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Sunday, March 30, 2003
Out of the Loop
Some days I feel like I'm doing nothing but link to Josh Marshall. But how can I avoid it when he's so on point?
The White House is in such a state of pandemonium and implosion that they are discarding the policy -- indeed, they are positively undermining it -- in the hopes of insulating the president from the immense fall-out that they can see barreling down the track. Consider also that, saying the president was "out of the loop" -- seemingly a family failing -- on the central policy of his administration is a devastating admission of incompetence on its own. So that tells you what they think of the consequences of remaining attached to the policy.
It's looking more and more like the Bush administration is suddenly realizing that there will be no parades, no palm fronds, no joyous celebrations--only war, death, destruction, and if we're lucky, an uneasy peace. It would have been nice had they considered this possiblity before the war (jeez, I did, and I'm just a random guy). But now we find out that Bush, who was supposedly a swell, hands-off C-in-C, is pressuring the military to take Baghdad, ready or not. We find out that our fearless leader was not given dissenting views by his inner circle of advisors (chief among them Vice President Cheney). And the President, who was supposedly just reading newspapers and pondering the war is apparently tuned to Fox News and following along gleefully--or, lately, not-so-gleefully.
I supported this war. I still support it. But had I been sitting in the Oval Office, I might have pressed for an overwhelming force. I certainly wouldn't have pissed off everyone up to and including Turkey. I sure as hell would be actively courting dissenters, the better to hone our plan.
The failure of the Bush administration to do this is beyond terrible. It is unconscionable. If Iraq drags on past weeks into months--and only time will tell--then we will know who set our soldiers up, who truly supports them, and who must be removed from office at the next possible opportunity.
In Flanders Fields
Obligatory Non-War Post
My sister will be happy. Her alma mater Kansas is back in the Final Four (can I say that? Or do I have to refer to it as the Big Event, or some other kerfluffle? Damn licensing). Rock Chalk Jayhawk K.U.
We aren't losing. But we aren't winning, either
As I've noted before, I'm loath to fall into the trap of crying "we're losing, we're losing!" every time something goes less than perfectly for the U.S. and British forces in Iraq. We're still shy of two weeks into the war; it's hardly like the troops have been bogged down for months or years. We could take Baghdad this week, who knows?
But there are increasingly troubling signs that we have not prepared fully to fight this war. We faked war games to justify our desire to fight a small, limited war. We asserted that Basra would almost immediately fall to the U.S. and Brits, with happy liberated Shias waving palm fronds as we drove down main street. We just sort of assumed that Saddam was so bad that the Iraqis would welcome just about anyone if it meant being rid of him.
Undoubtedly, some Iraqis do. But our assumption that the Iraqi people would just roll over for an invading force has proven tragically wrong.
Over and over, I have said that I do not fear the war, but the peace. I still believe we will win this war (though a diplomat who emailed Josh Marshall wonders about that). But winning the peace is an altogether more difficult matter.
Consider: we hold most of the south of Iraq, including territory around Basra. But we hold no cities. That's due to the plan to attack Baghdad quickly and get Saddam out of power. But almost every city is proving to be trouble to U.S. and British supply lines. Terrorists and irregulars are harassing our troops at every turn. The irregulars are getting by far the worst of it. But they're trouble enough that they've delayed the invasion of Baghdad by about a week.
And this is in territory that we control.
So let's say we magically remove Saddam next week, and then it's just a matter of mop-up operations. Are the irregulars going to lay down their arms, once they're free of the iron boot of Saddam Hussein?
Please. We know the answer to that. Like any good guerilla insurgency, from Palestine to Vietnam to Revolutionary America, they will keep fighting, and keep dying, ad infinitum, waiting for us to capitulate. Our occupation of Iraq will not be bloodless and fun; it will be bloody and difficult.
If we had the support of the world, it would be different. The guerillas are less likely to attack Saudi peacekeepers than they are British Marines. Indeed, with support from NATO, the casualties would be spread throughout our allies.
But of course, we don't really have that many allies this time. This is a war of the Yanks, Brits, and Auzzies (with a few Poles thrown in). And it will be our sons and daughters who die.
Of course, we could have prepared better. For one thing, it's now becoming apparent that we simply did not have enough troops to make the kind of blitzkrieg assault on Baghdad that we wanted to. This is rapidly being laid at the foot of Donald Rumsfeld, and should be the occasion of his removal; he's been a terrible diplomat, and if he isn't capable in matters of defense, then he's got no claim on his office.
More than that, this needs to be laid at the foot of George W. Bush. By sending in too small a force, and failing to secure allied support, Bush has opened up our soldiers to attacks, to imprisonment, to death. At the very least, there will need to be many more Americans on the ground before Iraq can be secured; at worst, many more Americans will need to be on the ground before Baghdad can be secured.
Bush has talked the talk--yes, I know he said this would not be easy. But it was sort of like Gophers Hockey coach Don Lucia talking about how difficult an opponent Mercyhurst was. He was saying it because, you know, you don't speak ill of an opponent, lest you get overconfident.
Of course, we have been overconfident. Doubt it? Bush's long, hard war is budgeted to last a month. No money is budgeted for the post-victory occupation.
This is not an unjust war, and not an illegal war. There were reasons--good reasons--for the United States to engage Iraq. Fighting this war was not wrong. Fighting this war without a sufficient, overwhelming force is. And fighting it with the whole world against us--well, that's just stupid. We will find out very soon how stupid it was. I still hope for a fast end to this war. But those hopes are starting to wane.
UPDATE: Mickey Kaus has a great thought as to why Rumsfeld is trying to fight this war on the cheap. It's Iran, Stupid.
Saturday, March 29, 2003
I'm proud to say I'm the only search result for "Bill O'Reilly is a moron". But how can I be the only one?
Nicholas DeGenova is an idiot
Indeed. But I'd suspect few on the left would condone these views. (A few on the far left would, of course, but they also are opposed to electricity and any form of paper currency.)
12:42 AM. Time to go to bed. And as I am an honest Feck, good night unto you all.
War Poetry (Anti-War Corollary)
Ain't Gonna Study War No More
The Battle Hymn of the Republic
Uh, Yeah, Something
It's been a while since I posted...life is intervening. More on that later. I will try to get some war poems up tonight, if anyone's interested.
'Til then, check out Talking Points Memo, where Josh Marshall is working his usual wizardry:
Let's assume Bill Clinton had launched the country on a major war on the other side of the globe. Clinton's top military advisors had told him and his Sec Def that he was sending them to war gravely under-gunned, without all they needed to get the job done and protect the lives of American troops. Then let's assume that Clinton and his Sec Def ignored their advice. He and the Sec Def told the generals they didn't understand how modern wars were fought and sent them out anyway. And then let's assume that the generals and admirals warnings were rapidly confirmed on the battlefield with a bogged down offensive and an escalating number of American casualties. Do you think Clinton and his Sec Def might be in some hot water? Yeah, me too.
As Glenn Reynolds would say: heh.
Tuesday, March 25, 2003
Meanwhile, Josh Marshall brings the goods.
I mention Josh Marshall's site so often here I should get a stipend. But where else do you get cogent analysis like this? Further proof that the U.S.'s diplomacy in the run-up to the war was, how do you say? Ah yes, crap. I've said it before, I'll say it again: this war does not magically make the Bush administration's massive diplomatic failings less important. It just pushes the debate aside for now, as it's moot. When the war ends, we'll have some time to discuss our Fearless Leader's failings.
Points for Honesty
I also think that we hawks might have under-estimated the Iraqis' sense of national violation at being invaded - despite their hatred of Saddam.
Give Andrew Sullivan credit, he's at least broaching what is becoming obvious: the Iraqis may not love Saddam, but they're not sure they want to be invaded, either.
You can't fault them. Iraq is their home. They don't know what the Americans are going to do with the country after they take over. (Heck, I'm not sure we know what we're going to do with Iraq after we take it over). The war may be just. It may even be the best thing for the Iraqi people, long-term. But the idea that we were going to be welcomed with open arms has turned out to be flatly wrong. Time may change that. I hope it does.
Sandstorms Slowing Assault
Vicious sandstorms are slowing the assault on Baghdad, although U.S. and British forces have advanced to within sixty miles of the Iraqi capital. Meanwhile, CBS News is reporting that there is a "red line" around Baghdad, the crossing of which will result in an Iraqi chemical attack. (But I thought they didn't have them!) It could be a rough few days. But that doesn't mean we're losing.
Obligatory Non-War Post
The University of Minnesota's women's basketball team has advanced to the sweet sixteen for the first time in the program's history. For a historical perspective, this is a team that was 10-18 (3-13 in the Big Ten) in 2000-2001. Rah rah rah for Ski U Mah.
One of the great soliloquies in the English language:
Henry V, Act 4, Scene 3
Monday, March 24, 2003
Michael Moore is a Big Fat Idiot
James Poniewozik at Time eviscerates Michael Moore for his foolish Oscar speech. Perhaps the most telling about Moore--and much of the peace movement:
...it was a shrill harangue that would make a person ashamed even for agreeing with it. By starting off his screed by attacking the legitimacy of George W. Bush's election, he committed the same mistake as too many leaders of the antiwar movement, such as the leaders of ANSWER: he couldn't resist the temptation to lump his antiwar stance in with the rest of his portfolio of grievances. As a result, he made a speech guaranteed to alienate even many people who are also against the war.
A little of both, I suspect. If Michael Moore wasn't Michael Moore, he'd be one of those random protesters carrying a "Hitler/Stalin/Bush/Blair" sign, claiming a majority of the country was against the war and Bush wanted to kill Iraqi children. And no blood for oil.
It's root, root root for the Cubbies, if they don't win it's the same....
Jayson Stark thinks the Chicago Cubs could be this year's Angels. As a third-generation Cubs fan (and not for nothing, but none of those three generations have seen a World Champion), I can only say: it's a beautiful day for a ballgame, let's play two!
More War Poetry
...can be found at Tacitus' site.
Saddam Praises Iraqi Military Officer. Who Surrendered.
The big Saddam speech was short on specifics. Oh, sure, he mentioned fighting in Umm Qasr, and Basra, but since there was no way for the Americans and Brits to invade without going through Basra and Umm Qasr, that's not a leap. Hussein also failed to mention the capture of American POWs--which one would think he would have.
But most intriguing was that among officers he singled out for praise was the commander of the Iraqi 11th Brigade, which was defending Basra. The thing is, the commander surrendered to U.S. and British forces almost immediately after the war began. Hardly the officer you'd single out for praise.
Of course, this doesn't prove Saddam is dead or injured. It doesn't prove he's alive, either. It doesn't prove much of anything.
Turn on the Telly....To the BBC! To the BBC! Yeah, yeah, yeah!
My little BBC insanity moment came over lunch today. While listening to the BBC interview a middle east media observer. The exchange went something like this:
BBC Fellow (I picture John Cleese on Monty Python, at a desk in the middle of a field): So how is the western media performing in the Middle East?
At this point my head exploded, although I seem to remember someone likening al-Jazeera to Fox News, which cheered me somewhat.
Of course, the Iraqi media has been spot on. They've been absolutely right about the large civilian casualties (oh, wait, no they weren't), the American pilot who ditched over Baghdad (oh, wait, not they weren't), and Saddam being alive (of which there is no proof either way).
I thought Andrew Sullivan was being cute with the Baghdad Broadcasting Corporation schtick, but the unbelievable inbalance in coverage is staggering. As I've said before, I think the BBC sort of provides for the left what Fox News provides for the right: a nice mouthpiece that says everything you want it to.
Neither, though, provides much by way of truth.
Obligatory Non-War Post
Watched a little bit of the Oscars, and have only this to say: there's something very odd about a group of people that is willing to give a major award to a convicted rapist. Maybe it's just me.
UPDATE: I do commend the Oscars for actually choosing the best song for best song. "Loose Yourself" was a gutsy choice, not least because it was by Eminem. It is also the first rap song to win the award. Good call.
In keeping with my promise of a war poem for every day, here's todays. Warning to warbloggers--this one is not pro-war.
Dulce Et Decorum Est
For those who aren't up on their Latin, the "old Lie" is “Sweet it is and beautiful to die for the fatherland.”
It was nice to get away from blogging for the weekend. I grilled out on Saturday (it was in the sixties here in Minnesota--not bad for late March), went out shopping last night, tried to watch the NCAA Tournament--and generally detach from the war for a while.
But it's hard to detach when this is going on (warning: that link will take you to the infamous pictures at al-Jazeera.) There is new and disturbing evidence that the dead Americans were taken prisoner, and then executed.
So far, the Iraqis are in violation of the Geneva Convention all over the place. To wit:
Likewise, prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity.
Remember, the questions on Iraqi TV were in Arabic. I'm guessing most American soldiers don't speak Arabic.
Of course, on Andrew Sullivan's site, a reader writes in to say:
Watching BBC World Service when this remarkable utterance was made in respect of the captured US soldiers - "In a war where public opinion is as important as what happens on the field of battle today saw a true public relations disaster." Initially I agreed - openly parading your barabarism should clarify for everyone the nature of the Baathist regime - but it rapidly became evident that in the inverted moral universe of the BBC the public relations disaster they referred to was one that affected the Coalition and the US only - it was a PR disaster that these prisoners had been captured. That some of them had been obviously executed in cold blood and the rest were being put through a course in which the Iraqi intended to break every other Geneva convention with just this small group was not something that would reflect badly on the Iraqi's - and anyway the Iraqi disinformation minister had said that they were being treated well.
Of course, the BBC has been about as evenhanded as former White Sox southpaw Jim Abbott, as Lileks notes beautifully:
Overview at the top of the ahhr: Heaviest fighting of the woh, and the Arab world is rallying to Iraqi cause. (The audio backing up the latter assertion is from the Iraqi foreign minister. Surely I misheard this; surely they said that “Iraqis insist that the Arab world is rallying." I must have suffered Temporary Yank-Centric Deafness, but maybe not; the Beeb runs more Iraqi responses than any other network. While driving around on Saturday, the Beeb ran a clip from a Brit spokesman describing a battle, then ran the Iraqi blabberjaw insisting that Iraqi forces were still engaged in battle, killing the enemy, and that the Loser Zionist Rumsfeld tongue should be accursed and struck with shoes, and we should all hope that monkeys defecate in his moustache, etc. Then came a guest from Warshington, and the presenter said “so who should we believe, then?” A charitable listener would ascribe the brief, stunned pause that followed to the natural lapse in transatlantic communications.)
We're Losing! We're Losing!
But of course, the dominant story seems to be how we're losing this war. Why, dozens of Americans are dead! Let's just fold up and go home.
Lovely as it would be if war was simply a giant game of paintball, this is ridiculous. Look, this is war. That's why many people were deeply ambivalent about it. But if you're going to fight a war, you are going to have casualties. Indeed, in many ways, the reason we have as many casualties as we do is that we are trying hard to keep casualties consigned to actual soldiers. If we wanted a bloodless war, we could have had Kosovo II--nothing but bombing raid after bombing raid, until the Iraqis gave up or died. We've chosen a more difficult path for us, one that will inevitably lead to more American deaths.
Sad as those deaths are, though, if the cause is just, then we must press forward. If there is one small saving grace, it is that all of the American soldiers chose to be there--they went into their profession with eyes open. They weren't drafted, and they aren't serving against their will. I am grateful that they chose to serve--and grateful to those who laid down their lives for us. And mad as Hell at a government that would execute prisoners of war. Fight on, guys. And win.
Friday, March 21, 2003
Clear Channel, Defender of the State
Clear Channel allegedly threatened to pull the plug on Ani DiFranco if she uttered anything political at a Clear Channel-sponsored concert.
Now, you may or may not know of Ani, a folk singer-songwriter with her own label. I was decently infatuated with Ani back in the day (before I met my wife, of course). She's got a way with words, she's a dynamic performer, she's everything good about music. Of course, she's failed to reach mainstream success because she's chosen to record all her own music, and she's stridently liberal.
Ani's way to the left of me. So what? Ani's been political since forever. I would be shocked to go to a concert of hers and not hear anti-war speeches. (I wouldn't agree with them, but I'd be surprised not to hear them). Sure, Clear Channel has rights too, yada yada. They need to realize that they're promoting an artist who wrote "Out Of The Range" and "Coming Up." And the fact that they didn't seem to makes me wonder who they think they are.
William Saletan Agrees With Me
Vis a vis the anti-war protesters. He says:
If you're an anti-war protester or politician, this theory of warfare should change the way you think and act. Your efforts to generate resistance to the war before there is any evidence of killing, much less atrocities, contribute to the political strength of the enemy regime. You encourage uncertainty about the war's outcome, increasing the likelihood that the regime's soldiers will fight and die. You make it more difficult to separate the regime from its people. You frustrate the tipping and bring on the crushing.
I couldn't put it better.
Shock and Awe
You knew it was coming.
Now, thank God, our news channels have got their war porn, and can move on to actually covering the war, as opposed to moping about how we just haven't seen that big a strike yet.
Also, now that we've sufficiently Shocked and Awed, we can finally be free of that saying.
Okay, I've been a good soldier. Since the bombing started, I've been pretty supportive of the war. (Truthfully, I've never been that opposed to it). I've even taken the blowtorch to anti-war protesters (who, IMHO, are driving more people into the pro-war camp than any other single group.)
But just because I'm supportive of the war doesn't mean I've become dumb.
So here we go....
Hello, Bush Administration? Yes, it's me, Jeff, the guy who writes Blog of the Moderate Left. Yeah, anyhow, I've got just one thing to say to you.
QUIT LYING TO US.
Look, we know there were reasons to go to war, and we know there were reasons to bypass the UN. Not everyone--including me--thought it was a good idea at the time, but we'll leave water over the bridge where Jesus flang it.
But stop this idiotic charade of pretending that we're supported by more countries than we were in '91. We aren't. It's not even close.
Yes, forty-some countries are listed as supporting this war, versus 36 in 1991. But those 36 countries all contributed troops. We don't even count nations who were supportive of us in '91 among the 36. (Among them: the USSR, which authorized force; Lichtenstein, which contributed money to pay for passage of ships through the Suez Canal; and Japan, which paid $4 billion to help defray costs of the war).
If you're using the 1991 figure of 36 supportive countries, then the number of supportive countries in 2003 is three. Let's list 'em, shall we?
1991: Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Honduras, Italy, Kuwait, Morocco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Korea, Spain, Syria, Turkey, The United Arab Emirates, The United Kingdom, and the United States.
2003: Australia, The United Kingdom, and the United States.
Okay, the Netherlands may send some ships in support. But still, it's no contest. It's not even close. We had far more nations on our side in 1991.
This isn't a misstatement of facts. It's a lie.
Now, I know y'all are sensitive to the charge that you're too unilateral this time. But guess what? You're too unilateral this time. Lying isn't going to change my mind, or the minds of any of us who are supporting your war but still think you butchered our foreign policy.
If you didn't feel you were too unilateral--if you had the courage of your convictions--then you'd simply stand up and admit that this was a smaller coalition than last time, but the cause was no less just. But when you lie, it makes me wonder why you feel the need to lie--and what it is you have to hide.
I Love This Country
Tacitus is reporting that Fox News showed marines fresh off their attack on Umm Qasr.
They were praying to Mecca.
God Bless the USA, whatever God you choose. That, in a nutshell, is why I love America.
"Saddam is Done"
At least one town is welcoming the Marines.
Iraqis in Safwan were guarded but optimistic after U.S. forces siezed the town, pulling down portraits of Saddam Hussein.
A few men and boys ventured out, putting makeshift white flags on their pickup trucks or waving white T-shirts out truck windows.
Let's hope this is a preview of things to come.
You Saddam, Whassup?
According to Drudge (so take with a grain of salt), eyewitnesses reported seeing an injured Saddam Hussein carried from the bunker. An analyst on Fox last night indicated that he thought Saddam might be injured but alive. Whatever. It's becoming apparent that there is little control of the Iraqi military--some are fighting, some aren't. No Iraqi planes have gone up. The threatened attack on Israel hasn't materialized. There is fighting in Umm Qasr and Basra, but nothing coordinated. Either Saddam is dead, or he's too injured to lead, or he's okay, but so rattled that he simply isn't leading. No matter what, it's good for the U.S. and Brits. Good for us, trying to take down Saddam right off the bat. Double good if we succeeded, and triple good if we postmarked Uday for Hell. (The rumors that he has a brain hemorrhage seem to indicate it's a possibility).
In my continuing quest to edify (or at least sound cool), I've decided to try to offer one war poem a day for the duration of the war. Some will be pro-war, some anti. But all have something important to say.
My first selection is by T.S. Eliot, my favorite poet. (I know, I'm an American. I should despise poetry. If you think poetry is all rubbish, read Eliot.)
To the Indians Who Died in Africa
We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.
Obligatory Non-War Post
Monica Lewinsky is back baby fo' shizzle! 'Cause you know, I think we've all been thinking lately, "I'd love to watch television, but only if a former President's mistress is hosting the show."
U.S. Raises Flag over Umm Qasr
The U.S. has not completely secured the city, but it's still a good sign.
Shut Up, War Protesters
Okay, I've officially had it with the anti-war protesters. While driving into work I was listening to NPR coverage of the Minneapolis anti-war protesters. You had the usual suspects, the high school kids who may have been well-intentioned but who showed little understanding of the details of the situations. You had the crazy radicals saying that they know nobody who is against the war. (Since 70% of Americans are for it, at least a little, that tells you they don't get out much.) The people who say that they're fighting the war because nobody deserves to die--a sentiment that Saddam Hussein never has shared.
I first made note of this over at Pandagon's site, and thought I should add it here.
Hello, anti-war protesters?
Shutting down San Francisco isn't going to change that. You've lost the day, and all you can do now is anger the middle, those people, like me, who have been ambivalent about the war.
If I was running the anti-war movement I'd change tactics. I'd say something like, "We oppose this war. We don't believe in it, we think it's wrong. But we understand it's a moot point. This war is happening. We aren't going away--we will continue to watch, to make sure that this war is conducted fairly, and with a minimum of civilian casualties. And we will work like sin to make sure the people who put this war together are voted out of office. But we do support our troops, and we hope that this war ends soon, so Americans and Iraqis alike can go home to their families. Since we know that the only way for this war to end quickly is for a decisive American victory, that is our hope today."
If anti-war protesters said that, it would change the tone and tenor of debate--and rally centrists who are ambivalent about the war--people like me--to their cause.
Instead, they will continue to stand up and say "No blood for oil! Bush=Hitler! Free Mumia! End capitalism! We will not be ignored!"
But they will be ignored. They already have been.
Quebecois boo Star Spangled Banner
Fans in Montreal booed the U.S. national anthem before a Canadiens-Islanders tilt. (The Isles won, 6-3). I'd go off on a rant here, but the fact is that it only takes a small percentage of idiots to make a lot of noise. I haven't seen the video, but I'm willing to bet that we're not talking about a majority of fans, or even a large minority.
Iraqis readying chemical weapons?
So says the Washington Times. Scary. Then again, it is the Washington Times, so there's only a 32% chance it's true.
He Is the guy who coined misunderestimate
Andrew Sullivan, of all people, is reporting that we were stuck with the two resolution plan at the UN thanks to a bad Bush ad-lib. According to British sources, Bush was supposed to give a speech calling for a UN resolution. But the line was left off the teleprompter, forcing Bush to make something up on the fly. Being George Bush, he said they would work with the UN on all necessary resolutions. Giving the French, in particular, the idea for a multi-resolution solution--and ginving us months of headaches in the Security Council.
Now that's not very good strategery.
Dulce et Decorum
Initial casualty reports from the helicopter crash were off. There were four American casualties and eight British casualties. Also, a member of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force has become the first casualty in combat.
I am profoundly grateful for your sacrifice, and my thoughts and prayers are with the families of the deceased.
Blix: Iraqis In Violation
Will this provide the U.S. enough evidence to push through a new resolution? Golly gee, I hope so.
Thursday, March 20, 2003
Obligatory Anti-War Post
MItch Berg reports that Target Market is shutting down. Huzzah! No more will I have to watch those obnoxious ads tacitly indicating that we should kill tobacco executives. Oh, and he's redesigned his site, too, so stop on by and complement him on a site that's no longer done in earth tones! (I like it, fwiw)
That Vaunted Anti-War Tolerance
A fire at American University's Anderson Hall started when someone set an anti-Saddam flyer aflame. Of course, the housing director spends most of her time noting how the flyer was not officially approved for posting, and on the arsonist, notes only that an incident such as this was not unexpected.
All right, I want the hard core lefties on the bus. Now.
Casualties of War
A U.S. helicopter has gone down in Kuwait. It was carrying twelve Americans and four Britons. No immediate information about casualties, but of course, when a helicopter crashes, one doesn't usually expect survivors.
Ted Rall would tell me not to support these people. I offer them my deepest thanks, and my thoughts and prayers are with these soldiers' families.
There's a rumor going around that the Tariq Aziz rumor from yesterday was actually a clever way for us to smoke out Aziz. When he went on television, the story goes, we got a fix on his position, and followed him to the secret underground lair, which we promptly attempted to obliterate. Don't know if it's true, but it's a helluva operation if so.
Or did we get Saddam?
Drudge thinks maybe. At any rate, there's circumstantial evidence that senior Iraqi leadership is out of communication with forces on the ground according to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. What this means is anyone's guess. The fog of war, indeed.
Ground Attack Imminent
According to reports on Minnesota Public Radio, U.S. ground forces have been ordered to suit up and prepare for battle. Drudge says U.S. armed forces have now fired on Iraqi troops.
The Fog of War
Glenn Reynolds has said many times that once the war begins, we'll have little good information, and a lot of mis- or disinformation. Well, here are the things that Fox News reported last night that have not come to fruition (at least not yet):
1) Five of Iraq's top advisors, including possibly Saddam Hussein, were dead.
2) Two Iraqi divisions in southern Iraq, making up about 2/3 of troops in that area, were preparing to surrender to American and British forces.
3) The U.S. attach on Saddam was aimed at a northern Palace, not at Baghdad.
4) Geraldo Rivera is a journalist.
We'll keep watching the skies.
And did anyone else notice that Saddam Hussein wears the same glasses as the late Chicago Cubs play-by-play guy Harry Caray?
Or Maybe Not....
Now, don't misread me: we're at war. We took a good shot at Saddam Hussein, but missed. We blew up an oil depot. We've received the surrender of 17 Iraqi soldiers.
But we're not at war yet. Not really. There's no "shock and awe" yet, no reckless grab for Basra. Just a few cruise missiles. It's almos a Clintonian attack.
That will change, of course. If a few cruise missiles would destroy Iraq, Clinton would have accepted their surrender in 1998. There will be shock and awe, and probably soon. But not yet, not yet.
Really Important Stuff
Rep. John Carter (R-TX) is advocating jailing college-age file traders.
"What these kids don't realize is that every time they pull up music and movies and make a copy, they are committing a felony under the United States code," Carter said in an interview. "If you were to prosecute someone and give them three years, I think this would act as a deterrent."
As ConfigSys.boy notes:
What this apparently technologically challenged senator fails to realize is that the age demographic of song swappers is steadily broadening to include a lot more than just kids. What he fails to realize is that MY MOM DOWNLOADS SONGS! (Maybe his does too!!)
They just--don't--get it.
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
This is not, repeat not from The Onion
Justice Antonin Scalia has requested broadcast media be banned from an event where the distinguished jurist is due to receive the City Club of Cleveland's Citadel of Free Speech Award.
You can't make it up.
Rumors that the war has already started. Or maybe not. Truth be told, we probably won't know we're at war until a while after we're at war. (Sometime around 7:01 PM CST would be my guess, but we shall see.)
Gulf War II: The Vengeance
From The Onion. Among the fun:
"Gulf War I was done 11 years ago, and war-making technology has advanced tremendously since then," Rumsfeld said. "From the guns to the planes to the missile-guidance systems, what you'll see in this one puts the original Gulf War to shame."
The whole story is here.
It ain't nothin' but a heartbreaker....
Josh Marshall is on, as per usual.
For people who oppose this war I strongly recommend moving on from it in this very specific sense. This war is about to happen. But there are still two very important issues that hang in the balance that deserve serious attention. The first, though more long-term, is the necessity of as rapidly as possible restoring our relationships with our historic allies and beginning to repair our standing in the world. This makes the 2004 election far more important than it was before. But we'll get into that later.
Read the whole post. It does sound a little bit like our policy is defined by the Tenacious D song "Hornet's Nest":
Actually, I don't know if it is, but it's a good excuse to post the lyrics to "Hornet's Nest."
Tariq Aziz Defecting?
That's the word according to Sky News. Then again, Al Bawaba says Aziz has been shot dead. Developing....
UPDATE: Nope, it's a rumor. He didn't defect after all. Kos is saying he won't report news until it's been confirmed, but what's the fun in that? The fact is nobody save U.S. and British Central Command is going to have a good idea of what's really going on. I intend to continue to publish rumors, innuendo, and half-truths--I will correct as required.
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
Blair Wins Big
The vote authorizing force passed 412 to 149. 140 Labour backbenchers voted against the resolution, but Blair still won a majority of Labourites, and assuming the war in Iraq goes swiftly and well, he should survive politically.
Get Over Yourself
I don't care if the Oscars go on as scheduled. I don't care if the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament is delayed. It doesn't matter much either way. And that's just it. By publicly agonizing about whether you should delay your event out of respect for our soldiers, you are showing them no respect. Nobody cares if you have your little awards show or your little basketball tournament. It's not a big deal. Make a decision and go with it. And shut up.
A Sad Day For Vegetarianism
According to Fraters Libertas, the Mud Pie restaurant in Minneapolis is closing down. Of course, the good conservatives greet the story with glee; I greet it with sadness.
When you're married to a vegetarian, as I am, you soon realize that going out to eat is a bit of a game. Most restaurants have something on the menu that's vegetarian (with the exception of steakhouses and, for some reason, Pizza Hut), but what that something is can vary widely. At many restaurants, that something is a baked potato, or a salad (but only if you remember to ask they remove the turkey, and only if they heed your request).
Mud Pie was different, of course. Everything on the menu was vegetarian, most things vegan. And Mud Pie proved to me that it's a lot easier for a carnivore to go vegetarian than vice versa. I enjoyed going to Mud Pie; it was nice for my wife to actually be able to order more than three different things from the menu. And their tacos were pretty darn good, whether they had meat in them or not.
I never have understood the general conservative anti-vegetarianism. I understand being anti-some-vegetarians--the ones who feel it requisite to lecture all of us on how we're killing animals. But many vegetarians--my wife included--are simply happy to not eat meat, and leave it to others to make their own moral conclusions; libertarianism in action. These people have earned no emnity. They just want to not eat meat. Good for them. The loss of Mud Pie leaves the vegetarian community a little poorer today. And I'm sorry to see it go.
Mich Loves Arlon
Well, not exactly, but Mitch Berg is sticking up for Arlon Lindner (R-Dayton), the idiot GOP State Rep who has, in the past couple weeks, argued that the gays caused Naziism, that evidence of persecution of gays during World War II is revisionist history, and that if we don't strip gays of their human rights, we risk turning America into "another Africa." Now, I like Mitch; he's a conservative, but he doesn't make any bones about it. But his defense of Lindner is just plain wrong.
As always, the defense goes something like this: Arlon Lindner is wrong, but hey, he has the right to speak his mind. That's what the First Amendment is for. And besides, the DFL is just beating him up because they don't have anything better to do.
I always love the partisans on both sides who will leap to the defense of the First Amendment when one of "their guys" starts saying something dumb. (For a liberal version, see the defenders of A.N.S.W.E.R.) The First Amendment does give people the right to say dumb things, and thank God. Nobody, least of all me, is suggesting that Rep. Lindner shouldn't be allowed to quote from The Pink Swastika and argue that gays caused Shakespeare in Love to beat out Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture. He's entitled to his boorish, moronic views, as I'm allowed to call those views boorish and moronic.
But nobody's suggesting Lindner be muzzled. Nor is anyone suggesting that Lindner should be removed from office, other than by popular vote of his constituents in 2004. What the Democrats believe--as do I--is that a person who espouses such ignorant and wrongheaded views is unfit to serve as Chair of a standing committee in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
Call it the Trent Lott docrtine. Nobody thought Trent Lott should resign his seat in the U.S. Senate. Indeed, as long as Mississippi wants to keep sending him back to Washington, they should be able to. That's what democracy is about. But the Republican party shouldn't have such a man as their leader--and to their credit, the Republican party no longer does.
Arlon Lindner should continue in the legislature until his district decides they're tired of him. But unless he's willing to educate himself beyond The Turner Diaries, he is unfit to chair a committee in the House. If the GOP has any guts, they'll remove him. If not, they'll hide behind Lindner's free speech rights, and hope it goes away. It won't, of course; these things never really do.
At least one good thing has come from this. The drive to strip away civil rights protections from gays--already on the ropes thanks to Gov. Pawlenty's opposition--has pretty much come undone. If the GOP is incapable of removing these protections with a solid House majority and a Republican governor, they stand little hope of ever succeeding. Good.
War! Huh! Good God, Y'all....
Let me clear my throat....
1) We are going to war. If all of you on the anti-war fringe want to continue to protest, please, go right ahead. That's what democracy is all about. But if your intention is to attempt to interfere with our military's ablility to conduct the war, please don't. The best you can hope for is that you only kill some American soldiers--men and women who are just following the orders of their civilian commanders. You will not save Iraqi lives--if anything, by prolonging the war you will cost more. I have my own doubts about this war, but these actions would be treason, pure and simple.
2) Saddam Hussein has already rejected the Bush ultimatum (and called on Bush to step down). We'll probably still give Iraq 48 hours--hey, there's always a chance for a coup d'etat. But the situation has crystalized.
3) Yes, the French hate us, sure. But they have said they would assist the U.S. if chemical weapons are used against U.S. troops.
4) America has rallied 'round the President. Well, right. I'd count myself in the pro-war camp right now, I guess. We're going, anyhow, so better to support it and see it through. This does not mean that magically, the Bush Administration has done a great job with diplomacy. They have not. And we'll be reaping the fruits of our diplomatic failure for years.
5) Good luck to the troops. No matter what you believe about this war, the men and women who are serving our country deserve our support--no matter what Ted Rall says. They are not in charge of deciding whether this is a just war. That's the President's job. All our soldiers, marines, aviators, and sailors do is fight where they're told to fight. Some of our troops will not come home from Iraq. Others will, but with scars--physical or psychological--that may never heal. For this, they deserve our gratitute, and yes, ticker-tape parades and cheering receptions at airports.
The blogging will get hot and heavy, and probably pretty serious across the blogosphere now.
Let's all pray for a quick and relatively painless war--for both sides. And let's pray for victory.
Monday, March 17, 2003
The much-heralded by the war-bloggers USA Today Poll shows a high level of conditional support for the wars. "Why, it's a two-to-one margin in support!" cry the war-bloggers.
Erm, not exactly. Support for a war is at 58%. But support drops to 54% without a U.N. resolution. And--wait for it--support is only 47% if the Bush Administration fails to submit to a U.N. vote--which is precisely what is happening.
So what is popular support? Well, based on the polling data and what's happening here in reality, support is at 47%. That's about right. It doesn't mean anything, of course--by Friday, we'll be at war, even if 99% of Americans oppose it. All we can hope for is a swift and speedy resolution to the conflict and a well-waged peace. The jury's still out on that, of course.
Top Five Films of All Time
5. The Shawshank Redemption
4. Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
3. The In-Laws
2. The Princess Bride
As compiled by me.
Fmr. Sen. Moynihan in Critical Condition
Former Senator Daniel P. Moynihan (D-NY) is in critical condition after his appendix burst, causing infection.
The 76-year-old former Senator represented New York from 1977 to 2001. He had a reputation as one of the deepest thinkers in Washington, willing to look at a situation from many different angles. After surrendering his seat to current Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Moynihan took his current position as a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson center.
My thoughts and prayers are with Sen. Moynihan and his family. I hope for a speedy recovery.
Bush to Address Nation
I'm sure he'll tell us that the war is off.
No, seriously, the Oval Office address is going to lay the groundwork for war. Tomorrow's Oval Office address will tell us we are, in fact, at war.
I don't know quite how to feel. I support the war in general--Saddam must be ousted. But I wouldn't mind taking a month or two and trying to repair the breech with, well, everyone else.
Too late, though. We're going to war. I hope it goes fast, I hope a lot of Iraqi units surrender without bloodshed, I hope we win.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Or as The Onion calls it, the reinforcin' o' the stereotypes.
My favorite St. Patrick's Day joke ever:
Q: What's Irish and sits around on the porch all summer?
A: Paddy O'Furniture.
Saturday, March 15, 2003
The Tolerant Pro-War Folks
Okay, there's a lot of boneheaded anti-war stuff going around, "No Blood for Oil" being just the tip of the iceberg. Plenty of celebrities have said phenomenally stupid things. Chrissie Hynde even said she hopes the U.S. loses the war.
But did the Dixie Chicks really say anything so bad that people should be protesting them and demanding stations pull them from the air?
They're ashamed that GDub is from Texas. I would be too. Bush is doing such a lousy job of just about everything right now that he may be our worst President since Harding. He's certainly our worst President since Carter. And even Jimmy managed to use diplomacy in the middle east.
What the Dixie Chicks did not say: we oppose our troops, Bush=Hitler, Drop Bush Not Bombs, etc.
Natalie Maines expressed an anti-war opinion. Well guess what. She's allowed. As I noted before, I've swung anti-war--for now. But if Natalie Maines would have stood up and said "We're proud the President is from Texas," it wouldn't affect my generally warm feelings for the group in the slightest. They're allowed their political views just like I'm allowed mine and you're allowed yours. And their opinion is shared by about 50% of Americans. They didn't come out against our troops, they didn't come out against America, they came out against our President, and his too-coherent war policy (that policy being: war. You got a problem with that?)
There are a lot of artists saying truly stupid things right now. The Dixie Chicks aren't among them. They expressed a mainstream political view. If you can't deal with the fact that some people might not like George W. Bush, shut 'er down. Because you're in for a lifetime of disappointment.
People are going to disagree with you. They're going to have different opinions than you. And when you get even more mature, you'll learn that in fact, those people who disagree with you could, in fact, be right. They probably aren't--but they could be.
Now sometimes, those opinions are outrageous, like Chrissie Hynde or Arlon Lindner. And sometimes, yes, you should protest those opinions, and decide not to buy that album, and call to complain.
But sometimes, the person is just expressing a mainstream political opinion that happens to be in opposition to yours. Guess what? It's a democracy. Deal with it. The Dixie Chicks did not say anything ridiculous or offensive here. And they're getting screwed.
I haven't bought Home yet, but I think I might on my way home today. In fact, I think I will.
Natalie Merchant is self-releasing her next album. I don't really care. Since Merchant left 10,000 Maniacs, she's been adrift in a sea of ego (see: "Wonder").
But Merchant is hardly alone. Prince is self-releasing his music. Ditto Aimee Mann. Ani DiFranco has never done anything but self-release, and while she isn't a household name, she's certainly not living check to check.
Meanwhile, in cyberspace, a bunch of folks have started writing their own columns on just about everything, with no major media backing. Self-publishing and on-demand publishing are allowing people to publish books without getting a publishing deal, even if the book ends up being the worst ever written.
Maybe it's me. It probably is. But I feel like there's something coming up, something big, something that's going to change everything.
Call it the DIY revolution.
More and more, people are starting to realize that the contract with AOL Time Warner, or Pendant Publishing, or Sony Music isn't quite the magic carpet ride it seems. More and more, people who lack the connections to get said contract are finding ways to get their work out regardless. Established artists are moving away from the media companies that created them. Not all, of course. Not even the vast majority. But a few. Here and there. Now and then.
I think we may be reaching the beginning a post-conglomerate media era. An era where artists and writers create their own works and distribute them, and reap all the profits (or losses). An era where creative control is put back in the hands of the creators.
This is not to say mass media is going away; in many ways, it's too big to fail. But it will take a hit. As people realize they can get their works outside of traditional channels, it will whittle away the advantages of the mass media.
I don't know where this will go. I don't even know if it will. But I just have this sense that something big is happening. And I can't shake the feeling.
Friday, March 14, 2003
Pelosi asks Moran to resign leadership post
Here's the story. Funny how the Democrats' "Trent Lott Moment" took a few days to resolve, while the real Trent Lott Moment took a few weeks. Wonder why.
SETI@home Identifies 150 Possible Alien Signals
SETI@home, the distributed computing project that searches through radio telescope information looking for signs of intelligent life, has identified over 150 potential locations of those signals. The sites will be looked at by three SETI researchers at the Arecibo radio telescope.
While the odds of finding anything are put at about one in 10,000, according to one researcher, the success of SETI@home is pretty obvious. The combined computing time for the SETI@home project has now topped one million hours, and has given researchers a chance to find evidence that we are not alone.
The Center-Left War-Hawks
Of course, this is the category I've placed myself in for the past four or five months. I've believed that Saddam Hussein had earned removal, and that Iraq constituted a significant enough threat that U.S. invasion was acceptable.
But like many center-left hawks, I've been troubled by GDub's awesome ineptitude with regard to diplomacy. The sheer damage his administration has done to international institutions and bilateral relations has been disturbing at best. Through it all, I've been reluctantly in favor of continuing, in the belief that the ultimate cause was just.
Now, I'm not so sure.
The question comes down to whether waiting two, four, or six months to invade Iraq would increase risks to our security more than waiting would decrease risks, by strengthening NATO and the United Nations, as well as repairing somewhat our relations with France and Germany. With the incipient withdrawl of the U.K.'s resolution--despite the President's assurance that a vote would be taken "no matter what the whip count is," I think we may have reached that point. If we were going to ignore the UN, the time to do that was last fall. For good or ill, America cast our lot in with them. Now, we're like the kid, down 14-3 in one on one, with one shot left to win, who simply says, "ah, I didn't want to play anyhow" and leaves.
Josh Marshall, who has mirrored my own opinions on the war (though far more eloquently), sums it up neatly:
Fundamentally, we see the preservation of our key alliances and standing in the world, indeed the 'world security system' itself as even more important than Iraq. And when we see the president destroying those to get into Iraq, we have little choice but to say he's on the wrong track.
My support for the war has been at about 55-60% for the past few months. It's dipped into the forties now. I don't think Bush=Hitler. I haven't put a "No War In Iraq" sign in my front yard. I haven't started signing things "Jeff 'No Blood For Oil' Fecke."
I still think we're going to war; I hope it goes quickly, and we win. And I won't feel bad that we did. But I fear when we do, it will cause damage to our relations with the world that will take years, even decades, to repair. Damage that will hurt us not just with regard to security, but with regard to trade and the spread of democracy as well. That will harm us far more than Iraq ever could.
A Belated Happy Birthday....
...to me. 29 Years of Broadcast Excellence, as of yesterday. Got to spend the day looking for a new car to replace my totaled old car. Nothing purchased yet.
Wednesday, March 12, 2003
The Right Fielder, Number 34, Kirbyyyyyyyyyy.....
Any Minnesotan can recall game six of the '91 World Series.
It was extra innings, a tight game in one of the best series in baseball history. Kirby Puckett--marvelous guy, marvelous player--strode to the plate, and launched a high fly ball, deep center field...
...and we'll see you tomorrow night!
Puckett was a hero. He was an all-around good guy, a devoted family man, a guy who played the game hard, for the right reasons. He was the guy you looked at and said, "Why can't all pro athletes be like this?" When Puckett was forced to retire due to glaucoma, it cast a pall over the state, and sent the Twins into a tailspin they wouldn't recover from until 2002.
Yep, Kirby was one of the greats.
Except that he wasn't.
A new Sports Illusrated article chronicles what many of us in Minnesota have been finding out for the past year or so. Kirby Puckett is not a great man. He's not even a good man. He's a serial adulterer, a man capable of cheating, not just on his wife, but his mistress. He's a man who has taken to committing lewd acts in public, including an alleged assault of a woman in a bar. He's a man who has expressed open disdain about the community work he supposedly cherished.
He's a lout, a self-centered brat, and no amount of skill on the playing field will erase that.
This is not to say that Puckett is alone in his boorishness. Certainly, fans across America are familiar with thuggish behavior from their athletes. Minnesota alone has hosted Randy Moss and J.R. Rider in the past decade. News stations used to joke about the Vikings Police Blotter. Even Minnesota native and Vikes' backup quarterback Todd Bouman--"One Of Us" in local parlance--is under investigation for sexual assault.
But Kirby--he was supposed to be different. He was supposed to care. He was supposed to be the guy who gave 110% on the field and off it. The guy who really did care for his family. The guy who really did want to give something back.
I will always remember Puckett's '91 blast. And I'll always remember the way he'd run full-tilt on even the most routine grounder, heading with all his speed to first base because damn it, you're supposed to hustle. And I'll always remember him stretching out far beyond what his short, squat frame suggested he could muster, leaping over the fence at the Metrodome to pull back a home run. Kirby brought two world championships to Minnesota, and I'm grateful.
But I also know that when the announcer at the Dome would launch into his patented call we were cheering not just for a great player, but for a great guy. We were duped. And I can never forgive Kirby Puckett for that.
Tuesday, March 11, 2003
Ya sure, you betcha
The guys over at Fraters Libertas want to bet me that GDub wins re-electon. You see, they note that my rather exuberant note on Bush's declining popularity may be premature.
Well, call me a coward, but I'm not taking the bet. Not because I think Bush is due to turn things around, but because I believe in the awesome power of the Democratic party to screw things up.
Could the Democratic party find a way to nominate Howard Dean? Sure. Could they turn the '04 convention into a fraternal bloodletting? Sure. Could they run a campaign based entirely around prescription drugs for those 84-86 years old? Yep.
So while GDub's numbers are falling, the Dems could still snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I fear they may yet.
James Moran is a Moron
Hey, I know some wingnuts think that the Jews secretly run our country, but it's unfortunate when a sitting U.S. Representative implies as much. Okay, he just said that "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." Um...no.
Arlon Lindner is a Moron
'Nuff said. You've got to hand it to the guy--it's hard to simultaneously anger African-Americans, Jews, and gays. But our boy Arlon pulled it off.
The whole family is sick--mom, baby, and me. We all seem to have some horrible cold/flu/stomach ailment combination that basically has transformed us into little puddles of goo. I couldn't even write yesterday. Today, a little bit more. So there you go.
Monday, March 10, 2003
You've got to love The Norm.
Friday, March 07, 2003
Syl Jones: A Fisking
No one can deny that we have far to go before the racial divide in this country can be healed. While we have made great strides in the last half-century, there remain many fundamental problems that must be worked out before we can truly reach the ideal of a color-blind (or at least color-neutral) society.
Among the issues still swirling are the issues of Affirmative Action and Slavery Reparations. Affirmative Action, of course, has been the law of the land since the 1960s, a wise step to redress institutional, government-sponsored racism. While some, including me, question the effectiveness and utility of affirmative action in today's society, two generations removed from the end of the Jim Crow era, there is little doubt that Affirmative Action has served a useful purpose.
Slavery Reparations are another matter. On the face of it, there's a certain logic to reparations: after all, millions of African Americans were denied basic human rights, tortured and killed, or at best, deprived of the most fundamental building block of liberty, the right to self-determination. There is no doubt that the economy of the United States, especially in the South, benefitted from slave labor.
In practice, however, reparations are phenomenally difficult to administer, for one simple reason: all the slave-owners are dead, and so are all the slaves. Slavery in the United States was outlawed in 1865. The people agrieved--and the monsters who enslaved--are long dead.
Of course, reparations could be paid to the descendants of slaves--but aye, there's the rub. Because as any amateur geneologist will tell you, records are scattered and confused. Some people, of course, have plenty of evidence that they are descendants of slaves. But should we punish those who did not keep such good records?
And to whom shall we deliver the bill? The descendants of slave-holders? See above. All white people? Well, that's nice, but there are a lot of white people who showed up in the U.S. long after 1865. What is their responsibility? What about the children of abolitionists? What about the descendants of Union soldiers?
When confronted with these objections, most people shrug and say while reparations are a nice idea in theory, in practice they are almost impossible to administer fairly. Most everyone save Syl Jones.
Syl Jones is a columnist for the Star Tribune. (I refuse to append the moniker "Newspaper of the Twin Cities." The Strib is Minneapolis' paper.) Jones has a history of, well, racially aggressive writing. In decrying statements made in an incident surrounding the deaths of a Minneapolis Police Officer and a female African American tenant of public housing, Jones said that white hatred was "as plain as the Roman noses on their pale faces." Needless to say, such comments didn't sit well.
But Jones may have written his most disturbing column yet. His latest column, "Affirmative action? No, what I want is my money", makes the case that...well, actually, let's take it point by point.
The University of Michigan law school's affirmative action remedy is discriminatory and deserves to be struck down by the Supreme Court, which it will be, and by a lightning bolt from the Almighty, which it will not be. Any system that awards points to applicants purely on the basis of skin color is racially discriminatory, and no amount of blather about improving diversity on campus can change that.
In fact, Michigan's remedy is so juvenile that a sixth-grader could have rejected it as too simplistic, which may be why President Bush was able to figure it out. But, don't mis-underestimate me: Give me points because I have overcome extraordinary obstacles in my life, because I know and understand my family's legacy, because I'm from a culture that has encountered intense discrimination and I've shown the propensity to rise above it. But, let's get real -- don't give me points simply because my skin is black.
So far, so good. It's hard to argue that the Michigan program is legally questionable. Of course, I know and understand my family's legacy, too (which mainly involves dairy farming, and then quitting dairy farming).
The Michigan case is a straw man -- one that conservatives have been praying for. But what most white Americans don't understand is that setting aside a few thousand seats for black students in prestigious colleges each year is a much better deal than actually having to calculate the cost of the millions of squandered lives, broken families and economic devastations wrought upon black families by white America.
Okay, sure, straw man...wait a minute, what? Millions of squandered lives, broken families, and economic devasations, all the fault of white America? I mean, I know things aren't exactly peachy in black America, but is that really 100% the fault of the white man?
Well, yes, yes it is.
I don't want no stinkin' affirmative action. I want to know precisely what the value of the land is that was stolen from my ancestors in Georgia and Arkansas by unscrupulous segregationists, and then I want pain and suffering damages piled on top of that. I'd have no trouble proving in a court of law that this theft -- and the thousands of others just like it -- constituted a criminal act that, along with slavery and Jim Crow, rivaled Nazi Germany's persecution of the Jews. That I survived and even thrived is a testament to the human spirit and to my family's resiliency, not to your nonsensical remedy.
Well, first of all, Jim Crow was evil. Few debate that, and those that do are idiots. Second, if you want to know precisely what the value of that land is, then get it surveyed and find out.
But don't cry about your family's legacy. The fact that you refer to them as your ancestors rather suggests that this was not your land, or your parents' land. Plenty of people, black and white and Asian and hispanic and Native American, have had to deal with the loss of the family homestead. Millions of Irish-Americans were driven out of their nation by an occupying force that siezed land and destroyed language and families. Their family homesteads were siezed by the British. Hundreds of Thousands of Hmong-Americans were forced to flee their country for one utterly unfamiliar. Somehow, they survive.
And why so bitter about Affirmative Action? A "nonsensical remedy?" Somehow, I don't think the leaders of the civil rights movement thought of it as such. As I recall, they hailed its passage. Hardly nonsensical, and hardly that of the white people. It can best be characterized as "ours."
I don't want affirmative action -- although it's helped many African-Americans get in the door of what amounted to private, all-white colleges and universities, not to mention corporations. I don't want affirmative action, which white folks created without the slightest discussion between the powers that be and those who needed a remedy to level a playing field that has historically been tilted toward white legacy and remains so today. I don't want affirmative action. What I want is my money.
Fine. Who's got it? I didn't steal your land, Syl. I was born in 1974. Go back into the Fecke Family History, and you will find my Great-Grandpa Benjamin Fecke, who briefly tried to manage some land in Louisiana, but that just bankrupted him. Hey, if I had your land, I'd give it back. But I don't. So what do you want me to do about it?
Every single African-American who survived the terrorist onslaught perpetrated by the majority of white society deserves compensation for his or her losses, direct and indirect. And I'll make a deal with you: Give me just one-tenth of the hundreds of millions of dollars stolen from us in free labor, confiscated homes and land, in human flesh and blood, and in psychological agony, and I'll gladly donate a large part of my share to your education. Because most of you desperately need it.
Good. Syl gets in his obligatory racist comment. Because, you know, we white people just don't get that slavery is an unbelievable horror, that Jim Crow was an abomination, that these are our great national sins, sins that one hundred forty years later (or fifty, in the case of Jim Crow), still linger and cling to the fabric of our society, and all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten their stentch.
But was "the majority of white society" complicit in these events? Well, in some parts of the country, yes they were. There can be no doubt that much of the South was racially challenged--and much of it still is. But the whole country? Hard to say.
One thing I can say is that my forebearers come out pretty clean. My family homestead is Northwest Illinois--hardly a hotbed of racial tension. And most of them showed up around 1880 or so, coming from Germany, France, and Sweden. And of course, there are other families as well--my wife's family, the Carrolls, certainly weren't getting much slack cut while they were being pushed into Irish Ghettos. They didn't particularly benefit from Jim Crow. They were being oppressed right along with you.
If I had reparations dollars in my bank account -- plus a nickel for each time someone condescends to lecture me on the instability of the black family -- I could afford to substantially further your woefully inadequate education. I wouldn't call my program anything fancy, like affirmative action. No, I'd call it the Get Real Academy for Undereducated Whites, and I'd gladly set aside some of my money to assist overprivileged and ignorant majority-culturees
Yup, I'm uneducated. I can hardly hold my head up, I'm so dumb. Time to go pound a couple rocks together and pretend black people don't exist.
If I wrote about the "Get Real Academy For Uneducated Blacks," I'd be tarred and feathered and rode out of town on a rail--and like Robert Fisk, I'd feel I deserved it. It would be a horribly racist thing to say..
As for talking about the atomization of the black family--well, of course, that's white people's fault. To some extent, it's the government's fault--the way welfare was structured penalized people for being married, and since African Americans were disproportionately poor, they suffered disproportionately from its effects. But of course, I don't think that would be a complaint of Syl's.
At the Get Real Academy, you'd be forced to study the origin of the false concept of whiteness. You'd have to analyze the psychological reasons why spectacle lynchings became a part of America's reign of terror over blacks and why so many of the lynched black men had their genitals cut off by bloodthirsty whites. You'd be required to learn every last detail about the miracle of the postslavery generation of black Americans who pulled themselves up by their dusty bootstraps and became farmers, teachers, engineers, inventors, doctors, dentists -- everything that the American Dream stood for. Only to have it taken away by Jim Crow laws. And you'd have to investigate, through the works of hundreds of scholars who've already done the research, what the behavior of your people signifies about where you came from and who you are today.
So...if the concept of "whiteness" is false, does that mean that there are no white people?
But who's going to pay your reparations, Syl?
As for lynching--well, it's evil. People realize that. But my family wan't participating in lynchings, Syl. They were minding their farms in Mount Carroll and Red Oak Township.
Affirmative action is white society's lazy way of sweeping the high cost of black enslavement and oppression under the historical rug in the desperate hope that those now living won't have to cough up fair compensation. But, Michigan's remedy be damned, I've got four words for all you affirmative-action haters: Give Me My Money.
Well, I'm not going to give you your money, Syl. I haven't done anything to you. Indeed, you haven't been lynched, or enslaved, or shot, or beaten; you've been given a good job as a columnist for a major metropolitan newspaper. Your family has faced hardships, to be sure. And African Americans have faced numerous indignities, from reconstruction to slavery.
But we can't give you your money, Syl. Because if we start down that path, we can never stop.
I want my wife's money for being forced out of Ireland. Oh, we're not sure whether she was forced out or not; indeed, she didn't leave at all. Her family has been here for generations. But the Brits conquered the Irish, now the Brits must pay. And while they're at it, the Celts held all of Britain before the Angles and the Saxons got there. Best give the Celts some money. And I'm sure the Angles were probably driven out of somewhere....
Well, you see where I'm going. Human history is a sequence of grievances, going back to the days when Og kicked Nog out of the cave he was living in. Every one of us has in our history a series of grievances; every one of us has a history that has given others cause to be agrieved. Untying the Gordian Knot becomes impossible and counterproductive; by focusing on past grievances, we lose sight of the future.
Indeed, that is my biggest problem with Syl Jones' column. He brings up the litany of white sins of the past--slavery, reconstruction, Jim Crow, lynching. These were all horrible crimes. And these crimes all share one thing in common: they have all ended. Slavery is gone, reconstruction long-over, Jim Crow laws have been stricken from the books or found unconstitutional, and lynching is reviled. Society has moved forward toward a future that is, finally, race-neutral.
That is not to say we are there yet. We still have a long way to go. But trying to pay everyone for their grievances will leave everyone poorer, and angrier, and less able to move toward the future. I am sorry, Syl, that you lost your land. But the Feckes don't live in Bavaria anymore, either. We've moved on. It's time you did, too.
Enetation seems to have their act back together, so comments return.
So, you know, comment and stuff.
The Life of a Blogger
If you have a blog, this is hilarious. It's probably pretty funny even if you don't.
Flash: Bush Losing to Generic Democrat
When a candidate falls below fifty percent in a generic re-elect poll, he is in critical jeopardy.
When he falls behind the generic opponent, turn the lights out; he's done.
A Quinnipiac University poll shows Bush now trailing a generic Democrat, 48%-44%.
In the same poll, Bush's approval rating was 53%, with 39% negative. Only 9%, however, were "very satisfied" with the way things are going in the United States.
(courtesy of Pandagon)
A Day Without Satire?
Neal Pollack is calling for internet satire sites to go dark on April 1 to protest the White House's threatening of the websie whitehouse.org.
For those of you unfamiliar with what's going on, whitehouse.org is a satirical, liberal site. Included on the site was a ficticious biography of Second Lady Lynne Cheney. White House Counsel David Addington sent a letter to whitehouse.org, threatening the site with a lawsuit because it was using the Second Lady's picture "in advance of trade." Of course (duh) the Second Lady is a public figure, married to the Vice President of the United States, and that pesky First Amendment protects satire. But whatever.
Needless to say, the Cheneys now are claiming they knew nothing about the letter. Indeed, I wouldn't be surprised if Mr. Addington claims he knows nothing about the letter. Still, it's a chilling event, and the idea of protesting it is worthy.