"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

When in Doubt, Turn to Satire

One of the leading mavens of the technorati blogosphere has a brilliant ready.gov satire. Choice quote:

Going to a fall out shelter is for sissies. And pointless, too as the artificially intelligent radiation will just follow you down the stairs. But if you are just looking to get laid, this is the place, brother.

As things just continue to get worse and worse, I find myself retreating a bit into the world of satire. It's a coping mechanism. Get your fix today.

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Bush to Iraq: Here Comes the Pain

Declaring that "diplomacy hasn't worked," Bush tonight basically declared war on Iraq. He seemed somber, but still arrogant. He's not the idiot we'd love to make him out to be. He's far more dangerous than that. His mind is made up and he's convinced of his own righteousness. The only question now is when, and to make things interesting Frank and I have wagered a sixer of Zywiec on it. I say before St Paddy's day. There will be a vote, and then there will be war. Tonight I am ashamed of America.

Update:Additional thoughts on the speech. I also found it telling that Bush said there would be time for reporters and inspectors to get out. I suppose when the inspectors leave, we'll know it's zero-hour, but the incitement for reporters to go is a double-pronged thrust. On the one hand, he surely doesn't want to blow up Nic Roberts. On the other hand, he surely doesn't want anyone there to film what "shock and awe" looks like on the ground level. On the other other hand, Foxnews lost their man in Baghdad in a game of diplomatic tit for tat, so what does this administration really care anyhoo?

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Philippines: Good War Analogy

Stand Down turned me on to The Mabablog which features an insightful look into the American Imperial incusion into the Philippines as part of the Spanish American war more than a century ago. This is a great antidote to the "Saddam is like Hitler and peace is appeasement" meme that's been going around.

Though the rhetoric is different and we've learned the full use of DoubleSpeak, I have to say this is a better analogy for current events than WWII. By the way, for any of my readers who don't do newtechspeak, a meme is a mind virus (ala Burroughs's "word is virus).

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Jumpy

Our CIC is going to address the nation tonight at 8pm EST. I'm nervious about this. It could be the announcement. Fuck. Aids are trying to downplay this, but it's only the second address the prez has made (1st was right after 9-11) and I don't see him making an announcement just to let us know how things are going. The NYT had this as the last paragraph of their story:

The president and his top aides have said repeatedly that force would only be used against Iraq as the very last resort. Mr. Fleischer restated that theme today, but he added, "In the event that the president decides to use force, the president always thinks it's important to communicate."

I can just picture the smarmy look on Fleicher's face as he says this. Bush knows he's not getting the resolution. This will be his day of informing us all what's going to happen. I'll watch, but I won't like it. I wonder if he'll have a little theme music ("bombs over baghdad....")

Comic Relief: the Mark Fiore Flashtoon in this weeks VillageVoice.com is better than usual. First part is downright funny if you ask me. Make sure you have the sound on. WhiteHouse.org is also pretty funny, if a bit darker in humor.

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Afghan Detainees Beat to Death

At least, it's hard to draw any other conclusion than that from this CNN report. While these guys were likely Al-Quada or if not that then Taliban, that doesn't mean they should be beaten to death in or on their way to US custody. Just another little reminder that war is hell.

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Dove vs Hawk II

As promised, I've posted some interesting emails I've recently gotten from a pro-war soul online. I think they rather handily show how misinformation and closemindedness probably correlate fairly highly with a desire to see a war in Iraq. Key quotes:

  • "I thought the whole Sept. 11th ordeal was enough reason to retaliate... Is that not enough provocation?? "
  • "Did you know that Pakastanian children are bred and born to hate all Americans?... Honestly I would say that we just send a bomb over there and kill everyone in the whole country.."
  • "Them.. they.. middle-eastern.. whatever.. its pretty much all the same.. you know what I mean.."
  • "I just feel so strongly about the whole middle east being our enemies. I guess I'm just a southern girl that has her mind set one way and I'm too stubborn to change it. =) "

You can read the whole thing here. Misinformation is everywhere these days, and a lot of it comes from official sources. It's a problem our nation is facing.

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Misinformed Americans

Did y'all hear about that dude getting arrested in a mall upstate for wearing a peace shirt? Well, just now there was a protest action, with lots of folks heading through there all wearing attire similar to that which got the man arrested in the first place. Now, this is great and cool, but I want to call your attention to a paragraph in the middle of the story:

The group also marched through the mall, and at one point there was a confrontation in the food court between one of the marchers and a man carrying a sign that read "9-11."

Now everyone repreat: there is no connection between Iraq and 9-11. The fact that most Americans still do not understand this is the principle reason there's anything more than 30% support for war. This reminds me of these emails I exchanged with someone recently, someone fond of using the vernacular of "them," as I recently discovered (to my distress) that Dennis Miller has fallen to doing as well. Gone all Hitchens and shit, spouting about how he loves what Bush is doing and "sacraficing civil liberties" is really just waiting longer in line at the airport.

Anyway, I'll post those emails soon. They're enlightening.

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Hardening

Well, it seems that lines are being drawn. Both France and Russia are both signalling that they'll veto the war resolution, if it even gets the required nine votes. Powell reiterates that we're going to go alone. War seems evident and the nation is divided. This is not the fault of Mr Hussein -- it is the fault of Mr Bush.

I for one am tense. While I sense that there's value to be had in the political awakening that is happening among people, especially people of my generation, all over the country, I'm sick to death that it's taking a war to do it. I'm also worried that more damage will be done than we can credibly repair in our lifetimes, and that there's nothing I can do to stop that damage from being done. Lately, I have odd urges to smash things, to paint giant anti-war slogans on the faces of buildings, to vent my frustration and anger and shame in highly visible and entropic ways. I don't think this is a good sign.

Where am I going and how did I get into this handbasket!
SAG is worried about balcklisting. A man is arrested for wearing pro-peace shirts (cnn files this under "offbeat"). Republicans are gleefully profiteering off of war.

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The Great Cross-Blog Debate

My favorite anti-war-blog, Stand Down, and the NZ Bear have organized a cross-blog debate on the war. Warbloggers will be answering the anti-war-blog community's questions and vice versa. You can visit either site for the questions if you want to participate, which I encourage you to do if you blog.

1) If you were President of the United States, what would be your policy toward Iraq over the next year? What advantages and disadvantages do you see in your proposed policies versus the current path being pursued by the Bush administration?

Aggressive containment and reinforced inspections, primarily. These policies have a much greater real chance of protecting the American homeland and our allies from attack than launching an invasion, while at the same time saving massive amounts of human life, economic resources and the reputation of America as a just force in the world.

A good secondary objective would be to overhaul the sanctions mechanism to truly focus it on containment and positive engagement rather than punishment. For instance, we could increase the availability of equipment for water sanitization and other public-health concerns. This could be the beginning of independent economic and cultural ties between businesses and citizens in Iraq and America. As the President is font of noting, the people of Iraq are not our enemy. It's time we put our money where our mouth is on that point.

2) Is there any circumstance that you can conceive of where the United States would be justified in using military force without the support of the UN Security Council --- or does the UN always have a veto against US military action for whatever reason?

Of course the UNSC doesn't have a "veto" over American decisions. If there is a credible and immanent threat to national security or an opportunity to use limited force for a just end that the Security Council for some reason did not want to endorse, then we might be justified in making unilateral choices. However, invasive military action by any nation against another is a threat to international peace and prosperity. Such action must be demonstrated to be the will of the world if we are to be credibly working towards international cooperation and lasting peace.

3) American and British military force has allowed Northern Iraq to develop a society which, while imperfect, is clearly a freer and more open society than existed under Saddam Hussein's direct rule. Do you agree that the no-fly zones have been beneficial to Northern Iraq --- and if so, why should this concept not be extended to remove Hussein's regime entirely and spread those freedoms to all Iraqis?

The "no fly zone" concept is an excellent example of aggressive containment. However, it is in no way comparable to an invasion. It is also worth noting that northern Iraq and central Iraq are very different regions with very different populations and will require very different means to eventually liberate them.

4) Do you believe an inspection and sanctions regime is sufficient and capable of keeping weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of the Hussein regime --- and should this be a goal of U.S. policy? In what way is an inspection/containment/sanctions regime preferable to invasion? Civilian casualties? Expense? Geopolitical outcome?

I don't think it's a possible goal to keep all weapons of mass destruction out of the Hussein regime's hands. The most important thing is to deter the regime from taking aggressive action, be it with conventional weapons or WMD. Secondarily, we must restrain them from creating a large cache of chemical/bio weapons and from attaining nuclear capabilities -- these are threats to national and regional security. Unless the regime can be eliminated peacefully (e.g. exile, reform, bloodless coup) rigorous inspections are our best option in the pursuit of these tasks, as it's very unlikely that any large-scale operation could continue while a strong inspection and monitoring program is in place.

As for the reasons which inspections are preferable to invasion, all of the above. Additionally there are the issues of US military casualties, responsibility for rebuilding Iraq, generational repercussions, increased risk of immediate terrorist attack on America, providing fodder for terrorist recruitment, and a greater probability that any WMDs in Iraq could get loose.

5) What, in your opinion, is the source of national sovereignty? If you believe it to be the consent of the governed, should liberating Iraq from Saddam Hussein's regime be U.S. policy? If so, how do you propose to accomplish this goal absent military action? (And if in your view the sovereignty of a state does not derive from the consent of the governed, then what is the source of sovereignty?)

National Sovereignty rests in the recognition of the world. Sovereign status is conferred via the consensus of other sovereigns. Vociferous internal dissent (up to an including civil war) tends to reduce the validity of a sovereign, but in essence the test of sovereignty is whether or not it is respected by the outside world.

Ideally the legitimacy of sovereignty is grounded in the consent of the governed ala the classic social contract, but in reality this is too fuzzy a concept to hang soverignty on. When does a government lose the consent of the governed? An argument could be made, for instance, that Mr. Bush -- failing to capture the popular vote in 2000 -- does not have the consent of the governed. I'm not going to make that argument, but it does highlight the blurry nature of this concept.

That being said, I do think it should be a US policy goal to liberate the Iraqi people from dictatorship. The best means to do this is through cultural and economic engagement backed by containment and deterrence. This is how we brought down the USSR. It's how we're dealing with China. It's hopefully how we'll deal with North Korea. There's no reason that the same methods won't work in Iraq. The only salient difference between Iraq and the Soviets or Chinese or N. Korea is that we clearly enjoy complete military supremacy, and as such we could easily "win" in a war. Just because we can doesn't mean this course of action is in any way preferable to the alternative.

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