Saturday, March 22, 2003

Peace Protesters and Criminals

Clayton Cramer, an apparently junior member of the Volokh Conspiracy, has decided that Leftists should be ashamed of the fact that, by bringing molotov cocktails to peace protests, they are costing the state money that could be better spent on things like "hungry children, homeless people, and mental illness treatment."

What "prominent Second Amendment historian" Cramer seems to be missing is one very important point:

People who bring explosive devices to peace protests are not "Leftists." Nor are they "Right-wingers." They are "criminals."

It's a worthless exercise to try to associate a large political group with the criminal actions of one or two members; worthless, that is, unless you're trying to score cheap rhetorical points with people who already agree with you.

This kind of thing smacks of Rush Limbaugh's joyful ravings about the suspected terrorists arrested in Buffalo last year being registered as Democrats (the Smoking Gun pointed out the fundamental flaw in this kind of smearing: it works both ways).

Perhaps sounding like Rush Limbaugh is an acceptable method of discourse in Mr. Cramer's household, but I cannot believe that that kind of thing goes over well in Volokh-land. Perhaps Eugene should assign Clayton to Conspiracy latrine duty.

Sidenote: If the anti-war movement was founded on a predominantly violent ideology, this kind of guilt by association would have some merit (as in the case of the Right wing and the Patriot movement- Orcinus has huge amounts of material devoted to making this kind of connection in a rational manner befitting adults). But as any rational observer knows, the whole idea behind most of the peace movement is non-violence (and the remainder of the movement is made up of people who generally support war with Iraq, but do not trust the President not to screw it up...hardly a group of violent anarchists).

Update: Why am I not surprised that the Mr. Reynolds has swallowed Cramer's line of thinking without question?
Because MTV is a Highly Respected News Organization

Eugene Volokh, a very smart man with whom I often disagree, makes a point about polls that should be glaringly obvious to anyone who pretends that they are a even an amateur political commentator.

Apparently, it is not.

Post Blogger-Issues Note: This is a slight repeat. The incomplete version of this post made Blogger do stupid things.

Mr. Reynolds has been having fun with the anti-war movement.

"The 'peace' movement's worst nightmare" he declares, linking to a story of Iraqis celebrating as US troops roll in. Then, after being roundly criticized for it in certain quarters, he thumbs his nose at taste and good sportsmanship and does it again.

I was still fuming about this when I sat down on the couch and surfed around, looking for some actual news about the war, rather than shots of the bombs going off being replayed over and over.

It was then that I was reminded exactly what the "peace" movement's worst nightmare really is.

As I watched a ten second clip on MSNBC of the middle aged father of one of the marines who was killed today holding up a photograph, choking back tears and asking the President to take a good look at the picture "of my only son," all the furious words in my head stopped, as did the accusations against people who mock those who did not want war.

Nothing I can say can be even half as effective a condemnation of Reynolds' attitude -- which is by no means unique to him; if it were, it would not matter -- as hearing a grown man's voice crack when he talks about his dead son.

I don't even care about pro-war and anti-war right now. Tonight, can we all just have the honor and basic decency to admit that that man who I saw on the news tonight was every American's worst nightmare?

Post Blogger-Issues Note: This is a post from last night that I deleted while trying to fix the screwed up post.
Blogger Issues

For some inexplicable reason, my last post has screwed up my last two or three posts. Everytime I try to fix it, it makes things worse. So I'm just going to leave it alone. Ignore any craziness in the last few posts.

Those of you directed here by Atrios' Link: Please click this.
Because MTV is a Highly Respected News Organization

Eugene Volokh, a very smart man with whom I often disagree, makes a point about polls that should be glaringly obvious to anyone who pretends that they are a even an amateur political commentator.


Thursday, March 20, 2003

Oh, Andrew. You Make It Too, Too Easy

Sullivan gives some much-needed publicity to Eric Alterman's book:
The Rainesians get the dean of Berkeley Journalism School, a contributor to the Nation, Salon, the New Yorker, and the New York Review of Books, to endorse a book endorsing the notion that there's no liberal bias in the media. And they don't even seem to notice the irony.

Hmm. Sullivan takes yet another in his never-ending series of swipes at the highly-respected news organization that fired him for relationship to facts.

And he doesn't even seem to notice the irony.

Or should I say bias?

Thank You! Gracias! Danke! Merci!

For those of you who find little things like gigantic media conglomerates that control a huge portion of the radio stations in this country sponsoring canned pro-war rallies while at the same time blacklisting artists with the balls to say unkind things about George Bush just a wee bit creepy, here's a handy list of all the currently sitting Democratic Senators who voted for the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the deregulatory bill that allowed behemoths like Clear Channel to swallow up such vast portions of our information dissemination infrastructure:

Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Biden (D-DE)
Breaux (D-LA)
Daschle (D-SD)
Dodd (D-CT)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Harkin (D-IA)
Hollings (D-SC)
Inouye (D-HI)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Kohl (D-WI)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Levin (D-MI)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murray (D-WA)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sarbanes (D-MD)

As well as the currently Democratic-voting Independent,
Jeffords (I-VT)

And former Senator and current Presidential Candidate,
Moseley-Braun (D-IL)

Feel free to write to these individuals, and thank them for taking that very important step toward a Monolithic Corporate Media, and ask them how it feels to have one of those pesky old "yea" votes come back to bite them in the ass in fun and interesting ways.

Sidenote: The most surprising thing about this law is the fact that Joe Lieberman actually voted against it. It doesn't make me like him any more than I already do (which is to say, not at all), but let's give credit where credit is due.

Sidenote the Second: The only two Republicans voting against the Act were John McCain and disgraced former Senator Bob Packwood.

Sidenote the Third: Clear Channel also happens to be the parent of Premier Radio Networks, the company that broadcasts Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Laura, Michael Reagan, and Matt Drudge (although, to be fair, they also broadcast Jim Rome, the best sports-talk guy in the country).

Update: Ugga Bugga lays it out in easy-to-digest format. (via Atrios)
Spin, Spin, Spin Away

I really love the Administration's claim, echoed by so many Right-wingers that it makes my head hurt, that a lot of the former Eastern Bloc nations have joined our little coalition because "they know what it's like to live under oppression."

Yeah, because their cooperation has absolutely nothing to do with that fact that they also happen to be some of the poorest nations in Europe, and as such are highly dependent on US money to keep afloat.

Oh my. Did I just impugn the motives of our noble Coalition of the Willing?

What kind of a liberal pinko atheist commie am I?

The kind that would sink so low as to mention the fact that perhaps the French might know a thing or two about living under an oppressive dictator as well?

God, it's no wonder the Pure Hearted of the Right hate me.
An Addendum, and a Preemptive Thought

The Washington Post last Sunday:

A CIA spokesman refused to discuss the matter. But some officials charge the administration is not interested in helping the inspectors discover weapons because a discovery could bolster supporters in the U.N. Security Council of continued inspections and undermine the administration's case for war.

"We don't want to have a smoking gun," a ranking administration official said recently. He added, "I don't know whether the point is to embarrass Blix or embarrass Saddam Hussein."

Anther official familiar with the intelligence said, "Not all the top sites have been passed to the inspectors."

I want to make one thing extremely clear. If this is true, and chemical or biological weapons are used against our troops during the war, George W. Bush should be impeached and sent to prison.

This is not a joke. This is not partisanship. Any official who would put US forces at risk by withholding information simply for political purposes would deserve the same fate.

Why do I raise such a terrifying scenario now? Becase if, God forbid, it does happen, there will be mourning and anger and fear, and I want this to be on record before it happens, so that I cannot be accused of using a tragedy for partisan hyperbole.

So, if it happens, if our troops suffer a chemical attack, I will blame Saddam Hussein along with everyone else. But I will also be blaming the man that, by withholding information from weapons inspectors, allowed it happen.

(article courtesy of reader Jim E.)
Time To Get A Clue

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

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

"FUCKING HELLO! So does half the goddamn world!"

--Me, unfortunately not at the same time, and not in the same room.

via Tom Tomorrow
A Cause For Concern

"There is a predominant belief in the intelligence community that an invasion of Iraq will cause more terrorism than it will prevent. There is also a tremendous amount of embarrassment by intelligence professionals that there have been so many lies out of the administration -- by the president, (Vice President Dick) Cheney and (Secretary of State Colin) Powell -- over Iraq."

You know, when the American intelligence community tells you you're lying too much, isn't that kind of like the Budweiser Corporation telling you that you might have a drinking problem?

via Monkeytime, via Atrios

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

On A Lighter Note...

Jesus. Glenn Reynolds is such. A. Prick.
Something To Keep In Mind

During the war and its aftermath, if we find out that the US has bombed chemical and biological weapons facilities, instead of going, "Hey! Look! Bush was right after all! Saddam had WMD!" we should consider the fact that if we bombed them, that means we knew or suspected where they were.

Weren't we supposed to be helping the weapons inspectors by, you know, telling them where the weapons are?

Unless we are wantonly attacking random civilian sites, an attack on a WMD facility will prove that the entire inspections effort, and consequently the entire UN process, was a charade to gain the appearance of legitimacy.

Just so we're clear.
Well, Fuck It. Let's Hope It Goes Well

With war now being inevitable, this seems to be the dominant position of most of the anti-war contingent -although, really, war has been inevitable since September 2002, if not September 2001.

The war has been discussed ad nauseum for many months now. The pros and cons have been listed by so many people in so many forums that it would take a Herculean act of apathy to not have heard most of them.

For me, it comes down to this:

Several months ago, I thought about what I would do if I were Saddam Hussein. The short answer is this: I would put everything I had into making not one nuclear weapon, but two. I would then light one off in the middle of the desert to prove that I had it, and inform the world -- particularly the United States -- that the other one was on a mobile SCUD launcher somewhere in the country and was aimed at Tel Aviv. "If anyone fucks with me, I launch."

I have yet to hear an argument from the anti-war faction that truly soothes my concerns about this, the ultimate hostage scenario. Israel is a fully functional democracy, and our greatest ally in the region. Allowing them to come under this threat is absolutely unacceptable.

Beyond that, from what I can tell, the anti-war position regarding Saddam is, basically, let's wait until he dies. Well, ignoring sneering references to how well that solution has worked with Castro, this seems like a fairly optimistic approach. Saddam is perfectly aware of the possibility that he will one day be too weak -- due to age or illness -- to keep the government under his control. Not wishing to be killed or imprisoned in a coup, he has surely laid the groundwork for choosing a successor, quite possibly one of his sons. Which means that even with Hussein himself out of the picture, the Iraqi government would remain essentially the same. This would mean that we could be in the exact same position in 15, 20, or even 30 years.

For these reasons, I have leaned toward supporting the war.

Several months ago, I tried to come up with the best way to ensure that Iraq does not have nuclear weapons. What I came up with (and have since heard in various anti-war circles) was massive inspections backed up by the threat of credible force. A group of inspectors is being prevented by Iraqi government officials from entering a certain site? Fine. Six hours later, blow it to hell. After two or three incidents like this, the inspectors would have free reign over the country - without putting our troops in danger or causing unnecessary civilian casualties.

I have yet to hear an argument from the pro-war faction that truly convinces me that this approach would not be effective.

Beyond that, over the course of the last several months, our government has acted in bad faith - toward us, toward Iraq, and toward the world. If our case for war was truly as strong as the Bush administration has insisted, then why have they put out so much information that is misleading and verifiably false? I do not for one minute believe that the administration has made a real effort to work with the world and with Iraq. The last six months have been an elaborate charade, a mask to make the war more palatable to people who do not think that war is always good.

For these reasons, I have leaned toward opposing the war.

These are the concerns I have had for many months as the situation has developed.

But what do I think now, on the eve of hostilities, when bombs may be dropping as I write these words?

I have decided that I am against the war, for two reasons.

The first reason, to steal a phrase from someone, is that I do not trust this administration not to fuck up the aftermath. The thing that put me over the edge on this one was the fact that we were willing to sell out the Kurds in order to win Turkey's support. The fact that Turkey did not accept our offer does not change anything. In that moment, we lost all claims on this war being about freeing the oppressed and helping the Iraqi people. Anyone who still thinks we want to help oppressed people with this war doesn't know what they are talking about. Beyond that, the foreign policy of this administration has been a complete disaster. It is nearly impossible to describe just how incompetent the Bush people have been when it comes to almost everything beyond our shores. In the eyes of most of the world, we have gone, in a year and a half, from the most loved and sympathized-with country to the most hated and feared. The North Korean situation is the most frightening thing to happen in the last twenty years (yes, I view the existence of an unpredictable, hostile regime with the ability to put a nuclear weapon on the west coast as worse than terrorism), and it can be directly traced to the swaggering bluster of the ideologues who currently run our government. And just as Iran -- a nation that is very close to becoming a nuclear power -- edges toward a new revolution, one that will pull the America-hating theocrats from power, we engage in a war that will undoubtedly stir anti-American sentiment, which can only help the mullahs and the ayatollahs.

I think it is an accurate depiction of our foreign policy in general that even Mexico will not back us up in this war.

This whole operation will be for naught if the cleanup is not an international endeavor, and the fact that so many of our allies are balking leads me to believe that, rather than all of them being evil and stupid, perhaps we have been doing something wrong.

The second reason I am opposed is philosophical.

I am not against all war. We are not advanced enough as a civilization to make war unnecessary. Someday...maybe. But not yet.

We are the strongest nation in the world, militarily and economically. We can, essentially, do whatever we want.

But what sets us apart from the Roman Empire -- the only real historical precedent for such unmatched power -- is the fact that we participate in the world community; not as a king, but as a peer.

This is a critically important distinction, for in a worldwide civilization of free people, which we are slowly becoming, that participation -- as opposed to the dictating of terms -- is what gives us the moral authority to condemn dictators and despots. It is not our own sense of righteousness that makes our actions acceptable. Virtually every nation in history that has gone to war believed they were in the right. To paraphrase someone, no one thinks God is on the enemy's side. It is, instead, the consent of the global community that grants true historical legitimacy to our actions, for then we are no longer acting as a single nation, but as an agent of the collective will of humanity.

Does this mean that I do not believe in the sovereignty of the United States? No. Does this mean that we should never, ever act outside of the UN? No. But it does mean that the UN, while an organization with serious flaws, is not the flimsy bit of bureaucracy to be dismissed out of hand that the Bush administration has regarded it as.

In the end, you can yell all you want about how hostilities technically never ceased after the Gulf War, and how we have had UN approval for twelve years, and how resolution 1441 authorizes us to start the war, but make no mistake: in this war, we are acting as an aggressor nation, not just without the consent of the global community, but in the face of its active opposition. This is a first for the United States, and I am very afraid that that is a bridge that, once crossed, cannot be uncrossed.

And so I join the ranks of those who would support the war, were it not for the stunning incompetence and disdain for international opinion displayed by the current administration in bringing it to pass.

But all of this is merely for the record. If the war hasn't already begun, it will soon, and nothing I or anyone else says about it matters anymore.

So fuck it. Let's hope it goes well.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Pre-War Speech: Preview

It's pretty obvious to anyone who knows me, or who has read even a little bit of what I write, that I am extremely critical of the Bush administration and their prosecution of the coming war.

There is very little that I like about this President, and a whole lot that I dislike about what he has been doing.

Tonight, though, I am willing, for the next two hours, to give him the benefit of the doubt. I am going to watch the speech in good faith, and really listen to what he has to say.

For six months, President Bush has tried to convince me that war is necessary and proper. He has not met with much success.

So, in the same way that he has given one last chance to Saddam to disarm, I am going to give him, on the eve of war, one last chance to convince me that this is the right thing to do, and that he will carry out this war in a way that will increase domestic and international security (which, contrary to what a lot of war supporters say, is what the war is truly about. Spreading democracy and saving oppressed people is nice, and is a component of security, but if that was really the highest priority of the United States, we would have occupied most of Africa forty years ago, as well as significant chunks of the Middle East).

So. Here I am.

I'm listening, Mr. President.