Specific new evidence indicates that Iraqi activity in the Western desert shows the strong likelihood Scud missiles are hidden there. These missiles could easily reach Israel carrying chemical or biological warheads which could draw Israel into any war.
Near the border with Kuwait, where 135,000 U.S. troops are now stationed, recent surveillance indicates Iraqi artillery batteries have been moved dangerously close. The artillery is capable of firing shells filled with poison gas.
But since this stuff really doesn't exist, no worries, eh?
Fortunately, if ABC knows, I think our Special Forces know and will "Be Prepared" (another thing the lefties don't like). Plus, those Iraqi troops near the Kuwaiti border are lucky in that they will be the first ones who get to surrender. Even MREs are more palatable than what those Iraqi troops are likely getting.
...go out to the good folks at ScrappleFace and Outside the Beltway for making the Washington Post. A number of other great blogs made the roll call. Keep up the good work folks!
Despite loyal reader Richard N's attempt to get the Barrel mentioned, I did not make the cut. It could have something to do with my a priori taunting of the reporter below ("Pick Me I'm Ever So Smart"). I must admit surprise that Blogs of War didn't make the roll call.
I should also mention that I ran across another very astute blogger who deals primarily with business issues -- BusinessPundit. Some good stuff there that may go unnoticed with all the focus on Iraq.
Former Enron advisor Paul Krugman has a very dopey column in the NYT today, where he compares President Bush to Captain Queeg. Since I never read The Caine Mutiny (even in Cliffnotes version) nor saw the movie (and can't figure out why people are upset with Michael Caine anyways), I will trust St. Paul on his strawberries analogy.
First, the general tone of the article is odd. Krugman, who did so well advising Enron, thinks President Bush's foreign policy is becoming mired down. But wasn't Krugman part of the voices urging multilateralism, go to the UN, consult our allies. Bush has done this. Any difficulty with foreign policy right now is due primarily to French intransigence (and its ripple effect in Turkey and Russia).
Second, Krugman is still under the illusion that North Korea is the bigger problem because they have an actual bomb. Yes, but wacky as they may be, the North Koreans haven't shown any indication of wanting to use it. (True, they launched some missiles and were a bit close to our U2s, but they haven't invaded any country in five decades, unlike the wacky Iraqi.) Plus, and I cannot stress this enough, it is a matter of RESOLVE. If we back down from Iraq now, and divert attention to N. Korea, we show weakness (i.e., lack of resolve). I would bet a dollar to a donut (cream filled) as soon as we did this, Hussein would start acting up. If we finish off the wacky Iraqi in short order, my guess is that it will be known via CNN and Kim Il Elvis will be watching. And how long do we have to keep screaming about the al-Qaeda-Iraq link? (Big thanks to BusinessPundit for his hotlink.) It seems that some people just don't want to believe this no matter what. It makes one wonder about Krugman's economic analysis if he can't put the empirics together with the theory on this one.
How about this line? I've talked in this column about the administration's eerie passivity in the face of a stalling economy and an exploding budget deficit: reality isn't allowed to intrude on the obsession with long-run tax cuts.
Let me make this point again. The budget deficit is still below the 3% of GDP threshold that is required by the EU, where their tax rates are higher!! In other words, we can meet EU standards without raising taxes (and without resorting to creative bookkeeping, which is happening in Europe.) Moreover, the budget deficit as a % of GDP is still quite low relative to other periods in history, particularly in terms of wartime economies (e.g., Vietnam). And why doesn't Krugman forget about budget cuts?! Government spending is still increasing and in some sectors much, much faster than inflation (cf. last year's Farm Bill -- ugh, now that's Bush's basket of strawberries if anything).
And what the hell is the Nelson Report? Ha, Ha! I've never heard of it, but then again I'm not a foreign policy expert or Princeton economist (or former Enron advisor).
Finally, notice all the purple prose -- particularly, the use of vitriolic adjectives and adverbs -- in this essay. On a blog like this that's fine. This is cheap talk and fun and games. But this is not very professional in the NYT. If I wrote an editorial and use my real name, it would never have the tone of this. This is simply pathetic whining. Start a blog Krugman if you want to act childish (which he accuses our president of). You can call it St. Paul's Enronomics -- i.e., a lack of substance surrounded by a wall of deceit.
P.S. Why doesn't St. Paul's NYT bio mention his role at Enron? ...smell ya later.
As pertains to my post about non-specific idiocy that I recently witnessed, I asked several of you to trust me and just express shock and outrage. A reader named "M" had a thoughtful post asking for some kind of slogan. Well, I thought about this. How could we who lurk in the shadows cast by political correctness show our outrage and disgust without being detected? Could we come up with a possible slogan for buttons and/or bumper stickers? Something that would create a big inside joke.
A caller to a morning talk show caught my attention and earned himself this week's "Fish in a Barrel" award. (I haven't really institutionalized this award yet; I'll get around to it.)
He was against the war in Iraq and wanted global harmony. And here were his three suggestions to bring about "whirled peas:"
1) Keep inspections going for another 10 years. [JL: That would be more costly than a war because the only way to ensure inspections, as we have found, has been to put a massive amount of troops on Iraq's borders...and even then the inspections are quite pathetic. Plus, the "troops on the border" would begin to loose their threat effectiveness the longer they don't do anything. Threats are only helpful if you can show you are willing to follow through.]
2) Build a railroad between North and South Korea because this would create more contact between the the two peoples and when people see each other as humans, they don't want to have war. [JL: This is just too stupid to even comment on. This is basically the argument of a 4th grader (all due respect to those of you with schoolchildren.)]
3) Make the US armed forces comply with strict environmental standards because a world with dirty air and water isn't a world he would want to live in and defend. [JL: Nevermind. Just read this, please.]
The recent intransigence of Turkey to provide access to Iraq for our troops has been somewhat annoying, if not puzzling. On first glance, it would seem to be in their interest. The major explanations why the parliamentary vote "failed" (because of procedural issues) that I've heard so far are thus: (1) they resent the leaks that we were trying to buy them off with an aid package; (2) popular opinion is against a war; and (3) this might provoke efforts to establish an autonomous Kurdish state. The latter argument would seem to give them reason to support US troops, since one of our promises -- as I understand it -- would be that the US would help stem Iraqi-Kurdish flight into Turkey.
However, here is another explanation that I haven't heard put forth yet (perhaps because I haven't looked hard enough) that was prompted by an editorial in today's WSJ: Is Turkey worried about offending the French and making it even more difficult to get into the European Union? Chiraq's [intentional sic] warning to the East (new) European allies of the US probably resonated loudly in Istanbul. The recent decision by the European Court (see the WSJ editorial) should make it obviously clear that France and Germany have been yanking Turkey's chain for the past decade. There has been a great deal of stalling and delay as to Turkey's membership. Germany's concerned probably because of the large Turkish population that they are housing. And there's some tensions still with Greece, but it should be very clear that France has no intention in the short or medium-term to let Turkey into the EU.
Here's an idea: Turkey should screw the EU and set up a free trade zone with Eastern Europe on the way to a rival EU (though I'm not sure what you would call it). That would be a major wake-up call for Old Europe.
A "straight-to-the-heart-of-the-matter" piece by Pete DuPont, well worth reading and putting to work. I would love to hear Howard Dean answer these questions. Even Jack Chiraq.
By the way, I've often wondered if this Pete Du Pont is related to the chemical family and the crazy uncle who kills wrestlers? Pete puts a space between his last name; I don't think the chemical family does. I could be wrong on that though. Corrections welcomed.
I was part and parcel of something very stupid today, but I cannot tell any of you as it would reveal who John Lemon really is. All I ask is that you trust me on this and express mutual shock and outrage with me. Thank you.
A BREATH OF FRESH ARI...AND A CRAZY AUNT EMBARASSED
I was going to bring this news to you, but OTB got to it first. However, here is my addition to his blog:
I was watching Ari's news conference today while in the gym. I only listened to short portions of it because...well, just because. I thought to myself, compared to Clinton's press secretary's this guy is a real class act, a total professional. I mean if I had to pick a press secretary, it would be Ari Fleischer. He is patient, clear, concise, deliberate and knows exactly when to interject some humor. Compare this with the smug George Snuffleupagus [sic, of course] or Joe Lockhart. The latter had the unenviable task of speaking for Clinton during the Monica years. I always thought that he was thinking something different than what he was saying, and always looked a little rumpled. It also seemed as that Clinton went through press secretaries like Dumbo goes through Kleenex. Weren't Dee Dee Myers and David Gergen also on his press staff at some point in time?
The other thing I noticed at the press conference today relates to the crazy old aunt. Helen was sitting next to some reporter who was asking a question. The camera was focussed on the unidentified reporter (remember, I wasn't listening, just watching...and I don't collect journalist trading cards so I have no idea who this guy was). Well, Helen certainly knew that she was also on camera and she literally buried her face -- it was quite obvious that she was hiding from the camera. I think she really has been emotionally affected by the demotion in the seating ranks of the press corps. That's what happens when "objective" reporters spout off at the mouth about George W. Bush being, as Comic Book Guy would say and Helen did say, "the worst president ever."
A developing story from Drudge (link may not be good after awhile) reports the following via CQ:
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leaders said Wednesday they may push for as much as a 20-cent-a-gallon increase in the federal gasoline tax over the next six years. That is more than double the proposed 8.1-cent increase included in a plan they circulated just last week, CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY reports.
Now why isn't that price gouging? It will affect every gas station at the exact same time. In any other venue, this would be considered collusion. (I know we live in a representative democracy, and we yield some of our decision-making authority to elected officials, but I still think the analogy is appropriate.)
It has been observed that candidates like to run against Congress to get elected to Congress (e.g., "I'm not a fat cat like them, I'm just like you."). However, this may be taking it to the extreme.
In an article first brought to my attention on Taranto's Best of the Web, Congressman James Moran raised an age-old conspiracy theory that borders on anti-Semitism, if it doesn't indeed cross the line.
"If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq we would not be doing this," he said. "The leaders of the Jewish community are influential enough that they could change the direction of where this is going and I think they should."
Pretty strong stuff! If it wasn't for the conservative presence on the Web, talk radio or cable news (read: FoxNews), this would story would be DOA. It's not and today Britt Hume's Special Report -- probably the best news analysis show on TV -- did a follow up. Hume's reporters looked into Moran's background and found that he is prone to explosions like this, including physical confrontations. (I'll give the guy his temper as I'm not the most monotonic person around, but I draw the line at fistfights in Congress.) When pressed on his past record, Rep. Moran admitted to being "rough around the edges." But here is the best line from the interview, and I'm paraphrasing off a TV news report so the quote may not be exact.
"I may wear a tie, but I'm probably not meant to be in Congress."
Dear GOP in Virginia's 8th Congressional District: Could you please get a tape of that being aired on Britt Hume's Special Report (FoxNews 3/12/03) and play it over and over and over and over and over again during the next election season?
Loyal reader (one of apparently four, not including myself) Richard N. wrote to me pointing out an article by the appropriately-named Cindy Webb on anti-war websites. Richard further notes that in the spirit of balanced press coverage, she will do a story on conservative pro-war sites on Friday. He did me the favor of writing to Ms. Webb mentioning my website.
So Cindy, if you are listening, pick me, pick me! I need the publicity. I only have four loyal readers! I am also a scholarly man, not some redneck crackpot driving a pickup truck with a gunrack (the typical media image of conservatives). (I do own a pickup truck and SUV, though.) The reason I am "pro-war" is that Saddam is a very, very bad man, and he harbors ill intentions towards this great nation. He also cannot seem to keep a promise, has proven to be belligerent, has enough money to retire in Parisian mansion but chooses to keep developing WMDs (one must wonder why), and -- most importantly -- by backing down now, we will invite all sorts of malicious mischief around the globe. The best way to deal with North Korea is to disarm Saddam and his cronies in a convincing manner.
And although I loathe death and violence, I am about as pro-war as they come. Today I sent three boxes of Girl Scout cookies to our boys in the Gulf. Tallyho, lads!
I didn't know this, but apparently some of the Rolling Stones' lyrics have sexual references. Who woulda guessed? Next you are going to tell me that one of my other favorite bands -- The Clash -- sing about politics alot!
Seriously, I thought "Let's Spend the Night Together" was about a pillow fight at a slumber party, and "Brown Sugar" referenced my favorite compliment to the morning's oatmeal.
(If you are stymied by this revelation, please read the description to this blog in the upper left hand corner.)
From this story brought to my attention by PoliBlogger. All I know right now is that Elizabeth Smart was found in an unrestrained condition. In other words, she seemed to be a willing passenger in the car. Her alleged abductor was named "Emanuel" and looks like a hybrid between Charlie Manson and John Walker Lindh.
I predict that in the next few weeks, a very bizarre tale involving a fringe religion (or personalistic cult) is going to be told.
I am so glad this young woman was found alive. However, it is almost certain that this episode will leave a long-lasting emotional wound. I wish her and her family all the best.
OK Ono, I'm imagining it. My eyes are closed and I'm squinting to make every possible effort. Here is what I see. A democratic Iraq giving some legislative autonomy to the northern Kurdish region, though sharing revenues from oil production there. A Palestinian state run by someone without a Y in their name, dutifully stepping down after his single five year term. Former members of Hamas and Hezbollah peacefully working as landscape gardeners and computer program technicians. I got it. It is a pretty good image. Now, the question is just how to get there! But I suppose you already have a plan for that, eh?
I tuned in to the Michael Savage radio show while in the gym on Monday. That show was basically a self-celebration of his debut on MSNBC. That's fine. I've never been one to shy away from self-promotion, thus I have to give him that. However, he started whining that none of the other conservative media outlets -- magazines, websites, TV shows or radio programs -- did not pay attention to his debut. He noted that this is likely because some of these outlets don't want to draw attention to a competitor. Well, duh. That's how capitalism is Michael. You herald capitalism. Now learn to deal with it. Of all the conservative radio hosts out there, I find Savage to be the most difficult to listen to. He is a bit grating, arrogant and for a Ph.D. isn't all that skilled in argumentation. In many ways, he is the Howard Stern of conservative talk radio, which is not necessarily bad (I happen to think Howard Stern is very funny, especially when Gilbert Godfried is on). It's just not my style. Opinions anyone?
This worked really well with alcohol in the 1970s and '80s, when many colleges closed on-campus bars in response to the increased drinking age. Alcohol consumption is now non-existent on college campuses. The Oregon idea is so brilliant that we should consider it for illicit drugs; by prohibiting the sale of illegal drugs on campus, we will be able to end the drug problem. Sigh.
[Please note: John Lemon is a rabid anti-smoker, so I really don't care if the Ducks implement this suggestion or not. What I'm objecting to is some rather dumb reasoning in this article. The physicians feel that if the UO sells tobacco, it is sanctioning the use of tobacco. I really doubt most students see it this way. "Hey, my university no longer sells cigarettes, well golly, I think I'll stop smoking!" JL does also realize that marginal price increases may lower demand for the good, but it really depends on the price elasticity of the good. Since smoking is rather addictive, it is not likely to be very elastic. The one category of smokers most likely to be affected by this policy -- namely, social smokers -- are the ones most likely to purchase their cigs at places such as bars.]
I recently received an e-mail from a Helen Thomas of Washington DC.
Helen writes: "Mr. President, why am I sitting back here? Why won't you call on me for a question? Does it have something to do with the fact that I called you the worst president in US history? I don't see why you would be offended by that. Why is everybody laughing at me? Make it stop. Please make it stop!"
John Lemon replies: "Helen, this is a web log, not a White House press conference."
I didn't read this story, brought to my attention by PoliBlog, but from the headline I assume they are talking about a pilot episode of the "Al Franken Radio Show" that may be airing nationally soon. The headline?
Jordan Lee's world is completely different from his parents'. Jordan, 7, is the oldest child of Jon and Bernetta Lee, who are both completely blind. Jordan shushes his little sister, who was about to tattle on him for standing on the kitchen table.
In addition to Kofi's ringing endorsement for war (see post below), it seems that Mr. Annan has difficulty in differentiating between major pieces of real estate and small household appliances.
Let's remember that the crisis in Iraq does not exist in a vacuum.
No it doesn't. The crisis exists in the Middle East and has implications in North Korea, the Philippines and a whole host of other regions. However, it would be correct to say that just like my Hoover at home, Iraq does have a dirtbag that needs to be cleaned out.
In an otherwise wishy-washy and vacuous editiorial in the WSJ, Kofi Anan makes the case that we should send invade Iraq right now.
Sometimes it may be necessary to use force to deal with threats to the peace--and the charter makes provision for that. But war must always be a last resort. It should be used only when every reasonable alternative has been tried--in the present case, only if we are sure that every peaceful means of achieving Iraq's disarmament has been exhausted.
I went to renew my passport again today. I came prepared to wait in line with a walkman and the WSJ. However, I found out that they only accept renewals by mail nowadays. I am totally at a loss here folks. Seriously. Why would this be? In an era of enhanced homeland security, and with identity fraud being the "in" crime, it would seem that renewing this essential document would increase the points for mischieviousness. Granted you need a photo ID that matches with your old passport, but ten years is a long time to get wrinkled and plump, making the photo match hardly perfect. I would imagine that you would want to have a trained official meeting the renewer in person to ask one or two questions and observe behavior that would make those with criminal intent think twice about engaging in fraud. The anonymity of the mail-in method would seem to me to encourage people to attempt fraud.
Now I am well aware that the most likely explanation behind the mail-in is economies of scale. The mail-in method probably saves money, but I'm not sure how much. I would be interested to know. This method would also improve accessibility to passport services for people in rural Colorado, too, so yes it is convenient for the consumer. (Though my convenience is outweighed by the stress of wondering if it will get lost in the mail or if somebody will swipe my SSN and Passport No.). Why not just deputize a couple folks in each post office? Eh, that may not be much better...I really don't know.
Finally, I also thought it was funny that passport renewal turnaround takes roughly 6 weeks, but for an additional $60 you can get "expedited" service, which only takes two weeks. Last time I heard the word "expedited" and "two weeks" in the same sentence was in 1860!
The editor of Variety (an entertainment publication), Peter Bart, thinks the press is not liberal enough.
My favorite lines:
I used to read all those cover stories in business magazines heralding the genius of Kenneth Lay and Dennis Koslowski, but missed the pieces advising investors that they also happened to be crooks.
Ummm, Mr. Bart. Let me introduce you to Lexis-Nexis. Try doing a search on "Ken Lay" over the past 5 years. My guess is that the number of hits you get will be weighted toward articles appearing in the past 18 months or so. And if you do a content analysis of the reporting, you just may find that there is more reporting about Ken Lay's crooked ways than his business genius. Then again, you may have been reading Paul Krugman's advisory reports about Enron some years ago; I'm sure he would have vouched for Mr. Lay's integrity. (At least Bart was reading business magazines. I bet the editors of Salon had wished they did too.)
The press kept telling me what a great guy W [President Bush] was, so why has Mr. Nice Guy alienated every ally in the world?
Every ally? EVERY ally? Oh my God, this must mean France, Germany, Russia and Belgium have conquered the world and eliminated Australia, Britain, Spain, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Bulgaria, Kuwait, etc., etc.
Seriously, does this guy know how stupid he sounds. Stick to analyzing Britney Spears, will ya?
After six months in federal prison for civil disobedience, Father Bill O'Donnell returned home to a packed Berkeley church yesterday. The former pastor of Berkeley's Church of Saint Joseph the Worker was released Friday from the Atwater Federal Penitentiary after serving time for trespassing on a government base in November 2001. The 73-year-old priest was protesting the U.S. institute for allegedly training Latin American combatants in methods of execution. His time in prison, he said, did not deter him from continuing to protest. "Protesting is a way of life," the aging priest said. "You're never free of the responsibility to protest evil. Wherever lies are told, injustices committed, you have to protest—you have no choice." O'Donnell has been arrested 240 times, but this was the longest time in prison he has served. During sentencing, he called his judge a pimp for the Pentagon.
OK, let's play out the logic. Wherever/whenever their is injustice, we must protest. Protesting is a way of life. Now imagine if everybody had this "way of life." We would all spend out time protesting (though we probably wouldn't go to jail 240 times since all the police and jail guards would likely be protesting too). So with everyone protesting, there would be nobody doing anything that makes our economy move forward -- e.g., innovate new products, grow food -- thus there would be lots of unemployment. (Note: nobody would be attending school either, thereby freezing us in an era of perpetual stupidity.) And since unemployment is unjust, we would have to protest even harder, leading to more injustice. But the article continues...
O'Donnell encouraged people who have few personal obligations to help call attention to this "blight on the soul of the United States" by getting arrested. He plans to protest at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on Good Friday, two days before Easter. "We'll go get busted," O'Donnell said. "We kind of find ways of getting ourselves into jail. I mean, who cares? It's like getting a ticket." While in prison he received more than 2,000 letters from supporters—as many as 58 in one day. "Letters are one of the mainstays of survival for any inmate," O'Donnell said. The priest spoke to the high-spirited crowd about his experience in prison, including the time he had to clean six toilets, four urinals, 12 sinks and 13 showers, calling the experience extremely humiliating.
This sounds kind of disparaging to janitors -- you know, the working class. So let's have robots do that work...but, oh the screams about how this would lead to unemployment.
"The system is geared not for rehabilitation but for punishment," O'Donnell said. "You're just a number."
Well, if you've been arrested 240 times, it certainly indicates that at least you, Padre O'Donnell, are not getting the rehabilitation message. Next time, scrub a little harder.
From the Financial Times: France's president Jacques Chirac said on Monday that Paris will oppose a proposed new United Nations resolution that could authorise the use of force against Iraq. "Whatever happens, France will vote no," he said, in an interview at the Elysee Palace in Paris broadcast live on French television.
OK, so let's get this straight. President Bush is accused of being on a hard-headed rush to war, despite months and months of working with the U.N. (and Democrats in Congress). But the French will boycott any resolution in the UN authorizing force against Iraq. They must really care about Muslims, eh?
The French message sends a direct signal to Saddam to ignore the inspections. No matter how long we inspect, no matter what we find, the French will always veto a war resolution in the UN. The good thing, though, about French (in)action is that this might well make the UN irrelevant; it already is impotent.
I'm betting that France's position on Iraq is not only about the oil and weapons contracts. I'm betting that it is also about trying to avoid inflaming a large Muslim population within their own borders. Chiraq's strategy seems to be based on the philosophical foundation that if you look the other way, nothing will happen -- see no evil, hear no evil. But it is only a matter of time before this strategy wears thin. Remember that WWII saying, "first they came for the Jews and I did nothing...."
Chile is supposedly a swing vote on the UN Security Council. Just give them exactly what they want -- a free trade pact with the US. Hell, why stop there? How about one for the entire hemisphere. Trust me, we'll get the needed support from Santiago, Chileans will love us (and they have better wine than France, which is already cheaper), and everyone will benefit (consult David Ricardo).
What if during the next protest march, we lined the streets with thousands of TV sets and played Scooby Doo and Roadrunner cartoons as the peaceniks marched by -- do you think that would get an adult aggressive response?
Hey, you gotta admit that it's better than covering the Bundestaag in Saran Wrap or killing people with umbrellas!
One of the great things about the anonymity of the Blogosphere is that you can make stupid mistakes and no one can directly attribute them to you -- only your fictitious alter-ego. I recently received an e-mail telling me that the unionization of Cornell's graduate student body failed, hence if you need to get advice on your '97 Camaro, don't ask a historian at Cornell; they probably won't know. The "unionize grad students and make them mechanics" movement seems to date to be a largely public university problem (not surprisingly), but is starting to make inroads at the privates as well -- e.g., Yale and Columbia, and possibly another attempt at Cornell.
Again, my main question for any graduate student unionizer is the following: "Why do you think the UAW is interested in organizing graduate students?" (And folks, this is a rhetorical question; I know the answer.)