorist operatives. An invasion of Iraq, the officials worry, is almost certain to produce a groundswell of recruitment for groups committed to attacks in the United States, Europe and Israel.

"An American invasion of Iraq is already being used as a recruitment tool by Al Qaeda and other groups," a senior American counterintelligence official said. "And it is a very effective tool."

Story here. And then there's this:

To protect New York City if and when an American-led attack on Iraq begins, police officials have prepared a sweeping security plan that calls for expanding the patrols on the streets and asking the Defense Department to fly combat aircraft overhead, a senior police official said yesterday.

The patrols on the streets — at government buildings, hotels and houses of worship as well as at newly strengthened checkpoints at bridges and tunnels — would address a concern of police officials, that attackers acting alone present a greater risk than a larger, carefully orchestrated assault on the city.

On behalf of the 75% of my fellow New Yorkers who oppose this little bloodbath, I would like to say to those of you who have supported it so vociferously--and who believe that an administration that can't even get their little color coded charts in order is capable of prosecuting it effectively--well, thanks so much. Thanks for risking our safety and our lives on the basis of nothing more than simplistic propaganda which any child should be able to see through. Thanks for increasing the likelihood that this city will suffer further grief and pain. Lord knows we haven't seen enough of that sort of thing around here already.

Signs of the times


Passenger's Anti-War Sign Gets Snippy Response Fri March 14, 2003 07:42 AM ET WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An airline passenger has complained to U.S. authorities that a government baggage screener left a note in his suitcase criticizing his lack of patriotism after finding a "No Iraq War" sign inside his bag.

Seth Goldberg, a 41-year-old New Jersey man, said on Thursday he believes a screener with the Transportation Security Administration slipped a note into his suitcase before a March 2 flight out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

"Don't appreciate your anti-American attitude!" was neatly hand written on the standard notice TSA places inside all the bags that screeners open.

(Via reader Mark LaVerdiere).

* * *

With some 15,000 to 20,000 folks at the rodeo drinking beer and having fun, things can get a little out of hand at times. It happened when a tape of Lee Greenwood's song Proud To Be An American was playing. Some rodeo fans were standing and others were sitting down. Felix Fanaselle and his buddies chose to remain seated.

"This guy behind us starts yelling at us (because) we're not standing up," said Fanaselle. "He starts cussing at us, telling us to go back to Iraq."

The 16-year-old said the man seated behind him started spitting at him and spilling his beer on him and his friends.

"By the end of the song, he pulled my ear. I got up. He pushed me. I pushed him," said Felix. "He punched me in my face. I got him off me."

When the dust settled, Fanaselle had been handcuffed and released. He and John McCambridge were cited for "mutual combat" and fighting in public. That's a $200 fine. Fanaselle's lawyer says you don't have to stand for a country and western song.

(Via Hesiod.)

* * *

If I were given a choice of pressing one of two buttons - one to do away with terrorism or another to do away with those Democrats up in Washington - I wouldn't even have to think about it. I would do away with the Democrats, and do this country a favor.

William G. Koehlke

Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Saturday, March 15, 2003.

(Via Atrios, who notes, "If I wrote a letter like that about Republicans or Bush I would expect - and deserve - a little visit from the FBI." More likely the Secret Service, but you get the idea.)


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