Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Good god. Are there really people who think that pulling American troops out now is a good idea?? I guess so. Actually, I'm a little confused -- the AP seems to report that 48 percent of respondants in a Newsweek poll said we should bring soldiers home; but Newsweek says only five percent support bringing them home now. Oh well.

Anyway, obviously Bush is in trouble. Large numbers of Americans are not happy with the cost we're paying for our adventure in Iraq. And there's no way -- no way, unless they're even crazier than I thought -- that the administration will be able to make those people happy now. (Of course, not going to war in the first place would have been a nice thought.) So, that's good news for all us anti-Bush types. But, of course, it's terrible news too: if this sentiment can, in fact, be turned into a democratic victory in 2004 (a wishful thought, I know), whoever finds himself in the White House will be saddled with the task of trying to clean up this mess. Which, from where I sit, seems to be an impossible task.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

I've been thinking about this for a while, too. Namely, that "There is a difference between saying that our dealings with Saddam have to be viewed in the context of the September 11 attacks and claiming that he was behind them." For the most part, administration officials haven't said explicitly that Saddam was behind the attacks. Still, a majority of Americans believe he was! Surely, that idea didn't just materialized by itself?

Of course it didn't. The administration cynically manipulated the average American, hinting that Saddam was involved -- they certainly claimed that he was working with al Qaeda, and it's not much of a leap from that to imagining that he was at least complicit in that organization's biggest-ever operation -- and using intentionally vague ideas. For example, this one: the concept that "our dealings with Saddam have to be viewed in the context of the September 11 attacks" means that we must go to war with him. What this says to someone not inclined to pick apart the logic and be obsessively skeptical is that Saddam Hussein had something to do with the September 11 attacks. I mean, who are we kidding?

It's like when Rumsfeld and then Bush referred to "senior-level contacts [between Iraq and al Qaeda] going back a decade," by which they meant that reports existed of such contact a decade ago -- no strong evidence existed that those contacts were ongoing. Could it possibly be a coincidence that they both used the expression "going back a decade" to mean "a decade ago?"

Of course, it's also like when Bush, in his State of the Union address, said "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa," a bald-faced lie. When the claim was questioned, some apologists said "well, he only said that the British government had learned that -- we never said it was true!"

What is this crap?

By the way, I just hate how EVERY SINGLE TIME the Niger uranium claim gets mentioned, it's referred to as "the sixteen words," as if the number of words has any friggin thing to do with what was said. Maybe we should refer to the entire speech as "the 5,490 words?" After all, they were all bullshit. But I mean come on. Calling it "the sixteen words" is an obvious attempt to minimize the importance of the claim. Sorry, but it was a damn important claim, and it was a lie. If someone yelled "fire" in a crowded theater, would we say, "well, it was only one word?"

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

I wonder how much I have in common with these people
This weekend, a bunch of us went to the house where a friend grew up, out in rural Connecticut. It was a nice place, and there were potted plants scattered about, adding embience, as potted plants are wont to do. One of them was this huge freakin cactus, which my friend who grew up there said had been sitting in that very corner for as long as he could remember. The thing was about seven feet tall. The wild thing, that another friend pointed out, was the tininess of the pot it was growing in: it was about 9 inches tall and six inches in diameter. How the hell is that possible?

Another friend, when this was pointed out, said "cacti [actually, she probably said 'cactuses'] thrive on deprivation. The worse things get, the more they like it." God, doesn't it seem like that's true? And don't you know people like that?

Friday, August 08, 2003

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Whew, check this out. These are comments that people added to a blog maintained by an American soldier in Iraq (which is also unbelievable).

Okay, did you read it yet? Did you notice what I noticed? The soldiers, save for one 30-word missive, ignore all the debate over the war, instead giving each other tips on how to carry their m16's. It's so dramatic how they just don't address anything else that's being said. It makes you think about what their world must be like: no time for partisan arguing of the kind that us civilians indulge in. They must realize that there's no easy answers to the questions that are being asked, and also that a lot of the debate is done just for the sake of debate. They have more serious considerations to focus on.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Concentrating on Iraq has the added benefit for the Bush administration of making them appear to be interested in doing something about threats to our national security while leaving bin Laden out there. It's good for them to leave him out there because the 2004 Bush campaign is going to focus on making him the "national security president," and if Americans feel they're actually safe, that strategy won't be effective. The Democrats should be talking about how we still haven't found bin Laden, and yet we've committed ourselves -- and huge numbers of troops -- to years of occupation in Iraq. If we really cared about the number one threat, we'd be putting everything we have into getting bin Laden.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

A few months ago now, I heard my brother-in-law (I'm sure I'll do a lot of blogging about my brothers-in-law, just you wait) complaining about people who claimed that our credibility as a nation had been hurt by the fact that we hadn't (and still haven't now) uncovered any WMDs in Iraq. He said, "that's not the point! The point is, we've shown the world, if you aid terrorists, we'll come after you." I bit my tongue.

But now I have my own blog!! The notion of credibility is based on what others think of you, not on what you think you've demonstrated. And I think it's safe to say that, right now, most of the world thinks we lied.

And with good reason. Before the war, we market-tested using the "Iraq aids terrorists" justification, but found that "Iraq has weapons of mass destruction" worked better, for beaurocratic reasons. So we made the idea that Iraq has these weapons the primary justification for going to war. As it seems increasingly more likely that Iraq never had those weapons, our credibility is increasingly undermined. As David Corn points out, Bush's new tactic is to talk about weapons "programs," not weapons themselves. Ignoring, of course, the lack of evidence of even such programs.

But if that's not enough, it seems that the beaurocratic reason that we didn't make more of the "Iraq aids terrorists" argument is that most in the intelligence community didn't think it was true. Good for our credibility? Indeed, back in January, Bush himself said he "couldn't make the claim" that there was any connection between the September 11 terrorists and Iraq.

And yet, almost half of Americans still believe that we have found clear evidence that Hussein supported al Qaeda. Why??

I am not a true Ted Rall fan. I have worked with him, and I think he's usually not very funny. And he's completely unsubtle. But he provided me with an answer to the mystery of why Americans still believe -- even though everyone is now denying it, including the White House -- that there was a Hussein-al Qaeda link. It's because the poor fools want to believe that their government, so strong and so protective, wouldn't take them to war for no reason. It's just too fuckin' upsetting to realize what's really going on!

I wonder if that's what's going on with my brother-in-law.
Ugh. This is some pretty despicable shit. Fortunately, although this story doesn't seem to be being reported (do a Google news search on "executive order 13303" to see what I mean), someone is trying to do something about it.

(Notice how I'm using more links?)

Friday, August 01, 2003

The other thing about blogs is that they're supposed to have a ton of links in them. That's why they're called "blogs," right? Well, I don't have jackie to link to. I was just looking around the net for stuff I could link to, and I found this. Amazing. Then there's this. Also amazing. The great thing about these blogs is that they offer insight into worlds that lots of people don't have access to. What can I offer people access to?
I actually see this one on my morning commute: a corner where they train traffic cops. There's always a throng -- like 50 or see -- of those guys in their orange outfits and those white gloves, which remind me of Mickey Mouse. Sometimes they're all just standing there (I enjoy the fact that, in the last two sentences, I used the words "their," "they're," and "there"), sometimes they are actually directing traffic, totally unnecessarily. To make matters weirder, at that corner, every morning, at least 20 times a morning, a huge crowd of people gets off a bus and crosses the street illegally to get to the subway. It's very dangerous. And it's clear that the traffic cops don't realize at all that it's illegal, they just smile and say "hi" as we walk past.
That last post happened -- what -- over a year ago? Wow. Well, if I want to take the blogging thing seriously, I have to get the idea through my head that I'm not supposed to be the only one reading this. I should be talking about stuff that the rest of the world might find interesting -- that's what blogging is about.

I thought I could keep in my blog a running list of images that I think would work well in stories or songs. Dumb idea? Probably. I'm going to do it anyway.

So here's one: a city street during the summer time, with a parked car on it. The car has snow on it. It's not the kind of thing that you really notice -- you're so used to seeing cars with snow on them at other times of year -- and you might just walk right past it without even thinking about it. But it's there, and it doesn't belong there.

People who walk down the street with their umbrellas open when it just looks like rain.