the talking dog
MARCH 2003 POSTINGS

TD Extra I, 3-31-03.

It does your talking dogís heart good to be linked by the website of a radio show he actually listens to, in this case NPR affiliate WBUR's the Connection and its weblogs of war show, featuring Sean Paul Kelley of The Agonist.

Somehow, this blog (this one here) is deemed worthy of mention.

I have no idea why.

 

March 31, 2003, New York, NY.

Happy last day of March, another "free ice cream will come in smaller servings" day.

We'll start with Peter Arnett, and NBC's decision to "sever ties with him" following an interview he gave with Iraqi television in which he said something like "the Americans didn't commit enough resources, didn't expect this resistance, and have to change their war plan."  Sounds like a good reason to axe his ass, if you ask me!  Having not followed the story enough, I don't know what to say.  It certainly doesn't sound like he was in a position to spill any state secrets.  It doesn't even sound like he was taking sides with the Iraqis.  Itís just that he WASN'T TAKING SIDES WITH OUR SIDE, a good enough reason to be axed in a "time of war".

Meanwhile, today's general spin is that the war is going better (well, it was NEVER GOING BADLY, I should say!), coalition forces move steadily closer to Baghdad, Republican Guard units are being hammered, and all is good with "General Franks' brilliant plan".  The obvious question becomes why the need for Sunday morning talk show finger-pointing if the war is going perfectly and according to plan.  But what do I know?

In short, I mean that.  What DO I, or anyone sitting stateside, actually know?  Other than what we are told, little to nothing.  Salam Pax continues to be ominously silent.  The fog of war continues to roll in.  Given events elsewhere in the world, however, it seems to me that it would be to our advantage to get this one done as quickly as possible.

Again, what do I know?

 

TD Extra II, 3-30-03.

Let's give a warm, mercurial dog run welcome to...

Mercurial, the work of blogger Camilo, who goes for a slick look, and gives as a tag line, "weighty, fluid, brilliant and toxic". The posts are cryptic, eclectic, shall I say...poetic? The political tone is cool lefty, the blogroll is divided into "Guess Roll" and "Penguin Roll", and the categories are so broad as to be off the chart...one might say that the sensibility is...mercurial...
TD Designation:  Great Pyrenees

 

TD "We May forget about the REST of the World, but it won't forget Us" Extra I, 3-30-03.

While we were all focusing on Operation Just Because, Islamic Jihad thought it would take this opportunity to blow up a cafe in Netanya, Israel, injuring at least thirty. IDF forces also killed two Palestinians trying to infiltrate Kibbutz Erez (which conveniently borders the...Gaza...Strip). This is the first suicide bombing activity since the start of the Iraq War, a "gift to the Iraqi people" from their buddies at Islamic Jihad. To be sure, Palestinian militants need no particular provocation against Israel, but if the Arab world writ large DOES see our Iraqi campaign as "the new Crusade", could Osama (in whatever cave he is holed up in somewhere in Pakistan) be any happier?

Speaking of caves somewhere in Pakistan, can somebody please explain how someone managed to fire a rocket into the International Peacekeeping force headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan (across the street from the American embassy). The best guess may be reconstituting Taliban units, trying to take advantage of the Iraqi situation. We won't even MENTION the massive anti-war demonstrations in Peshawar, Pakistan. (Big protest in Indonesia too. We'll ignore that too.)

And Kim Jong Il? Well, North Korea has announced its more or less unconditional refusal to allow international nuclear inspectors back, citing Iraq, and the fact that the inspection regime THERE resulted directly in the American-British invasion. (There's something perversely compelling to this logic: if Bush had not bothered screwing around with the UN AT ALL, could our current diplomatic situation possibly be any WORSE? Surely a better pretext could have been found for Operation Just Because than violation of the UN Security Council resolutions, when the Security Council itself never sanctioned the use of force!)

Man, at LEAST we're kicking ass in Iraq!

 

March 30, 2003, Brooklyn, NY.

A depressing, overcast rainy (SNOW LATER) day here in the big city.  Not nearly depressing as the CNN report I heard from reporter Rula Amin (stationed in Jordan) when asked about general Arab opinion (during the 5 minutes or so of CNN coverage I got in this morning). She said that other Arabs outside of Iraq were pleasantly surprised at how effective a resistance Saddam's Iraq is capable of putting up after 12 years of sanctions.

In other words, for those (idiots, BTW, generally the same people who would call ME an idiotarian!!!) who thought that the Iraq war would be a useful way of pummeling and humiliating Arabs to show them whoís boss, they failed to understand that self-imposed political limitations (trying not to kill more civilians, apparent under-deployment of forces) might allow Saddam to stay in the game long enough to make it look like he was giving us a decent fight, and this would be a HUGE PSYCHOLOGICAL WIN for those most likely to take their best TERRORISM SHOT AT THE UNITED STATES. Good move.

Further, the 4-6 day "holds" being discussed (and denied) to allow more troops and equipment to make their way to the theater will, of course, give Saddam and company 4-6 days more to show just that, as well as increasing the humanitarian crisis (an average of 100 Iraqis per day are killed or wounded in our bombing campaign, according to sources I have seen).

American forces are in a big race. We have set up the mutually incompatible results of defeating Iraq, and taking over and installing a government we like, and occupying the country (none of THOSE goals are necessarily inconsistent), AND having rose petals thrust at our soldiers' feet as liberators, AND having everyone LIKE US FOR DOING THIS, because we somehow managed to minimize civilian casualties and stave off a big time humanitarian crisis. All of this while discussing a SIEGE of Baghdad (that oughtta hold down casualties!)

To be fair, much as the Bush Administration continues to insist that the war is going "according to plan" and "ahead of schedule". The fact is, it just might very well be. Yes, the Iraqis' resistance is spirited, and we have not seen the surrenders we anticipated. But we continue to inflict more casualties on our own forces through accidents than Iraq has (so far) inflicted in combat, and forces continue to advance (even while not necessarily securing all territory behind them). The $75 billion unfunded mandate the President asked Congress for was for a thirty-day period of operations; we're not even halfway there. It is unquestionably too early to make judgments of any kind regarding the MILITARY success of this operation. The political success was dead on arrival internationally; domestically, I would say the jury remains out as well. We'll see. (I must resist the temptation to get all giddy about Rummy and the Pentagon's military people turning on each other, because their respective miscalculations may be killing real live people).

Let me just say this: if our mercurial American attention span is getting bogged down in less than two weeks of actual war, (1) what the hell will happen if this thing goes into the summer, and (2) how the hell will we deal with the YEARS of post-war sniping at our people that an occupation will entail?

Interesting fucking times.

 

TD Extra III, 3-29-03.

Another opportunity NOT to talk about Operation Just Because, as we give a hearty dog run welcome to...

The Fat Guy is the work of Texas blogger, computer maven, and campground operator Scott Chaffin, who assures us he is not a pundit, just a guy writing about food, music, books and tractors, and when you get right down to it, throw in a little "tech-blogging", a little right-o'-center politics (not as far right in the posts as in the blogroll, by my highly skewed methods of observation) and a whole lotta da' fat guy (who, if his photo is to believed, isn't even particularly fat). The fat guy often asks aloud why he continues blogging: because you're a darned good writer, Scott, and doggone it, people like you!
TD Designaiton:  Scottie/Feist Mix

 

TD Extra II, 3-29-03.

Well, it WAS a nice afternoon here in Brooklyn; your talking dog took Baby TD for a little walk to the park and then grocery shopping and then a tiny (I do mean tiny) bit of yard work, until the skies grew overcast and then the rains began...

Let's take a bit of time off from war-blogging (is that really what I'm doing?) or, shall I say, discussing Operation Just Because, and just go back to...imposing dog breeds on blogs!!!

We'll start with a husband and wife blog pair, from the Houston area (why? JUST BECAUSE...):

Perverse Access Memory is the work of long-time blog world stand-out, Houston area blogger Ginger Stampley, and is simultaneously a tech blog, a gaming blog, a blog about blogging AND a lefty political blog, with forays into everything from immigration law to Ginger's life to, well, everything, all rolled into one seamless, slick, well-categorized, joy-to-read blog...
TD Designation:  German Spitz

Ones and Zeros comes to us from Houston's Michael Croft, husband of Ginger Stampley, and has a great deal of the sensibilities of Ginger's blog.  Like it, it is a heavily-into-tech blog, as well as gaming, and, of course, its part of the great axis of Houston area liberal bloggers.  Again, good stuff -- Texas ain't messin' with us!
TD Designation:  Tahltan Bear Dog

And now...from the land of astronauts, we go to...Alice in Wonderland...or:

Through the Looking Glass (and what Alice found there?), the seminal blogging work of one Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll's real name, of course, and we suppose, Charles' nom de blog).  Charles is becoming a lefty superstar, with witticisms worthy of the masters.  The blogroll is shortish, leaning left to left-libertarian, though the commentary is railing and biting, no mixed messages here.  I like what I see through the looking glass...
TD Designation:  King Charles Spaniel

Newssrack Blog is the work of D.C. area blogger Thomas Nephew.  Thomas appears to be a political moderate, evidently in favor of the current war, but cognizant of various opinions.  There is also a German focus to this blog (including links to a number of German bloggers) that presents an interesting perspective.  The blogroll is broad in scope and spectrum.  Another reasonable perspective coming at ya...
TD Designation:  German Hunt Terrier

(For those keeping score, or wondering what the hell these blogs have in common, this completes the dog run inclusion of the entire "O.G.", which I think means "original gang" or "old guard" or something like that on the Unqualified Offerings blogroll. As many of you have figured out by now, I HAVE no original ideas, I merely steal them from others, and this includes their blog rolls. Just wanted you all to know that.)

 

TD "Water World" Extra I, 3-29-03.

While the Iraqi savages employ children and civilians and guerrillas and suicide bombers, the United States is using the most sophisticated sonar devices (to sweep for mines) in the world: dolphins. Their handlersí concern is that many of the dolphins will go AWOL, especially when they meet up with local dolphins (and, perhaps, are persuaded that they are fighting for the wrong side?)

To supplement the Marines marine mammals, I understand, are Navy SEALS seals (actually, sea lions used for rescue operations).

You know, itís one thing to have virtually every nation in the world except Israel pissed off at us for this Iraq thing. Itís quite another if a couple of these marine mammals get hurt in combat, and PETA gets involved...

P.S.: I do not mean to make light in any sense of our military efforts. Dogs (not necessarily talking ones) have long been used in law enforcement and in rescue situations. NOT using everything we've got at our disposal (like...enough...troops...and...equipment) is the mistake, and if animal assistance gets this war over faster and easier, I'm with the program. Look: Dubya is an ass. (If you write to me, actually, I will be happy to unleash a diatribe worthy of many a longshoreman). I really do hope HE fails (BTW, I think he already has, and abysmally, I just want EVERYONE ELSE to think so).

But not at the price of the success of this operation. Our military men and women are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for our nation and our freedom. I want them to get this job done as fast as possible, and remove the tyrannical Baathist government (even if, for whatever reason, and I'm inclined to believe that those reasons are (1) fear of reprisals from Saddam and (2) fear we will abandon any uprising AGAIN, the Iraqis don't seem to be welcoming us with open arms, well other than small arms!). Let's hope that the people who (alas) GIVE the orders, give our fighting men and women the resources to get this critical job done.

 

March 29, 2003, Brooklyn, NY.

I just listened to the President's weekly radio address on National Palestine Radio (NPR). Now, the "Iraqi people" own "their wealth" (oil), but when they fight us, they are "the enemy" fighting for "the dictator". Man, I miss Peggy Noonan's speeches for the Great Communicator, after 14 years of Bush tepidity and Clinton doublespeak (in duration as well as content), just some kick-ass flat out oratory would be welcome. (Cut it out, you all know my feelings toward Dubya and how offensive I find his diction and inarticulateness.) In the 5 seconds of actual factual exegesis, he noted our advance forces were within 50 miles of Baghdad (that's 80 clicks). Lookit: U.S. forces occupy 35-40% of Iraqi territory, and 95% of airspace is within our control. As TD brother points out, this war was probably scripted for a 30-day term; we are barely at 10. So, I will concede that we are very early, information floats in and out of a fog, so, HOLD ON, PEOPLE!!!

I have been remiss in not linking to dog run member Flit, where Bruce Ralston, a Canadian military officer, has been giving some of the most in-depth, knowledgeable commentary on this war available in the universe. While Bruce is away for the weekend, take the opportunity to catch up. One of Bruce's key points is that the "embedded journalist" situation, invented by Vicky Clarke, a PUBLIC RELATIONS specialist brought in by Rummy as an Assistant Defense Secretary, is working two ways. One, journalists seem to have unprecedented access, but have a viewpoint consistent with what their handlers and units tell them. On the other, and this is INSANE, actual field communications, which should be ULTRA TOP SECRET, are being posted on the net in real time! Public relations seems to be given a higher priority than...winning the freaking war! For many of us whose opposition to the Bush Administration goes something like "this is the gang that can't shoot straight, how can we trust them with a ground war in Asia?" -- we have evidence.

Further evidence comes to us from our old buddy Steven Chapman, who notes a brilliant proposal to divvy up Iraqi oil to the Iraqi people in the manner that Alaskan oil pays dividend checks to citizens of that state. Steve correctly notes the extreme cynicism of this, and more importantly, that this reflects that we are NOT winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, and seem to be having problems figuring out what it will take to do so. More ominously, does this raise the issue of whether, regardless of casualties taken during combat (even with the horror of a suicide bombing taking out 4 servicemen), we have suffered but a handful of combat casualties, while inflicting doubtlessly heavy casualties on Iraqis.

Again, I go back to Flit from two days ago:

In eight days of warfare we have yet to see a confirmed report of an Iraqi T-72 tank being destroyed. Not one. They have somewhere over 500 of them that can still move, as far as people can tell, all in the Guard divisions. The Medina Division, the one Guard division that's been engaged at all, certainly had 100-150 of them at least. They've been seen...just not engaged or killed yet. Not that the T-72's so special, but it is somewhat more dangerous than the tanks the Allies have been busting up, which have been only the 40 year-old T-55s so far. Just something to think about.

I don't know. We are hearing that we have under-deployed left and right. For those of you willing to immediately jump to the most cynical conclusion available (and if you're still reading this site, THIS MEANS YOU!!!) it would be this: Cheney and Rumsfeld, despite the public bluster, knew bloody well how hard this would be. They ALSO knew that our Gulf War era military, still winding down from the Cold War, was much larger, so the 600,000 personnel or so deployment reflected around the same proportion of our total combat capability as the less HALF THAT of the current deployment. They ALSO knew that a much more ambitious mission here, TOTAL VICTORY OVER IRAQ, would take a force much closer to the 600,000 deployment than the 250,000 (plus British) sent in now.

So, knowing that, why would Cheney and Rummy want to keep CUTTING the size of the deployment, knowing it would extend the length of the campaign, and probably increase casualties on all sides (as early decisive victory would become much less likely)? Come on, people, you know where I'm going.

That's right: Rummy and Cheney ARE NOT intellectual mediocrities who miscalculated all this (that would be the job of the President himself, Dr. Rice, CIA DIrector Tenet and, well, everyone else Dubya has surrounded himself with). My proposition (and I'm not all that sure of it, BTW) is that they Dick and Don DID take cognizance of CIA and Pentagon reports, and knew EXACTLY what was going to happen (and then proceeded anyway).

BUT, they knew that the military components of this operation were ALWAYS secondary to the political components. Oh yes, regime change, bringing democracy to the Iraqi people. Of course. No, no, no!!! The DOMESTIC political components. With deployments in Afghanistan, North Korea, the Philippines and over 90 other countries, we couldn't POLITICALLY build up to a Gulf War sized force, and still allow majority poll support for this war. Remember: the public had to be convinced this was a gimme, or support (which was NEVER overwhelming) would disappear.

Just as Saddam seems to be learning lessons from the Somalia debacle, Dick and Cheney learned key lessons from Vietnam: get in, build up, and make pulling out SO HARD that it becomes unthinkable!!! The "rally around the troops" momentum would build up. And sure enough, that is exactly what has happened. Casualties? The idea is to keep them low on the American side, and blame civilian casualties on the other side...on the other side! So far, so good. Shock and awe? That was for DOMESTIC consumption, again, grease the skids of public opinion (we'll win in a coupla days, right?)

But Cheney was THERE in '91: George H.W. (as in wimp) Bush KNEW how hard it would be to fight Saddam to the death, possibly, it would take months, or longer, and 41 decided to quit while he was ahead. IN their golf game discussions, 41 never quite let 43 in on how hard it would be to take out Saddam, so 43 believed that it would be proverbial cakewalk (or maybe he DIDN'T, but Karl, under pressure from Cheney and Rummy, finally convinced him it would be easier than the naysayers all said).

So, we're sure as hell committed now. The gamble that Rummy and Cheney made (human lives are just not a concern if you accept this premise) is that, by under-deploying, we may actually allow Saddam to hold us off long enough for pressure to mount for us to stop short of total victory. It seems unlikely, but...

 

March 28, 2003, New York, NY.

The BBC is reporting (in a classically understated British way) that "U.S. Gears Up for Long Campaign".  U.S. ground forces commander General William "You Can Take Away Our Lives But You'll Never Take Our FREEEEEDOMMMMMM" Wallace told the BBC "Hey, this isn't the enemy we war-gamed for".  (Perhaps THAT enemy used pikes, crossbows and catapults?)

Obviously, the General has received yet more senior level briefings from "Duh.com" and its sister site, "Duh.mil".  I cannot accept even the possibility that the career military men did not anticipate this scenario. Rummy and Dicky, I can surely see THEM believing their own press releases (reality doesn't seem to matter much to them as it is).  But the generals and career military men, I CANNOT FATHOM they did not prepare for this particular eventuality.  I REFUSE to believe it.

Now, in all fairness, my understanding is that plans are afoot to bring another 100,000 U.S. service personnel to the Iraqi theater; I will accept the premise that the political need to get a big force committed trumped the military need to give them the overwhelming superiority our military men like to have.  Meanwhile, the British remain bogged down around Basra, and things are slow going as allied forces are being attacked where we didn't expect.  Baghdad is getting bombed; we haven't heard from Salam Pax since a cryptic "test" message on Tuesday, and the President's tune has now changed to "expect a long, drawn out (Vietnam-like?) war".  Oh, so far, the only known plans afoot to use banned chemical weapons seem to be on OUR SIDE ("knockout gas" a la what the Russians used to end the Moscow theatre siege -- oy vay) when things get bad in Baghdad.  Saddam is either holding back on HIS RBS (really bad shit), or else he doesn't really have any.  Time will tell.

For those of you who have some time, you may want to play a "game" that Mrs. TD introduced to me, "The Iraq War 2 Game" care of Idleworm.com.  The game would be hilarious, if it were not painfully close to several all-too likely scenarios for how this war can EASILY spiral out of control.

Once again, it looks like I picked a bad week to give up sniffing glue.

 

TD Extra II, 3-27-03.

Well, still trying to absorb the Richard Perle thing; it might well have to do with his opportunity to make 700 large from Global Crossing. His fellow DPB buddy Henry Kissinger knows all about having to bow out of "government service" when it gets in the way of the mighty buck.

As we all ponder that, ponder:

The Apostropher (taglined ďDoggedly Searching for the Crux of the BiscuitĒ) is the work of Russ, who tells us he is a technical writer from North Carolina. Russ joins the vast left wing conspiracy, with humorous and pointed commentary. Russ's blogroll is, well, tiny, all sold lefty platinum (you missed one, buddy!)
TD Designation:  German Shepherd/Labrador Retriever Mix

 

TD Extra I, 3-27-03.

Richard "Prince of Darkness" Perle (apologies to Bob "Prince of Darkness" Novak) announced his resignation as Chairman of the Defense Policy Board.  No explanation was given as to why, though Perle is in an interesting legal snit with The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh over a recent article concerning Perle's supposed business ties with Saudis.

Perle is a buddy of Rummy, and was formerly assistant defense secretary under Reagan.  He is credited with being a huge neo-con hawk, who is really happy about this whole Iraq war thing.

Interesting times, boys and girls.

 

March 27, 2003, New York, NY.

The Iraq war (Operation Just Because) continues, with U.S. paratroopers seizing an airbase in Kurdish-controlled Northern Iraq, British troops still bogged down around Basra, convoys advancing, the Iraqi convoy of "1000 vehicles" grossly overstated, and surprisingly few Iraqi surrenders.

As you all know by now, if you are a REAL war news junkie, you're best off with The Agonist, but PLEASE save his precious bandwidth and use one of his auxiliary sites (Sean Paul has gone to over 90,000 hits a day, without being on the payroll of any media conglomerate; check out here, or here).  I'm also a little concerned that we haven't heard from Salam Pax since Monday.  We'll just hope and pray for the best.

And now, for those of you who STILL care what I have to say (God bless you!) my observation is that the senior brass (generals, colonels, etc.) will tell you that we are a bit overstretched supply-line wise, we could use a bigger deployment, this wasn't going to be as easy a mission as Bush, Cheney and Rummy were selling, and they are ready nonetheless.  We do have vastly superior equipment and weaponry and better trained men.  To the extent you ever get to hear an NCO, a private or corporal, you hear that this action is much, much harder AT THIS STAGE (advances forces are maybe 70-80 clicks, that's kilometers (I love that term), from Baghdad).  They're getting sniped and attacked in the seeming Iraqi hinterlands, where Saddam's support and strength was supposed to be weaker.  We are not taking severe casualties by any means, though we seem to be inflicting casualties.  (Again, this is just what we are told, by among others "embedded" journalists, and from official sources.)

As astutely observed by Unqualified Offerings here, Saddam and company have a plan to actually come out of this not only alive, but with some sort of power base, having been "on their way out" for three decades and well-versed in "extreme crisis" scenarios.  Maybe sending their best forces out to the hinterlands to convince us that it will only get harder in Baghdad proper IS that plan.  Perhaps it is fear of newly-deployed Republican Guard units that keeps the citizenry from jubilantly welcoming our troops and keeps regular army units fighting to the death.  To my mind, it would be a good plan: slowing down and sniping at American troops as far out as possible, and forcing reinforcements and securing of supply lines as far from Baghdad as possible will keep the allied side off balance.  Further, the longer this goes, the greater public opposition in the USA and the UK will be.

To be honest, THIS IS WHY THIS ATTACK EITHER HAD TO TAKE PLACE WITH LOWER MANHATTAN STILL ON FIRE, OR NOT AT ALL.  At that point in time in late '01, with thousands of dead civilians (and hundreds dead at the Pentagon), the public would have tolerated a long, painful ground war (the kind we may be about to encounter), including the attendant casualties on both sides.  We'll see, of course, but I think public support will flag, particularly IF the Battle of Baghdad breaks into a slow trench war (complete with mustard gas, a la Ypres and Verdun!)

As noted above, Saddam may have shot his wad with his best troops NOW.  Of course, if, as is far more likely in my opinion, we forgot that this is a real country, with real national pride, and our mission is essentially to invade, occupy and humiliate it, things will be harder still.  Twelve years ago there were lots of people surrendering.  Since then, we have sold out Iraqi rebel groups time after time (abandoning them to Saddam's tender mercies).  We have bombed the crap out of Iraq, time after time, including in our quasi-legal "no fly zones".  We "protected" the Kurds, but not the Southern Shiites.  We have held firm on sanctions, which have caused untold human suffering (and yes, Saddam abused the situation for his advantage, but that may not be how the Iraqis see it).  We have tortured that nation for over a year with the belligerent TALK of THIS war.  AND, I think this is critical, out of hubris and laziness, we have foolishly set up an "indeterminate to life sentence" gulag in Cuba for uncharged, untried, yet declared and detained "unlawful combatants", that, to any reasonable person otherwise considering surrendering, may be a fate worse than death.  THAT, boys and girls, is why you follow international norms re: prisoners of war TO THE LETTER, setting the standards for same: (1) to encourage others to do the same (even if Iraqis ARE executing prisoners, it doesn't justify US not doing an exemplary job with prisoners), and even more importantly, (2) it ENCOURAGES SURRENDERS.  I personally think there have been some colossal miscalculations on the part of our national leadership.  I do think our military is good enough to make up for that, but these miscalculations will have raised the costs to our military of doing so.

Look, to be brutally honest: I really DO want to see Bush fall on his face, and possibly be so humiliated, that he has to resign before the end of his term, or at least not run for reelection.  But that's just me.

The problem with this, of course, is that a disastrous war in Iraq will kill thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands) of human beings, it will weaken the United States still further, and it will encourage and embolden terrorist groups to take their best shot at us, any one of which is too high a price.  Thus, I am forced to root for a quick, decisive victory, even as I continue to oppose this war.

 

TD Extra III, 3-26-03.

Your talking dog sends his condolences to the family of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who passed away at 76. On the whole, Moynihan fit into that all too rare category of politician: statesman. We voted for him more than once, and never regretted casting that vote.

And, as the nation loses one of its statesman, and engages in, well, a large ground war in Asia because it is not currently run by anyone even vaguely LIKE a statesman (I think I'll refer to this war as "Operation Just Because"), your talking dog will continue to give you what you REALLY want: more blog reviews (which as the Unseen Editor quipped to me, amount to 3 or 4 varieties: he/she/they are lefties (ergo I love them); are righties (ergo I respect their difference of opinion); aren't political (and are therefore interesting in their own right); are Steven Den Beste and should have their blog euthanized. But, you all LOVE the dog breeds. (I love them too!). So, loosen those choke collars, and put your paws together for:

Late Night Thoughts is the work of blogger Emma, who tells us that the blog is about "...Books, Photography, Music, and the First Amendment". Translation: itís a political lefty blog (hence, I LOVE IT!) with a left-leaning blogroll, and interesting and thoughtful forays into matters literary and artistic. Great Stuff!
TD Designation:  Skye Terrier

Trivial Pursuits is the work of Texas-lawyer-blogger Daniel (he clerks for a judge in Austin). Daniel has a compact but "balanced" blogroll, and has modestly progressive political positions (left-libertarian?), and discusses matters legal as well (notably, tort reform, a big issue down Texas way). Welcome to the world of blawg dawgs, Daniel.
TD Designation:  Legal Beagle

Interesting Monstah is the super cool (and super cool-looking) blog of mysterious (California based?) blogger Laura. The site is further to the left than, well I am (right on, sistuh!). The blogroll consists of lots of cool sites, many of which I don't recognize, and a religion section, among other things. Interesting is indeed an appropriate word. Word!
TD Designation:  Large Munsterlander

Panchayat is the group project of bloggers and academic political economists (or variations thereon) Conrad Barwa of St. Antony's College, Oxford University, and Jason Kirk and Vikash Yadav of the University of Pennsylvania. This is a specialty blog, devoted to matters South Asia (which, of course, is REAL CLOSE to matters Middle East!). It has a fabulous South Asian resource section (Bangladeshi newspapers, for God's sake!). The tone is "way out there lefty" (Conrad tells us that itís just what you'd expect from academics originating in a Third World nation specializing in this area). But the writing is compelling, and the subject matter is insufficiently explored in the blog world. Until now!
TD Designation:  Alsatian/Central Asian Olvtcharka Mix

 

TD Extra II, 3-27-03.

This week's Carnival of the Vanities is up at Dancing With Dogs here. As always, the best of the blog week in one concise setting. Your TD's entry is the "Astroturf?  The Jews...Extra".

Amidst the existential angst (or exhilaration, as the case may be) from the war, enjoy the C of the V.

 

TD Extra I, 3-26-03.

An oversight on TD's part: a site that we have linked to for a long time has somehow escaped the FULL dog run treatment of a review in the blog breeds and comments section.  Wait no more:

Talk A Blue Streak is the work of Sacramento area blogger Devra, who tells us she now is gainfully employed as a manager in a social services agency, and is a would-be writer and "mommy" to several pussy cats; there are several intriguing photographs on the site, perhaps of Devra herself?  This is an interesting site, with a progressive political slant (reflected in the blogroll), resources section that includes bloggers from California and elsewhere, as well as publications, and additionally has some spiritually related links.  The "blog of the week" contest (readers vote) is of interest as well.  Posts are generally short and sweet.
TD Designation:  Blue Lacy

 

March 26, 2003, New York, NY.

The war goes on, more or less crowding out most other news; General Wesley Clark (Retired, and a possible presidential candidate) tells us that a quick victory is right out.  The Pentagon notes that the resistance has been stiffer than anticipated.  I guess they've been getting their briefings from "Duh.com".

I must say, I'm immediately reminded of Vice President Cheney's performance on NBC's Meet the Press on March 16th, the weekend before the war (and Tim Russert's performance, too), in particular, this exchange:

MR. RUSSERT: If your analysis is not correct, and weíre not treated as liberators, but as conquerors, and the Iraqis begin to resist, particularly in Baghdad, do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties?


VICE PRES. CHENEY:
Well, I donít think itís likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators. Iíve talked with a lot of Iraqis in the last several months myself, had them to the White House. The president and I have met with them, various groups and individuals, people who have devoted their lives from the outside to trying to change things inside Iraq. And like Kanan Makiya whoís a professor at Brandeis, but an Iraqi, heís written great books about the subject, knows the country intimately, and is a part of the democratic opposition and resistance. The read we get on the people of Iraq is there is no question but what they want to the get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that.


Now, if we get into a significant battle in Baghdad, I think it would be under circumstances in which the security forces around Saddam Hussein, the special Republican Guard, and the special security organization, several thousand strong, that in effect are the close-in defenders of the regime, they might, in fact, try to put up such a struggle. I think the regular army will not. My guess is even significant elements of the Republican Guard are likely as well to want to avoid conflict with the U.S. forces, and are likely to step aside.


Now, I canít say with certainty that there will be no battle for Baghdad. We have to be prepared for that possibility. But, again, I donít want to convey to the American people the idea that this is a cost-free operation. Nobody can say that. I do think thereís no doubt about the outcome. Thereís no question about who is going to prevail if there is military action. And thereís no question but what it is going to be cheaper and less costly to do it now than it will be to wait a year or two years or three years until heís developed even more deadly weapons, perhaps nuclear weapons. And the consequences then of having to deal with him would be far more costly than will be the circumstances today. Delay does not help.
 

MR. RUSSERT: The armyís top general said that we would have to have several hundred thousand troops there for several years in order to maintain stability
.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: I disagree. We need, obviously, a large force and weíve deployed a large force. To prevail, from a military standpoint, to achieve our objectives, we will need a significant presence there until such time as we can turn things over to the Iraqis themselves. But to suggest that we need several hundred thousand troops there after military operations cease, after the conflict ends, I donít think is accurate. I think thatís an overstatement.

Cheney, of course, not only failed to answer the question asked (and Russert didn't follow up), but his prognostication seems erroneous.  We hope Cheney is right about the casualty part, but it certainly looks like this will be far longer and costlier than advertised by the Administration.  It looks like (and in the fog of war, everything just LOOKS LIKE, other than Salam Pax and his irregular reports, we have very little or NO word as to how ordinary Iraqis feel) regular Iraqi army units are putting up a stiff resistance, and our troops haven't even gotten to the hardened and hard core Republican Guard units yet.  Further, the Iraqi populace has (so far) been at best lukewarm (when not being outright hostile) to...what it seems to perceive as an American INVADING FORCE.

So, if this is some sort of psy-op on Cheney's part, itís working.  He has successfully scared the crap out of ME.

 

TD Extra I, 3-25-03.

Put your hands together for:

Doc Searls eponymous weblog is the ORIGINAL tech blog, with numerous technical details about blogging, computers, and other super cool tech stuff.  The Doc refers to himself as "of the left", though the blog does not devote all that much time and space to matters political on its homepage...though in the discussions...  The Doc is senior editor of Linux Journal, and a writer, speaker, PR man, and all around bon vivant!  As noted, there is an extensive discussion group thing going as well.  The Doc is...IN!
TD Designation:  Dachsund/Sealydale Terrier Mix

 

March 25, 2003, New York, NY.

The President states that American forces are making a "steady advance to Baghdad", (which is somewhat hampered by a big sand storm), and he asks Congress for $75 BILLION to fund this folly..., er, war.  More Americans have been captured as prisoners, more ground has been taken, and it appears, the Iraqis are resisting.

As observed by digby's Hullabaloo here (scroll down, itís there!), this figure includes only half a billion in humanitarian aid, 1.5 billion for reconstruction and ZERO, that's nothing, for post war security -- shades of Afghanistan.

The Unseen Editor and I have been exchanging pleasantries on casualty figures; Gulf War I had American deaths at around 269.  Prior to that conflict, America's 20th century wars usually resulted in 1 dead per 15 deployed soldiers, which would project to around 17,000 in this conflict.  I personally don't think that it will come anywhere near that number, as the matter of tactics, reliance on air and sea power and medical technology are all different from prior wars.

The battle analogies here are more to World War II than to anything else.  Lookit: we are invading a COUNTRY, with the means to fight back.  We are doing so with a deployment smaller (half the size, actually) used to extricate Saddam from smaller-than-Rhode-Island-Kuwait, to take him in a "to the death" battle for size-of-California-Iraq.  AND we didn't wait for many of the troops to arrive, as we were screwing around in Turkey.

This war may suddenly go swimmingly for us again.  Or it may bog down in guerilla and urban warfare.  The thought of brave men and women having their lives ended in this manner, in what is, after all, an "elective" war, should sicken all of us.  The fact that there seems to be some strategic hubris in our leadership who think that they can ignore the advice of military planners and win AT LITTLE OR NO HUMAN COST also sickens me.

The "short memories" of the American people were of Desert Storm (269 dead), and not of Vietnam (58,000 dead).  If the President said, we will do this, even if it means 10-15,000 dead young Americans, where would public opinion in support of this war be?

I think it wouldn't be where it is now.

 

TD Extra II, 3-24-03.

We'll not think of the war, or even the Academy Awards, for a few moments, and welcome:

Farrellblogger is yet another blog from new blog superpower, Ontario.  From U. of Toronto political economist Henry Farrell and Maria Farrell, we get a thinking person's blog, mixing political thought, background, philosophical and literary matters, as well as popular culture.  The blog is politely lefty-progressive, with a nice left leaning blogroll, including a section devoted to academic bloggers (of whom there are several).
TD Designation:  Llewellyn Setter

 

TD "Salam's Back" Extra I, 3-24-03.

He's back, and thankfully, so far he's made it through Shock and Awe.  I'm talking, of course, about Salam Pax, the blogosphere's man in Baghdad, tellin' it like it is, without being on the payroll of any media conglomerate.  Apparently, he has Internet access today (he says he didn't over the weekend).  I have seen several sources say that Salam "reluctantly supported the invasion".  We call people who say things like that "LIARS".  Salam Pax picked a nom-de-blog that reflects what he wants for his country, something most inconsistent with our current military actions.  Salam reminds those of us inclined to sit on the couch with the remote that our free and democratic country is killing (besides its OWN people of course) real, live human beings (the "enemy"):

The images we saw on TV last night (not Iraqi, jazeera-BBC-Arabiya) were terrible. The whole city looked as if it were on fire. The only thing I could think of was ďwhy does this have to happen to BaghdadĒ. As one of the buildings I really love went up in a huge explosion I was close to tears.

Today my father and brother went out to see what happening in the city, they say that it does look that the hits were very precise but when the missiles and bombs explode they wreck havoc in the neighborhood where they fall. Houses near al-salam palace(where the minister Sahaf took journalist) have had all their windows broke, doors blown in and in one case a roof has caved in. I guess that is what is called ďcollateral damageĒ and that makes it OK?

23/3
8:30pm (day4)

we start counting the hours from the moment one of the news channels report that the B52s have left their airfield. It takes them around 6 hours to get to Iraq. On the first day of the bombing it worked precisely. Yesterday we were a bit surprised that after 6 hours bombs didnít start falling. The attacks on Baghdad were much less than two days ago. We found out today in the news that the city of Tikrit got the hell bombed out of it. Today the B52s took off at 3pm, on half an hour we will know whether it is Baghdad tonight or another city. Karbala was also hit last night. Todayís (and last nightís) shock attacks didnít come from airplanes but rather from the airwaves. The images Al-jazeera is broadcasting are beyond any description. First was the attack on (Ansar el Islam) camp in the north of Iraq. Then the images of civilian casualties in Basra city. What was most disturbing are the images from the hospitals. They are simply not prepared to deal with these things. People were lying on the floor with bandages and blood all over. If this is what ďurban warefareĒ is going to look like weíre in for disaster. And just now the images of US/UK prisoners and dead, we saw these on Iraqi TV earlier. This war is starting to show its ugly ugly face to the world.

The media wars have also started, Al-jazeera accusing the Pentagon of not showing how horrific this war is turning out to be and Rumsfeld saying that it is regrettable that some TV stations have shown the images.

Today before noon I went out with my cousin to take a look at the city. Two things. 1) the attacks are precise. 2) they are attacking targets which are just too close to civilian areas in Baghdad. Looked at the Salam palace and the houses around it.

While buying groceries the woman who sells the vegetables was talking to another about the approach of American armies to Najaf city and about what is happening at Um Qasar and Basra. If Um Qasar is so difficult to control what will happen when they get to Baghdad? It will turn uglier and this is very worrying. People (and I bet ďallied forcesĒ) were expecting things to be much easier. There are no waving masses of people welcoming the Americans nor are they surrendering by the thousands. People are doing what all of us are, sitting in their homes hoping that a bomb doesnít fall on them and keeping their doors shut.

 Salam also lets us know:

We still have electricity; some areas in Baghdad donít after last nightís attack. Running water and phones are working.

For now.

 

March 24, 2003, New York, NY.

General Tommy Franks (you will remember him as the officer who elected to seek legal advice rather than take a clean shot at Mullah Omar in Afghanistan) tells CNN and the world that Coalition Forces are making rapid progress through Iraq.  Obviously, for those interested, turn on your TV set, and watch the "Shock and Awe" bombs burst in air, or reports of American prisoners, or ambushed Marines, or friendly fire downings of coalition aircraft, or the advances.  Or go over to Sean Paul at the Agonist who is doing a brilliant job being the Boswell of this war.

Let me jump over to prisoners.  I understand that we have taken thousands upon thousands of Iraqis prisoner, and the Iraqis have taken a handful of Americans prisoner.  On Face the Nation, Donald "I run gulags offshore so they are beyond the reach of wink wink American courts and I merrily hold U.S. citizens in my brigs" Rumsfeld told the world that Saddam "better follow the Geneva conventions" with respect to American prisoners, and was violating same by putting the prisoners on TV (query whether we do the same by showing Iraqi prisoners on CNN?).  In my humble opinion, U.S.A. prisoners are solid gold while alive; kill them, and, well, they're not.  Itís certainly possible Iraqi troops executed some captured Americans, but I'm not certain those reports are not merely helpful propaganda on OUR part.  Of course, Saddam Hussein is a tyrant, and may very well have instructed his field people to execute prisoners (or they may have the initiative to do so).  Unlike, say, Wolf Blitzer, I will admit that I have no clue.  I've called lotsa stuff wrong, and I expect I will continue to do so.

Oh, my point, yes.  From a macro standpoint, THIS is the main reason why a country (like ours) which is likely to engage in combats where its own people are likely to be taken prisoner must, that's MUST, be extremely meticulous in following all international norms.  Indeed, setting the standard in how IT treats prisoners, so that others taking our people prisoner are more likely (not certain, just more likely) to do the same.  Let's just say inventing an "unlawful combatant" class beyond the reach of law, ANY law, is a really bad idea, as are many things Rummy has come up with.

As we now learn that a fight to the death will not go as smoothly as our pundits said it would, we repeat: winning the peace is critical.  Reader K.J.S. was nice enough to send me this article by Jason Vest in The Village Voice, indicating that internally, Pentagon officials see "winning the peace" as much harder (no matter how hard winning the war ends up being.)  There's the rub: we assume we will, eventually, remove Saddam from power (Query: in a box?  in shackles and manacles?  will he "escape" a la Osama?)  THEN WHAT???

Are we cynical enough to believe that this was all an excuse to blow the crap out of the place, get many Americans, Britons and Iraqis killed, so that we can then let massive contracts to Bechtel and Halliburton? (I'm cynical enough to believe that, of course, though I suspect many of you are not).  Will we have to confront our longstanding ally Turkey, if it occupies oil-rich Kirkuk and other parts of Northern Iraq?  How long will we stay?  Will we get the UN to pay for some of the reconstruction expense, or like everything else since he took office, will Bush try to dump this on future American taxpayers earning less than $150,000 per year?

As fascinating as the exciting questions that the war itself brings, these far more mundane, long term questions will ultimately be more important to ensuring our national security.  Sadly, so far, these are exactly the kind of issues given the shortest of shrift by the Bush Administration thus far.  Itís our duty as citizens to remind it that these issues matter, and that we expect -- no, we DEMAND -- that our elected officials address them.

 

March 23, 2003, Brooklyn, NY.

I'm hearing of 50 casualties from ONE BATTLE ALONE; friendly fire takes down a UK aircraft; a dozen of so airmen may be taken prisoner; our own guy killed at least 1 and wounded a dozen in a grenade attack. The recriminations and finger pointing will soon start.

Sometime TD VP running mate Bruce Moomaw writes in to suggest we look at this article in The American Prospect by Nick Penniman and Richard Just.  Winning the peace will be FAR MORE important than how the war goes, EVERYTHING turns on it, from the future of the Middle East, to the future of American security. Well, I hope against hope that Dub and Dick and Don are up to the job, and I know better. I have read in various places that people of good will (i.e., Democrats) should now be pressing 100% of an appropriate allocation of resources to winning the peace, not winning contracts for Bechtel and Halliburton, but a "just and lasting peace". Real democracy in Iraq, and circumstances that WILL NOT lead to future terrorist attacks against, well, NEW YORK.

Anti-war resentment around the world builds; I understand that Americans have been directed to leave Indonesia. I'll say this: itís obviously too late to call this one off. Let's get in, finish it off as fast as possible, and do right by the Iraqi people. Or else.

 

TD Extra V, 3-22-03.

The war rolls on. A bon mot (reminiscent of Reagan's 1984 campaign slogan) care of Mrs. TD: Itís morning again in America, but we're all too damned depressed to get out of bed. Well, that certainly sums up MY feelings re: the current war. Anyway, enough of that, I've promised more blogroll adding than war kvetching, and that's what we'll do now:

Junius is the work of superstar blogger Chris Bertram, a senior philosophy lecturer at the UK's U. of Bristol. Chris' tagline is "Egalitarian liberalism, some philosophy, some culture, and, with luck and judgement, no bullshit". I can't sum up the blog better; the compact blogroll leans left, the posts are well-reasoned and lean, well, left.
TD Designation:  Border Collie

Regions of Mind is the work of Geitner Simmons, an Omaha-based journalist (and our second Nebraskan on the dog run), whose self-description is History, U.S. regionalism, foreign policy, politics, journalism, life. The blogroll leans right, and the posts certainly lean that way. There is an interesting links section, including matters Nebraska and of general interest. This is a polite, well-spoken treatment of its subject, which is, well, everything.
TD Designation:  American White Shepherd

(For those who notice such things, the last few posts complete the addition of the entire blogroll of The Lincoln Plawg to the Dog Run. I will review other worthy blogrolls of other worthy blogs from time to time. As always, feel free to e-mail to suggest particular blogs that themselves, or their blogrolls, which you think should be reviewed. I will try to accommodate everyone, fortunately, I'm not that popular a site, enabling me to keep this promise so far!!!)

 

TD Extra IV, 3-22-03.

The war goes on, and again, from "our side", things appear to be going as well as planned; roughly 2000 EST. The interesting action will occur as more troops reach Baghdad, of course; thanks largely to helicopter crashes, it appears that 21 USA troops are dead, as are 14 UK troops.

Given all this, I don't know what to say. I haven't heard the President tell me what my patriotic duty is now, go to work? Buy bonds? Go shopping? I don't know. In my case, I will continue to blog. My railing against the war is of interest to some; I suspect my attempt at cataloging the blog world may be of interest to more. So that is what I will continue to do. The war is too important for me not to comment on, of course, but from my still comfortable spot here in Brooklyn, blogging on is what I will do.

Antidotal is the work of Yale's Eric Tam and the University of Toronto's Manu Rangachari (I believe they are grad students, and hail from Canada). The site's tagline is A Little Something to Fight the Poison, Observations and Arguments on Politics and Ideology, Society, and the Media. The perspective is friendly/liberal/progressive (not all that surprising from a pair of Canadian academics). The blogroll is compact and left leaning.
TD Designation:  Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Free Pie is the work of blogger (and cellist?) extraordinaire Kim Osterwalder, and makes its (brilliant, i.e. lefty-progressive) point with words, pictures, comics and whatever else will do the job. The site features an extensive book and other media link resources section, and a left-leaning blog roll.
TD Designation:  Austrian Brandlbracke

 

TD Extra III, 3-22-03.

Well, amidst the war reporting I drift in and out of paying attention to (including the use of the term "terrorism" for an attack on a base in Kuwait; maybe "sneak attack", "commando raid", even "suicide bombing" if that as the case, which it was not), as of 1900 EST, no links yet, I'm certain Sean Paul over at the Agonist is on it, and the rest of the war. No matter, I will continue my mission of being a uniter and not a divider, including adding MORE great blogs to the dog run (the best damned links section on the InternetTM) as I find them. And so, we give you:

Redwood Dragon is the work of Silicon Valley blogger Dave Trowbridge, who gives us as a tagline, "Christian, anarcho-monarchist, stoogeolator, Schutzhund newbie, and once-and-future science-fiction writer." The blog is thoughtful, politically right-leaning (the blogroll certainly is), though still war-skeptical, and extremely poignant, intelligent commentary.
TD Designation:  Schutzhund (a/k/a German Shepherd)

Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy? is the work of Cambridge-based academic Iain J. Coleman (he seems to be in the physical sciences attached to Britain's Antarctic Survey program), with liberal (sensible) politics, and discussions of such liberal (sensible) matters, and PHYSICS (and other matters of general interest). Perhaps we should call him "Dr. Happy" or "Professor Happy".
TD Designation:  Anglos-Francaises

 

TD Extra II, 3-22-03.

While there have been arrests reported here stateside, over in Yemen, four people are reported DEAD at anti-war protests. Like I said before, there are many places in the world where they are very angry. Very angry indeed.

 

TD - Seth's Assignment Desk Extra I, 3-22-03.

Actually, its John Smith's assignment, in the Lincoln Plawg here (I am beyond impressed with John's thoroughness and the depth of his thought processes). Specifically, the assignment, and we'll address it to the legal eagles and legal beagles out there, is to write the definitive 100,000 word or so monograph on the Laws of War, particularly given that said laws have now been heavily edited by the Bush Administration. The "Just War" concept has seemingly been replaced by "War, Just Do It".

Not that I'd want to read such a tome myself, BTW, but I'd sure as hell like to see John's take on it! Part of those of us "bloodthirsty doves" has to do not PURELY with straight personal, visceral distrust of the entire Bush clan and all of their family retainers (though there is that), but with our fears of the price to be paid in long term consequences to world order.

BTW, I'm impressed to hear about the thousands of New Yorkers who came out for today's march (I sat this one out; something about the perfect weather!), but we kind of need a better message than to "stop the war", since the decision to undertake it has been, well, undertaken. The other long term consequences of the current Iraq war will, inevitably, redound against this City, like the previous two that resulted after Gulf War I. But with an Administration prepared to CUT TAXES FURTHER and borrow even more insanely to pay for the war, let alone the peace, long-term consequences are just not part of the equation.

 

March 22, 2003, New York, NY.

For a little perspective, our friends at Unqualified Offerings tell us here that the American embassy in Pakistan is closed until further notice; regardless of how many blow jobs the Pentagon guys give each other over "how well the war is going", the rest of the world is very, very unhappy with us. And let's face it: winning the peace will be far harder, and infinitely more important, than winning a war against an already largely defeated country.

Furthermore, we're still not sure if Turkey will complicate things by going into Kurdistan (Turkey denies it). I don't have a link yet, but I understand that a suicide bomb has gone off in the Halabja area, as rival groups there will seize the chaos to settle scores and move against each other. AND, those freaking Iraqis insist on FIGHTING FOR THEIR COUNTRY AGAINST FOREIGN INVADERS, i.e., "resistance". Damn them, can't they just roll over like we want them to?

I will send kudos to the Bush Administration's decision to place Victoria Clarke, a public relations specialist high up in the Defense Department. She apparently came up with the "embedding" concept, which allows reporters to ride along with selected military units, where said journalists remain absolutely in the dark re: war developments, except what their DOD handlers want them to know. I honestly have no problem with journalists acting as propaganda tools, as long as we all know and realize that that's what is going on.  While its a little distasteful to realize that our journalists are largely cheerleaders for (or even tools of) our military actions, let's all please don't pretend that there is something called "objectivity".

We are seeing some other unfortunate developments: I have little doubt that Rummy and company are reacting to the calls of bloodtirsty journos who scream "where's our shock and awe?" and "this is boring". It looked like the military was prepared to move deliberately, without necessarily going for quite as many cruise missiles as it used in the last 24 hours. Sadly, one could conceive that this is the same way Messrs. Malvo and Mohammed (the D.C. area snipers) started "playing to the media".

The war goes on. So far, itís proceeding as anticipated, as units move on to Baghdad. Saddam has something in mind. And itís probably not good news for anyone. Let's continue to hope and pray that this ends quickly, with as little additional loss of life as possible.

 

TD "Live from the scene, for real" Extra III, 3-21-03.

For your real live Baghdad action, go to Salam Pax. Salam is worried about the B-52 bombardment that's on its way. Let's just hope Salam and his loved ones come out of this okay.

Diane of Letter from Gotham relays that Salam e-mailed her advising that a brain-hemorrhage specialist was summoned to a location outside of Baghdad; there are rumors that Uday Hussein suffered a brain hemorrhage. Fascinating.

Thanks to Imshin (herself awaiting God knows what in Tel Aviv) for the heads up.

 

TD Extra II, 3-21-03.

Well, I guess I was incorrect on a protest here TODAY; the City seems to be gearing up for a protest TOMORROW.  No matter.

Well, apropos of nothing, let's throw some more blogs on the dog run:

Body and Soul is the work of that patron saint of lefty blogging, Jeanne D'Arc.  The posts are thoughtful, and lefty (hell, she occasional drifts to the left of ME!), and entertaining, and did I mention, lefty?  The tagline is "Thoughts on the body politic, the human soul, Billie Holiday songs (and other people's) -- with a lot more questions than answers".  The blogroll is, well, left-leaning (with an excellent resource links section).  This is a popular blog, with good reason.
TD Designation:  Chien D'Artois

The Truth Laid Bear is the work of Southern California pseudonymous blogger N.Z. Bear (who tells us the N.Z. does NOT stand for New Zealand!).  This blog has something for everyone; it appears on many lists of both left wing AND right wing blogs (I would put clearly it in the latter category, based on the tenor of the political commentary, and blogroll).  N.Z. Bear is the home of the famous "blogging ecosystem" (on which the talking dog is some sort of small rodent, or something) based on linkages AND the Weblog Metadata Initiative.  The blogroll is huge; this is a deservedly very popular site.
TD Designation:  Non-Canine (Bear)

Counterspin Central is the work of wild and crazy, bomb-throwing lefty the pseudonymous blogger Hesiod Theogeny.  No punches are pulled, and the posts are, ahem, punchy, to the point and appropriately biased (the way I like it!)  The blogroll is surprisingly concise for as bigtime a blog as this, but it leans solidly to the left.
TD Designation:  Hellenikos Poimenikos

 

TD Extra I, 3-21-03.

Itís around 1300 EST (maybe...2100 local time in Baghdad?). A CNN Breaking News E-mail reports that "massive assaults" are under way.  Shock and Awe, perhaps?

 

March 21, 2003, New York, NY.

Itís spring equinox, and weather-wise, spring is in the air here in the big city.  Of course, so is a fair amount of tension, as there is a huge police presence around the transit system, and I suspect elsewhere.  Indeed, I am told that a children's pageant in Long Island was canceled because of "the war".  We Americans are idiots.  The retaliation will not be likely coming for YEARS, it was almost two full years after the end of GWI that the first World Trade Center bombing occurred, years later still before Khobar Towers, the Cole, the embassies, 9-11...(assuming, of course, you're not one of those who denies the relationship of those terrorist acts to the Gulf War, in which case, enjoy the rest of your fantasy life)  But go ahead, everybody.  Be tense now.  Enjoy it.  Of course, the NYPD's "arrest bus" (the one they use with WHITE protestors who get plastic handcuffs and special arraignments) is in place, as a protest is scheduled today for the Grand Central Station area, I understand.

From the Agonist, (who I might add, is your one-stop source for coverage of this war, if you're looking for comprehensive, well-thought analysis, that is Ė Sean-Paul has gone "all war all the time" and we're grateful to him) we get this report that a Western front will not be coming from Iraq, but from JORDAN.  THIS is indeed a surprise, though those of you who read me regularly will note that there were reports of joint American-British and ISRAELI patrols operating on the Iraqi-Jordanian border.  Well, the war is moving right along, with "shock and awe" still awaiting their release, as key ports and oil fields and towns are seized, and the troops roll towards Baghdad.  My heart goes out to the families of the 16 Marines and British troops killed in the helicopter crash in Kuwait.  Itís an interesting facet of modern warfare that THIS is the likeliest way our military personnel will suffer casualties, more in the realm of an industrial-transit accident than a combat wound.  Still, my heart goes out to these brave men and their families, and they will, inevitably, hardly be the last casualties of this engagement.  My heart also goes out to all the brave men and women in uniform, whether operating in the Gulf or elsewhere.  And my heart goes out to the Iraqi civilian population, brutalized by tyranny for so long, who will now get to suffer some more.

Well, this is all hard to compute.  As world leader after world leader weighs in AGAINST this, I remain convinced that our President is making a mistake here, even if no one (in their right mind) will shed a tear for the Hussein family when it is finally toppled.  At the moment, we are still within the window of "quick victory" that will minimize the cost.  Let's hope that that window is closed with a decisive victory and end to hostilities, FAST.

 

TD "Astroturf?  The Jews..." Extra I, 3-20-03.

As we are on the "eve of war" (the war has, of course started, but the Administration insists that the "shock and awe" part is NOT yet underway), yesterday I received an article circulating by former State Department official William R. Polk which he calls "Dark Matter".  The article is Mr. Polk's attempt at explaining the Bush Administration's insistence on spending virtually ALL post 9-11 American goodwill, the continued viability of NATO and the U.N. Security Council, and America's good name in the world, not to mention blood and treasure, for a preemptive war against a country that does not present a credible threat to us (at a time when OTHER countries DO present credible threats).

After ruling out the official reasons (WMDs, etc.) and oil takeover, Polk gets doctrinaire.  As the article is 21 pages, I will not reprint it, and I have no link for it (though if you e-mail me and request it, I will forward the whole thing to you), I will reprint the money lines here:

So, I have been driven to conclude, beyond what we all have been reading about and discussing, there is a hidden agenda, the political equivalent to dark matter, that dominates American policy toward Iraq.

 

In this hidden agenda, I find three elements that seem of particular importance:  1) a new strategic vision of American world dominance; 2) a messianic thrust of Christian Fundamentalism and (3) a relationship between Christian Fundamentalism and Israeli Zionism.

Yup.  Let's bring the Jews into it.  Now, a full reading of the article and one DOES NOT see that Polk is blaming the Wolfowitz-Perle-Feith troika (we can add William Kristol, I suppose) of neo-con Zionist hawks, but Polk is ACTUALLY making a more interesting point about Christian fundamentalism than anything else. I must admit that my knee-jerk reaction was rather immediate:  itís another big lefty blaming the Jews for the world's ills!  But it's not.  What is interesting, however, is how quickly we come to that conclusion.  Be it the remarks of Congressman Moran, or my personal observations at one of the New York anti-war protests, or even in subtextual readings to a rather well thought out monograph, there do seem to be interesting questions being asked: ARE the cadre of Jews in high places dictating AMERICAN national policy for some sort of sinister "Jewish" interest?

In the "I'll report, you decide" department, let me give you Polk's ENTIRE discussion of the Zionist angle:

How does Iraq fit into this picture?  The rationale was spelled out in June 1999 by Paul Wolfowitz in a speech at the Israeli-sponsored Washington Institute.  There he said that with Saddam Husain's regime destroyed, the Palestinians would be forced to make peace on Israeli terms. As the American conservative leader, Patrick J. Buchanan,  pointed out in The American Conservative (March 24, 2003) "a passionate attachment to Israel is a 'key tenet of neoconservatism.'"

 

However, the suggestion that Israel and its American Christian and Jewish supporters are involved in the administration's Middle Eastern policy making has drawn much-feared and politically-lethal charges of anti-Semitism.  Campaigns against those opposing this policy have reached beyond public office to embrace also the American academic community.  Buchanan goes on to decry the use of the charge of anti-Semitism "to nullify public discourse by smearing and intimidating foes and censoring and blacklisting them and any who would publish them.  Neocons [the "Neo-conservatives"] say we attack them because they are Jewish.  We do not.  We attack them because their warmongering threatens our country, even as it finds a reliable echo in [Israeli Prime Minister] Ariel Sharon."

 

The danger in these moves is not just bitter divisiveness in the American community, bad as that would be, but also creating an atmosphere in which rational discussion of what is in the nation's best interest and what preserves the essential features of a free, open and democratic society will be difficult or, perhaps eventually, impossible.

You know what?  HE'S RIGHT.  I obviously wish he could pick a better spokesman than Holocaust-denier Pat Buchanan, but as odious as is the messenger, it doesn't make the POINT any less valid.  We have reached the point where RATIONAL DISCUSSION of this issue seems to be off the table.  Just MENTION Jewish or Israel-related interests as having influence in American policy (as if they, or "we", DON'T!), and the charges of anti-Semitism will fly as fast as any similar racist charges might fly from a Sharpton or a Jackson.  Congressmen Moran's remarks, in particular, "[but for] the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this" need to be examined.

Moran's statement is, at one level, ridiculous on its face, insofar as but for the strong support of GEORGE W. BUSH, this war would not be happening, and last I looked, Dubya claimed to a Protestant.  Cheney?  Ditto.  Rumsfeld?  Ditto.  Powell?  Rice?  Karl Rove?  Furthermore, my understanding is that polls show support for this war among Jews to be pretty close to the levels of everyone else in the country.  Need I go on?  Moran was not derided (and forced to resign from a regional leadership post) for being STUPID; he was so derided for being ANTI-SEMITIC.  And to be honest, I'm not sure his remarks were or were not so intended (he did later apologize for them).

But: this is now an 800-pound gorilla of American politics.  Can we rationally discuss policies that may be beneficial, or harmful, to the interests of the State of Israel, without merely making the DISCUSSION of those policies hair-trigger tied to charges of anti-Semitism?  I will say that as an American Jew (note the American part first, for the sudden "divided loyalty" crap has emerged, we forgot to put Gary Hart on the list of potential martyrs to this issue), I would just as soon see whether or not policies are being enacted because of the influence of powerful lobbyists, such as those who purportedly represent "my" "Jewish interests", or are being enacted because they are sound policies.

Secrecy, innuendo and subtext are going to get WORSE with our current Administration and its penchant for secrecy and relying on falsehoods to "prove" its positions.  Indeed, we are pretty close to a reinstatement of the "Alien and Sedition Acts", and our courts give us scant hope of being the last bastion of freedom.  (Hilariously if it were funny, THIS WEEK Justice Antonin Scalia accepted a "free-speech award" in Ohio on condition that the media be barred from the event!)

The knee-jerk shrill cry of anti-Semitism whenever anyone goes NEAR this issue is not serving my interests as either an American or as a Jew. If public officials or candidates make statements, let's judge them on their accuracy and intent, rather than on some p.c. subtext.  In short, as some book I read said somewhere, let there be light.  The truth shall set us free.  Yada Yada Yada, etc.

 

March 20, 2003, New York, NY.

Although Matt Drudge is reporting that Pentagon officials are giving each other fellatio with the thought that they "really" killed Saddam in the "decapitation strike" and put a double on TV last night, Israel respectfully disagrees. (via The View from Here).  If anyone knows if itís really Saddam, it would be the Israelis.  I'll take their word on this, right now.

Of course, so far, the talking dog, the IDF, Drudge AND the Pentagon have yet to be all that accurate about much with this war (and the Pentagon is actually calling the shots!), so who knows?  I just think it ain't gonna go down that easy.  Saddam is now hunkered down underground.  Besides, why would his people fight on if he were dead?  Why get yourself killed?  Loyalty to his sons cannot possibly be at the same level as loyalty to the despot himself.

So, war it is.

Well, I will agree with the President: having gone to this point, half-measures are right out, and anything short of total victory will be an even bigger disaster than total victory promises to be.  Even as we disagree with this President and his policies, let us wish our fighting men and women well, and hope that they end this with as little loss of life as is possible.

 

TD "I Stand Corrected" Extra III, 3-19-03.

It appears that this military assault is being dubbed "Operation Iraqi Freedom".

Well, we'll know soon if we took out Saddam in the first shot. Given my track record, I shouldnít be guessing about anything in this war.

 

TD "War's On" Extra II, 3-19-03.

22:20 hours EST. The President just came on and announced the start of Gulf War II, in a 4-minute scary speech (he looked like his Dad, THAT is scary). Well, war's on.

A target of opportunity was supposedly stricken, where Saddam was thought to be. Something tells me he wasn't. Just a guess, but Saddam is probably NOT dead, repeat, Saddam is probably NOT DEAD (though, we have some time!). If he IS DEAD, then technically this has to be over. We needn't try to kill lots of ordinary Iraqis. Further, no cool name has been selected for the operation. I suggest "Operation Fuck Your Uncle, Unclefucker". (Unclefucker being one of Dubya's "pet" names for Saddam.)

None of this is funny. We are going into serious shit, and we are led by a fucking clown. I'm watching CNN, and its a fucking zoo over there. Should be fascinating for viewers. Hey, that's who this war is for, anyway, right? Especially viewers in KEY SWING STATES. (Itís sure as hell not for MILITARY purposes; Iraq is, and has been, a fucking basket case for a long time. At least we are finally letting Iraqis surrender.)

Ordinarily, with an American war of aggression starting, I would be in a foul mood. Well, I am. It undercuts the joy with which I would welcome the arrival of what amounts to a "blogchild". I don't know how to react when said blogchild happens to be the work of my actual brother. So, let's just give a big dog run special welcome to:

The Rabid Dog, the Evil Righty Brother of The Talking Dog is, well, just that. The blog is about a year-and-a-half younger than its older, wiser, lefter brother; TD Brother Fred is a bit younger still. To paraphrase Get Smart, imagine if the TD used his brilliant wit and rhetorical powers for the dark side, instead of for niceness...  If he did, you would get...The Rabid Dog. (Note: the blogger formerly known as the Rabid Dog is currently known as The Raving Atheist), I smell, guest posts!
TD Designation:  Rabid Dog (quarantine, we can cure this one)

 

TD Extra I, 3-19-03.

Itís now 2100 EST, and the President DID NOT start the bloody war on time. Sure, some incursions on the beach at Basra (a "fire fight", yeah, sure) and stepped up bombings in the "no-fly" zones, but let's face it: Bush DID NOT start the war on time, pissing off many an expectant cable TV viewer. Further, Drudge reported he would have a conference at 9 p.m., but quickly had to recant...

As we await the bombs...let's pay a call on...

Rantburg, "Raw Meat for the Mind" is the magnum opus of Baltimore area blogger Fred Pruitt, who describes himself as an ex-army man, ex-company man (as in the Acme Industrial Company) and current computer programmer, who spends most of his time with his wife, cats, job and blog. I believe him: the blog effort is monumental, as Fred quite literally compiles the news of the world, from himself and other contributors, but man, is there an awful lotta stuff here. With Fred's background, you might think the tone would be hard-ass patriot, and you'd be right! The blogroll is lengthy and leans to the right, and a resource section includes, among other things, a lefty nut section and other information that is actually encyclopedic in scope. Be prepared to hang around Rantburg a while.
TD Designation:  Bergamasco

 

March 19, 2003, New York, NY.

Around ten hours to go until the ultimatum runs out, by my count.  My understanding of Saddam's plans is that he is to escape the American attack and run to the Papal Nuncio and claim diplomatic immunity...no, wait, that was Noriega.  We have no clue as to what's coming, and again, let me take this opportunity to wish the best for Salam Pax and his loved ones.  A humanitarian crisis is looming: Syria just closed its border and travelers are being stranded.

The Carnival of the Vanities travels to Wylie Blog this week; your TD's entry concerns why I once favored removing Saddam, but why I am opposed to it now (and note that I am wrong again on a war-start prediction!)  Check out the C of the V, the best of blogging in one place!

CNN reports that the spin-meisters are NOW saying that there may be a "tactical" advantage to delaying a military strike.  Really?  A sandstorm blew in over the Kuwaiti desert, hampering visibility, and presumably, military operations.  Temperatures continue to rise, and the skies continue to clear up, it sure looks to me like waiting now will be as productive militarily as waiting until now has been diplomatically.  But, as always, what do I know?

Meanwhile, in Israel, officials are just about ready to issue the order for citizens of that nation to carry their gas masks and attendant kits with them at all times.  Itís somewhat more serious than Tom Ridge and the Keystone Kops of Homeland Security, with "duct tape and plastic sheeting", and "kiss your ass good-bye".

What worries me, is that one of these days, we may actually NEED to be serious about these things stateside.  The Clintonian legacy of peace and prosperity, now 26 months in the rearview mirror, is becoming a distant memory...

 

TD Extra II, 3-18-03.

As the existential angst continues to build (we're around 24 hours in to the 48 hour ultimatum), I will continue to do something mildly "life affirming", even if it only means adding some blogs and blog descriptions to the dog run...and for those of you on the wrong...er, right, side of the political spectrum, who think you are underrepresented on the dog run (you're certainly overrepresented in our government) here are a few "bones" for y'all on the dog run:

Cinderella Bloggerfella is, I believe, a UK-based blogger with a fascinating focus on matters Eastern and Central European. C.B. has a sophisticated sense of humour, and a sophisticated sense of the big picture. The blogroll features lots of similar (sophisticated and witty) bloggers, and has a European news resource section (including foreign language sources).
TD Designation:  Cirneco Dell 'Etna

Assume the Position is the work of Lynxx Pherrett, in my opinion, the best pseudonym out there. This blog, BTW, is ALSO some of the most thoughtful commentary on the hard-right side of the aisle: little cheap name calling, just well-thought out, well-documented positions. The blogroll is, well, a who's who of the hard right. Though I disagree with the bulk of L.P.'s positions (including the one he'd like me to assume!), these opinions are worthy of respect and consideration.
TD Designation:  Non-Canine (Lynx/Ferret)

Flit is the work of Toronto blogger Bruce R., and is, a well-written, hard-hitting, humorous, and interestingly eclectic blog; positions seem to be Bush-skeptical, pro-Israel, pro-the-War, with a wide net cast.  Also, befitting something with a title "flit", posts are short and manageable to read.
TD Designation:  Flat-Coated Retriever

 

March 18, 2003, New York, NY.

"The world braces as the deadline looms" sayeth CNN here.  Other details include our upgrade to Orange Alert; threatened postponements of the NCAA basketball tournament; God knows what here in New York City; Tony Blair in deep doo-doo at home; and Dubya, well, let's not wake him up yet.  Saddam and Qusay have rejected the "git outta town" demand, perhaps planning on either (1) some sort of last minute deal to do just that; or (2) to go all Wagnerian on us (U.S. officials are hasty to point out all the goodies in Saddam's arsenal, VX and the like); or (3) Saddam and Qusay, and maybe Uday, will get to go down as martyrs to Islam.

I don't know.  This has all been handled in the most maddening way possible. Israeli Blogger Imshin notes a Times of London report that Israeli special forces are working with British and American counterparts on the Jordanian-Iraqi border.  Stick around and read her description of "sealed room" preparations.  Our President has opened a can of whup-ass that will profoundly effect real live human beings, millions of them on "our side".  This is the shape of things to come people.  I picked a bad week to give up swearing.  Maybe it is absolutely necessary, maybe Saddam has incredibly bad shit and plans to use it, but no one seems to want to let us in on that.  I don't know, I wish I had something poetic or profound to say now.  (Instead, I observe the difficulties in filling a simple prescription near my house, and wonder what will happen if fucking REAL GERM WARFARE comes upon us.)

I keep saying this because, well, I'll go insane if I don't.  Being a military strongman alone, without attendant intelligent matching policies such as engagement and cooperation, makes the citizenry LESS SECURE.  Just ask the Israelis.  I have no doubt that, since the likeliest point of terrorist retaliation will be my city, which the Bush Administration has, just as the Bush I administration had, by its actions, made MY CITY, the largest and most important city in this country, FAR MORE LIKELY TO BE VICTIMIZED BY TERROR.  The reaction of the current Bush Administration will parallel that of ex-Secretary of State James Baker in another context:  fuck 'em, they didn't vote for us.  So much for the "uniter not a divider", who promised to be President of ALL the people of this country.

Alas, I wish him luck in this folly, for everyone's sake, let it be quick, and let the loss of life be minimal all around.

 

TD Early Morning Extra I, 3-18-03.

We will take my partially Bush-induced insomnia (why can't HE get sick, AND Dick Cheney, too, it doesn't have to be fatal or permanent, just debilitating for the next two years or so, and hand over our government to someone who KNOWS WHAT THE &^%$% THEY ARE DOING? Sorry...). We will take this opportunity to look at more worthy blogs. As the Bush Administration prepares to piss off the Islamic world, let's take a look at a couple of worthy blogs by Islamic practitioners:

Veiled 4 Allah is the work of Al-Muhajabah, "the niquabi paralegal", who describes herself as studying to be a paralegal, an American convert to Islam of Scotch-Irish and Slovenian descent, a Hopkins grad who worked in the computer field, but her full Muslim dress seemed to be a problem in the high-tech field, and hence, her current career endeavors. The blog includes current events (of interest to a woman of Islam, and interesting in general), Quranic passages, tenets of Islam, and other fascinating material. The blogroll includes Islamic resources and a decently diverse blog list, including some of the bigger Middle East specialists.
TD Designation:  Bedouin Shepherd Dog

and on a similar theme...

Bin Gregory Productions, is the work of Bin Gregory, a "how I say", American Anglo who has converted to Islam, and has now moved to Malaysia where he has lived for ten years (he has an interesting chart paralleling himself and "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh). The posts are a fascinating blend of matters Islam, matters Malaysia, and just matters Bin Gregory. The blog has an extensive Islamic resource links section, and limited blogroll and other links of interest.
TD Designation:  Mahratta Greyhound

 

TD Extra II, 3-17-03.

The President gave the world a St. Patrick's Day message, and gave Saddam and his sons 48 hours to leave Iraq, or the bombs start falling. Listening to the President should be confidence-shaking, even to those who believe in the wisdom in the coming US-UK unilateral aggression. The man is inarticulate, and smug. He does not inspire confidence.

In the midst of existential angst (let's face it, as I keep saying, terrorism is a tactic of the WEAK; rubbing these guys' face in it will INCREASE the likelihood of terrorism against Americans, just as rubbing Palestinians' face in it keeps things hot in Israel.)

Amidst these trying times, letís review some blogs:

Blog Junky, Oregon-based bloggers Mark (and Chimera?) tell us the blog is for the political omnivore, and that's not a bad description for a blog that's apparently pro-war, Bush skeptical, and all around amusing. The compact blogroll features lefties, righties, HARD righties (LGF and that OTHER Rottweiler), Oregon bloggers and other (of which TD's blog directory has made the cut). Be careful, this blog might be addictive.
TD Designation:  Chinook

Blamblog is the work of Toronto blogger Brett Lamb, and is entering its second year, coming to us from nascent blog world superpower Ontario (and thanks to Chip Tijuana for telling us about Blamblog). This blog is amusing as all hell, from a kinda left o' center perspective one would expect from our friends North of the Border, and takes us on a very amusing random walk around Brett's life, complete with scripts and everything.
TD Designation:  Shetland Sheepdog

 

TD "Vindication" Extra I, 3-17-03.

Advantage TD: The USA, UK and Spain announced that they would NOT submit their UNSC resolution for a vote.

 

March 17, 2003, New York, NY.

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all.  Alas, much work must be done, even as New York's St. Patty's Day Parade blares on outside my window (making it even harder to work, on this nearly 70 degree Monday!).  The Unseen Editor asks me to pass this on to you, a New York Times report, as an IDF bulldozer ran over Rachel Corrie of Olympia, Washington and killed her, as she was attempting to protest Israeli demolition practices.  Nice.

This comes after Israeli forces killed two ISRAELIS, security guards, who it mistook for Palestinians.  The IDF is getting relentless.  I have discussed at length here why there is no paradox that the nastier IDF forces get with their Palestinian neighbors, the LESS SAFE the average Israeli feels.  Terrorism is a response of the weak; go ahead, weaken them some more.  Somehow, more terrorists will break through.  Itís just the way it is.  The ultimate resolution is reconciliation, not repression.  Not that anyone wants to listen to me.  BTW, Palestinian sources report at least 9 dead in ongoing clashes in Gaza.  Lessons galore for Israel, and the United States, again, assuming anyone wants to listen.  (Good luck there, TD)

Maybe the coming war (tomorrow? Wednesday, maybe?) will settle things there; I understand Israel is the one country besides this one (if you even believe that this country supports it) supporting the coming war.  Hey, war is good for stock markets, right?  Isn't that what Oskar Schindler said?  Anyway, the markets are rallying...

Dubya promises a speech tonight, some sort of ultimatum about Saddam gettin' outta town by sundown, or something.  I heard that Americans were directed to leave Syria, Israel and Kuwait, Russia and Germany were pulling their people out of Baghdad, and lotsa other bad *&^% going down.  Maybe a last minute deal can be pulled out, but I don't see how. 

This one is going down this week, let's hope it goes well, and fast, with an absolute minimum loss of life ON BOTH SIDES.  I have no problem with Dubya "gambling his presidency".  But Dubya is gambling the ongoing world standing of the United States, thousands of lives, billions of dollars, and possible terrorist reprisals.  Let's hope this one is over fast and cheap.  That's all I can say.

 

TD Extra V, 3-16-03.

Sundays are always angst ridden here at Casa Hablando Perro, hence, more posts! With thanks to Roger Ailes, will you look at this? A talking fish...

 

TD Extra IV, 3-16-03.

With thanks to Paul Frankenstein, we give you this blast from the past, from the January 18, 2001 Onion. The CLinton-Gore peace and prosperity nightmare is, indeed, a distant memory now.

 

TD Extra III, 3-16-03.

As I took Baby TD to our local vest-pocket park to play with lots of other small children on what was a beautiful sunny day here in Brooklyn (the nicest day in several months, actually) my thoughts turned, for a moment, to the citizenry of Baghdad. The blog world obliges. Read this, from Salam Pax, the Baghdad based blogger.

Just read it.

TD Extra II, 3-16-03.

The Unseen Editor points me to this Zogby Poll showing that 57% of Americans support the coming War of USA-UK Aggression. Of course, as I noted to him, the very last question on the poll, would you support the war without significant UN or international support, the bellicose still prevail, but at 49% for to 47% against (with a 3% margin of error).

Interestingly, Zogby notes that the "support" for this war is not broad based, but tends to parallel very closely the people likeliest to trust Bush anyway (men, Republicans, Protestants, and heavy-church-attending-Catholics, among others).

As the Azores' photo op shows that "tomorrow is the last day for diplomacy" according to the President, that means that notwithstanding the UN inspectors' Tuesday date for a report on Iraqi cooperation, military operations will almost certainly start on Tuesday. Saddam can, I suppose, resign or commit ritual suicide between now and then, but barring that, it sure looks like shock and awe in less than two days.

 

TD Extra I, 3-16-03.

Truth is a Blog is the work of blogger Johnny Bardine, who shows us over and over again that he is a reasonable man. Though nominally in favor of the coming war of aggression, Johnny is opposed to torture (even of al-Qaeda guys), and thinks that the career of Alec Baldwin is proof of God's wrath towards us, for something or other we did. The blogroll is, well, like mine: leaning left, with some of the important righties on there, because the TRUTH does not ALWAYS conform to our subjective views of it (just mostly!).
TD Designation:  Tyroler Bracke

 

March 16, 2003, Brooklyn, NY.

We seem to have survived the Ides of March. As you know, I periodically quote Israeli sources on the timing of the upcoming war, and so far, said sources have yet to be right. Apparently, there is some degree of controversy in Israel over these pronouncements as well; from Israel, Adrian the Ex-Pat Egghead has details here. (Israel's solution will be to use early French quatrains).

Meanwhile, from Australia, blogger Boynton writes in to CONFIRM that she is female (as if there really was any doubt on that score), and that she owns a Labrador. We will update Boynton's "permanent record", and add "Labrador" to the TD designation mix...

From inside blog-ball, we go to...The Daily Star of Lebanon reporting that an Arab League mission to Baghdad has been postponed...at the request of Iraq (with Syria and Lebanon, wait, that means just Syria) asking for a delay as well, ostensibly to see the outcome of a UNSC resolution. Although some in the Arab League have called for Saddam Hussein to step down, mostly, the group just issues rhetorical opposition to the USA-UK war of aggression.

Meanwhile, our old friends at Hizbollah have vowed to meet American and British forces with suicide missions and "martyrdom operations". I guess this is their way of telling us that their Syrian masters, who, despite their tacit cooperation in the first Gulf War, and their alleged cooperation in the War on TerrorTM (despite their ongoing state sponsorship of, ahem, terrorist groups such as...Hizbollah) don't like the coming war. (It seems unlikely to me that this is anything but a rhetorical threat. Hizbollah probably does not want to join al-Qaeda on the United States' role-de-merde.)

Also from The Daily Star (via Al Jazeera) we get this even-handed statement by my old Sutton Place neighbor Kofi Annan, hoping that peace will break out at the last possible moment (which would, of course, vindicate my predictions of last September to that effect). I don't see it, I'm afraid.

Of course, today marks 15 years since the Halabja massacre, duly noted by Kurds. There, you will recall, Iraqi forces murdered 5,000 or so men, women and children, with conventional attacks, and just to make sure everyone was dead, chemical agents as well. Indeed, this incident seems to be a key flashpoint in asserting that Saddam has and will abuse WMDs. And here we have the dilemma, and why I am so inconceivably pissed at the Bush Administration, and honestly, wish we had the sort of system where we could have a no-confidence vote and force it to resign.

Because...Saddam is a bad man (although, no one operates in a vacuum; thanks for this to Nathan Newman, in an urgent phone call between Blair and Bush, Blair asks, "Level with me George, how do you know FOR SURE that Saddam Hussein STILL has poison gas and nerve agents?" "Tony", Bush responds, "Dad kept the receipts.") An extremely bad man. I have made him one of the 15 or 20 figures in my "Ten Most Evil Men of the Twentieth CenturyTM". There is something visceral about just how evil Saddam Hussein is, and more so than the Kuwaiti infant respirator incident (a lie, BTW), and atrocities in the Iran War, the thousands of political prisoners and enemies tortured and/or murdered, or even invading Kuwait or lobbing scuds at Israel, Halabja remains a seminal moment in the reign of the tyrant.

It is BECAUSE Saddam is such a bad man that in my humble opinion, the 9-11 aftermath, and the designation of states that sponsor or harbor terrorism is every bit as bad as those that carry it out, that I thought the winter of 2001-2002 would have been the perfect opportunity to carry out an assault against Iraq, and remove that particular sponsor of terrorism once and for all. This blog cried out for this for almost its first year, BTW. At that time, we had full international support, and with the smell of downtown New York still on fire, French or German (or, LOL, Belgian) opposition to such action would have been seen as in the worst possible taste, or more likely, to cover up their own sanctions violations in Iraq, and few others would likely have been emboldened to step up to try to block American self-defense.

Instead, the decision was made to play it for domestic political gain, and the time was used not to BUILD international consensus, but to destroy it. And that's where we are now. The delay has had costs, serious costs to American prestige and credibility. And now, it is unclear if even a quick, decisive American victory can offset those costs. Of course, if victory is anything but quick and decisive, the costs of a prolonged engagement have now been raised to absurd levels. I think those that yell "blood for oil" or simply knee-jerk oppose American use of power are not doing a service to this argument (and indeed, embolden the Administration). The reasons to oppose this war are extremely practical: the likely costs (money, lives, national prestige, international order, likelihood of terrorists acquiring WMDs) are immeasurably high compared to the likely benefits (getting rid of one particular dictator, who was strategically boxed in anyway), and we have no plans whatsoever to spend the money to "win the peace".

Although here's hoping that the soft air of the Azores allows the President to consider softening his position, my best guess is that shock and awe commences in around 48 hours, at roughly 1800 GMT on 18 March. The good news, I've been wrong about most of it so far.

 

March 15, 2003, Brooklyn, NY.

OK, beware the Ides of March! It is upon us. Mazel tov to Hu Jintao on his ascension to the Presidency of the People's Republic of China, along with the other leadership of the world's most populous nation, as reported by The People's Daily. That leadership still seems to be Jiang Ze Min, of course, whose help we will need in abundance in diffusing the North Korean non-crisis. Especially as we insist on &^%$ing around re: Iraq. A date troops are concerned with: March 21st, Spring equinox, start of Kuwaiti summer, when daytime temperatures surge through the triple digits.

Here is an extremely misleading headline from our friends at Pravda which notes "secret USA-Iraq negotiations" (discussed at the end of the piece). The article is basically a recap of the UNSC hijinks of the week. The conclusions, that Iraq has agreed to all conditions demanded by the USA EXCEPT a permanent USA military base inside Iraq, immediate recognition of Israel and immediate USA control over the Iraqi oil industry, strikes me as more likely to be out of The Onion, but if there is some way to resolve this fiasco non-militarily that Bush can call a "victory", I'll take it.

Meanwhile, in an impressive disconnect, world leaders apparently welcomed the Bush Administration's "road map for peace"; indeed, I understand that the President plans to meet with the new Palestinian prime minister (doubtless in the White House's Map Room) when he accepts the position. This, as the line between the "Enforcement of the No-Fly Zones" and the "War to Avenge Papa BushTM" continues to blur, this time with heavy B-1 bombers to destroy Iraqi radar facilities. British Foreign Minister Jack Straw announces that UNSC 1441 makes the USA-UK war of aggression "perfectly legal" (i.e., we have to destroy the UN's authority to SAVE the UN's authority; this is the thinking when you recycle Nixon era officials). USA warships, stymied by Turkey, are quietly moving through the Suez Canal, towards optimal firing positions, by, say...Tuesday?

I guess, in reflection on this "Ides of March", in a month named after the Roman god of war, why not start this massacre on a Tuesday, a day named after a German god of war.

 

TD Extra III, 3-14-03.

Joe from That Other Blog writes in to tell us he is a "politics junkie" native Long Islander now living, with his girlfriend, in HER native Stockholm. We will add this to your permanent record, Joe, (to which some of us will also add our envy).

And we will also welcome to the dog run:

TBogg, the work of blogger Tom, who describes himself as "Faithful husband, soccer dad, basset owner, and Peggy Noonan stalker". He is also an articulate, well-spoken, wild and crazy lefty genius. The blogroll features, well, big lefties (got room for one with a bark and a bite, Tom?). The commentary is crisp, biting...in short, itís must see T.B[ogg].
TD Designation:  Top Dog/Bassett Hound Mix

 

TD Extra II, 3-14-03.

Here at the talking dog, its ladies' night! From two disparate locations in the Anglosphere, we give you:

Boynton, a wry writerly blog from a female blogger based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Boynton is the name of a minor character in the Shirley Temple film "Our Little Girl". The blog strays from the strictly "political" (actually, politics appears NOT to be one of the literary themes); the blog is like a literary wind-up clock, spring after spring uncoiling slowly, brilliantly, on different themes, seemingly unconnected, until one ponders the grand plan.
TD Designation:  Labrador/Australian Shepherd/Boykin Spaniel Mix

Icicle Fief: Home of The Ice Queen comes to us from another Anglospherica provincial capital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. This is the extremely amusing work of blogger Susan, who tells of characters named Boomer, and her son, the Ice Prince, and others, as Susan takes us on a random walk around her life, her musings, popular culture, lists of amusing things and amusing questions.
TD Designation:  Finnish Lapphund

 

TD Extra I, 3-14-03.

And so, as I find myself YET AGAIN feeling existential dread at the thought of yet another weekend's harbinger of the "War to Avenge Papa BushTM", itís time to pretend that "life just goes on".  So we give you...

That Other Blog, the rants and musings of Joe Rospars, who seems to be yet another smart, well-informed, i.e., LIBERAL blogger.  Joe describes himself as a "politics junkie" native Long Islander now living, with his girlfriend, in HER native Stockholm.  The blogroll is compact, and well represented in the dog run already.  Like the blogroll, the posts are smart, well-written, and RELEVANT, and do not waste time getting to the point.  The tagline is "Usually interesting, sometimes funny, infrequently read."  Well, Joe, we'd like to think its only 2 out of 3...
TD Designation:  Border Collie

 

March 14, 2003, New York, NY.

Beware the Ides of March, even if that's tomorrow.  For some outstanding scorekeeping on the whole UNSC fiasco, I commend you to John Smith of Lincoln Plawg, particularly here, where John even opens up the can of whup-ass called the "United for Peace Resolution", authorizing messes like this to be dumped in the lap of the General Assembly!  It won't happen...or will it?  I am inclined to say "Advantage talking dog", as I predicted over and over that, rather than miss having to proceed militarily in the face of a negative vote in the UNSC, the USA and UK would sooner withdraw the resolution than go AGAINST the express will of the "world community" (even if that means...France).  Of course, I ALSO predicted that there would be no war at all against Iraq, which now seems an unlikely prediction given that the President has transferred our entire military to the region surrounding...Iraq.

We will soon watch in both shock and awe as we blow the crap out of a country that has been under sanctions for over a decade, lost two major wars in 15 years, doesn't seem much of a threat to the United States, is actually under SOME level of cooperation with UN inspectors as it literally bulldozes missiles...  Sure makes me proud to be an American.

Seemingly, this realization that a "second" (or 19th for sticklers) UNSC resolution re: Iraq is demonstrated by the bizarre decision to hold a SUMMIT this weekend between Bush, Blair and Aznar in the convenient AZORES (I personally like the Bahamas or St. Martin, although half of THAT island belongs to Saddam Hussein... er, France).  It sure looks right now like ANY USA-UK backed UNSC resolution is going down (BTW, that's ANY UNSC resolution, although I have an idea, how about "Resolved: Zionism is Racism"?  I'll bet France wouldn't veto THAT!)

As if you're all not ALREADY saying "What the f___?", George W. Bush continues to astound, by opening the glove-compartment of state and pulling out the "Road Map for PeaceĒ, upon the confirmation of the Palestinian Authority's new prime minister.  Among the conditions laid out are (I guess) a cessation of Israeli settlement expansion and further "distancing" from Arafat.

At this point, everything Bush does reminds me of the scene in Blazing Saddles where Sheriff Bart (Cleavon Little) finds himself staring down the barrels of dozens of guns (when his new town's residents realize that their new sheriff is a black man).  Sheriff Bart pulls out HIS OWN gun, points it at his head, and says "One false move and the sheriff gets it", at which point the townsmen say "Hold it boys, I think he means it" and stand down.  We are witnessing legerdemain, based on the American audience being either stupid, or in on the joke.  Case in point: I had a conversation with a TD family member, who said "Itís not like they gave US any warning" -- apparently, believing that most or all of the 9-11 hijackers were IRAQI.  When Bush has convinced that particular New Yorker (two of whose family members were within 100 meters of the WTC on "the day") that 9-11 was the work of IRAQ, I can safely say now that he has "made his case".

Advantage: Bush.  Repeat the lie long enough, and everyone believes it.

 

TD Extra II, 3-13-03.

A warm welcome to:

Sugar, Mr. Poon, the work of blogger Mr. Poon, who tells us he is a second year law student in Philadelphia, and really likes golf (and he has restrained himself on the Krispy Kremes) and he seems to like the movie "Fletch" (excellent choice Ė for a while, that movie even made me believe, erroneously, that Chevy Chase should NOT be euthanized).  Mr. Poon's kinda liberal, and he kinda asks interesting legal questions on his site, and he kinda needs to be reminded: THERE ARE NO FUNNY LAWYERS, ONLY FUNNY PEOPLE WHO MADE CAREER MISTAKES.  Law, (appropriate) political opinions, humor...no way I was gonna like this!!!  This is a refreshing addition, and sweet as...Sugar, Mr. Poon!
TD Designation:  Poos

 

TD Poor Man Extra I, 3-13-03.

A little political commentary from The Poor Man, someone who I regard as THE funniest man in the blog world, and someone I am remiss in not quoting A LOT more often.

Here's a random gem:

"Editorial reading invokes the law of diminishing returns essentially instantaneously, and anyone looking for empirical evidence of this may wish to peruse this website, or the "blogosphere" generally. While doing so, one may wish to carefully sidestep the nagging question of what, exactly, is the salient difference between arguing about politics endlessly and pushing around a shopping cart and screaming at strangers about how your cat works for the CIA, because I'm afraid that confronting the honest answer to this question may be all that is required to push someone from the first group into the second. And I think that's probably enough self-awareness for one day."

And we were remiss in not mentioning his "shorter" everything post and his "the Nation vs. the National Review" [which is crazier?] post. BTW, the National Review, which seemingly advocates nuclear war to UPHOLD treaty obligations, is FAR crazier, and wins this round.

Andrew Northrup ladies and gentleman.  He'll be here all week, and thank God for it.

 

March 13, 2003, New York, NY.

Amidst a world of Bush-imposed gloom, we have some shimmers of good stuff, perhaps harbingers of more hopeful things?

First, Elizabeth Smart, in an extremely unlikely turn of events, has been found alive and safely returned to her parents in Salt Lake City.  The police were evidently correct on their "handy-man" theory, unfortunately, they did not get the right one.  Still, this is a welcome, happy ending to one family's worst nightmare.

In good news for Delma Banks, the United States Supreme Court issued a last minute (about 10 minutes before the scheduled execution) stay of execution.  The apparent ground for the stay concerned the all-white make-up of the convicting jury.  It may not bother officials in TEXAS if a potentially innocent man is put to death, but the United States Supreme Court realizes that if that were to happen, it might put some wind into the sails of capital punishment opponents.  We'll see; Texas may get to execute Delma Banks yet.

In good news for Christopher Reeve, an operation may result in his being permanently freed from the need for a respirator.  Medical science marches on, sometimes, even without stem cells or therapeutic cloning!

And in the "global chess board" department, a dozen or so U.S. Navy ships, with Tomahawk (1000 mile or so range) missiles, are about to be shifted from the Eastern Mediterranean into the Red Sea (assuming Egypt doesn't get too cutesy about letting them pass through the Suez Canal; I smell, a bigger aid package!)  Assuming the movement order is signed today or tomorrow by Rummy, the ships could be around 1000 miles from Iraqi targets by...Sunday or Monday?  Meanwhile, more UN inspections reports continue coming in...  This grand-scale game of chicken goes on; neither George W. Bush nor Saddam Hussein seems ready to veer off their current collision course.  Perhaps things will look up?

 

TD Extra III, 3-12-03, The Talking Dog Can Bite.

Now that I seem to have reviewed something like 200 blogs (203 by my count), the Unseen Editor asks the musical question, why have you only reviewed blogs you LIKE? Why not put up a review or two of some blogs you DON'T like, don't READ, or even DESPISE. Well, no time like the present... And so... We give you...

U.S.S. Clueless is the eponymous blog of Steven Den Beste of California; the eponymous part, BTW, is the "clueless", rather than the "beste", which this blog is, well, NOT. In fact, Den Beste seems to go out of his way to answer the question of what we would get if the owner of the comic book store in The Simpsons had his own blog. It would have a general Star Trek theme, and would be self-indulgent to the point of nauseating. Den Beste doesn't put up posts: he puts up daily manifestos, that require not just having the time one could have from not having a job or significant other and living in your parents' basement to WRITE them, his posts also require a similarly insane amount of time just to READ them. Worse, in substance, the political commentary ranges from "reactionary" to "Neanderthal". The blogroll is jealously guarded, short, and if one writes to Mr. Den Beste to ask to be on it, one can expect a response as lengthy, incoherent and self-indulgent as one of his posts. It is NOT a good sign that this is one of the most widely read blogs out there.
TD Designation:  Rabid dog, Euthanasia Recommended

 

TD Extra II, 3-12-03.

This week's carnival of the vanities is up at the Daily Rant here.  Your TD's entry concerns the recent suicide mass murder bombing in Haifa.

Check out the Carnival, for a sampling of the best of blogging.

 

TD Extra I, 3-12-03.

With thanks to Angry Bear, we give you...

Unlearned Hand is the work of a law student at the University of Virginia, who tells us he is committed to serving in our Army's Judge Advocate General Corps after law school.  [Learned Hand, for those of you fortunate enough not to have attended the first year of law school, was a famous judge on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals based in New York in the early part of the 20th century, who, in addition to being a brilliant jurist, had a cool name.] Despite this commitment to serve in our military  (or perhaps BECAUSE of this background, UH is a commissioned Second Lieutenant), we get sort of a "war skeptical" approach, or do we?  The political discussion is "well-reasoned" (high praise for a law student!).  The blogroll is distinctly left leaning (though he has a couple of the big righties), though the commentary is NOT AS distinctly left-leaning, maybe it is...or is it?
TD Designation:  Armant

And with thanks to Unlearned Hand, we give you:

Casus Belli is the work of Columbia University political science grad student and instructor Paul MacDonald, whose international relations specialty would doubtless have led me to him in my day at the old Alma Mater, if it were 20 years ago, and I not substantially OLDER than Paul!  A relatively short blogroll hits some of the bigger lefties.  The commentary, though as thorough as one would expect from a professional academic, is crisp and presented directly.  Though arguably "left-leaning", Paul's approach is more pragmatic (as is his apparent opposition to the coming war).  The Administration could learn a thing or two reading this guy.
TD Designation:  Scotch Collie

 

March 12, 2003, New York, NY.

Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic was assassinated in Belgrade by a sniper's bullet yesterday, in what has been described by the premier of neighboring Croatia simply as "an act of madness".  Djindjic was instrumental in handing over various Serb defendants to the international war crimes tribunal at the Hague, amidst much internal opposition.  It is unclear if that was related to his assassination (Serbia is in the midst of a crime wave these days as it is), but in a world already on edge thanks to OUR President, this just ain't good news.

Speaking of said world on edge, it is now reported that the United States gift of a UNSC fig leaf to Tony Blair appears but one vote away from passage of some kind of use of force resolution.  Well, we move steadily closer to getting this killing Saddam thing over with once and for all, so we can leave Iraq twisting in the wind while simultaneously bankrupting it (and ourselves), destabilizing the Middle East AND generating more resentment and possibly terrorism in the process.  Oh, we avenge Dubya's Dad AND make Dubya look like a "tough leader" in the swing states.  Sounds like a "win-win" to me!

The holdouts?  Apparently, they are none other than Mexico (oil producer, led by Vicente Fox, who may be a bit mad at Bush on account of reneging on some immigration proposals) and Chile (may still be mad at us for overthrowing their democratically elected government back in '73).  To secure their support, we can count on our President's "pie crust promises" [a "Mary Poppins" term for promises easily made...and easily broken].

Finally, as I alluded to earlier, Texas is set (later today) to execute Delma Banks, who would be its 300th prisoner executed since the restoration of the death penalty in 1982.  Banks' case is of interest because at least three former federal judges, including former FBI Director William Sessions, have put a friend of the court brief into the U.S. Supreme Court noting the peculiar improprieties in this case, which may very well involve the execution of an innocent man.  Much as I'd like to make light of this awful situation (Banks has been awaiting execution pretty much since 1982), this is a one-case demonstration with the problem of how capital punishment is administered in the United States.  Banks, a black man (16-year old victim Richard Wayne Whitehead was white) was convicted by an all-white jury, his own defense lawyer admitted he did virtually nothing (called no witnesses in Banks' defense, for example), the prosecution relied on the testimony of two paid informants but did not disclose this to the defense, physical evidence showed that Banks may have been three hours away from the murder scene at the time of Whitehead's death, and among the grounds for denials of Banks' appeals included filing the appeal papers in the wrong order.  Banks may very well be guilty, but do we as a society want to mete out the ultimate penalty for cases as problematic as this?  It saddens me when the likeliest answer we will receive is "don't mess with Texas".

 

TD Extra I, 3-11-03.

With thanks to Max Sawicky, we give you:

Angry Bear is the work of a real, live slightly left leaning economist. Posts are detailed, complete with charts and actual real world justification for the positions espoused. AB also trolls the blogosphere for useful opinions and interesting commentary. Despite covering technical economics, this blog is in no sense dry, but is, dare I say it, fair and balanced. The blogroll features the majors, as well as the big-time lefties.
TD Designation:  Non-Canine (Angry Bear)

 

March 11, 2003, Brooklyn, NY.

On this 18 month-mark (on a Tuesday no less) after that Tuesday in September (and Matthew Yglesias has an excellent capsule summary here of the Bush record), I find myself home sick.

I AM pleased to note the end of the Broadway theatre musicians' strike which, thankfully, only lasted a few days. Regardless of the merits of the parties' positions, right now, tourism (one of New York's most important industries) did not need this, given all the other bad stuff going on. Lest we forget, the collapse of tourism here because of terrorism fears after GW I helped send the City into a vicious recession in the early 1990's, as much as stock market malaise or high oil prices. We're all set to see it again, at least the lights will stay on on Broadway.

And as Pakistan officially announces it will abstain from the proposed US-UK sponsored UNSC resolution (this week?) over use of force in Iraq, that now forces the US (and more importantly the UK, because elected dictator Bush needn't worry about his own party turning HIM out early the way elected dictator BLAIR does) will have to go five for five among the remaining world powers (Chile, Mexico, Cameroon, Angola and Guinea) to authorize warmongering.

Well, as absurd as betting America's world position (not to mention potentially billions of dollars in international funds associated with redeveloping Iraq AFTER our naked aggression, which will not likely be available if we do NOT have UN imprimatur) on the whims of Paris, Beijing and Moscow is bad enough. To start betting on Santiago, Mexico City and Conakry somehow seems even more troubling.

Well, it does to me.

 

TD Extra II, 3-10-03.

With thanks to the Modulator, we give you...

Africa Pundit, the work of commentator Noah, who takes us to an area under-explored as a matter of policy, and especially under-explored in the blogosphere. Noah's take is a moderate/conservative one, as he likes to call brutal dictators, well, what they are! This is a thoughtful exploration of an area that gets an undeserved dearth of coverage. I do wish Noah had permanent links or resources, but the posts are well documented.
TD Designation:  African Wild Dog

 

TD Extra I, 3-10-03.

As Texas prepares to execute its 300th prisoner since 1982, take a look at this site the State maintains: a listing of prisoners' last meals.

Nice.

 

March 10, 2003, New York, NY.

When will Kim Jong Il realize that he is to be dealt with as a "regional problem" by a "multilateral process"?  Jeez, can't he go back to his cognac and hookers and Daffy Duck memorabilia?  Instead, North Korea test fires another surface to ship missile into the Sea of Japan, modestly escalating the non-tensions amidst the non-crisis, as we continue to ignore the 2/3 of the Axis of EvilTM (such as Iran, which is "speeding ahead") that are actually DEVELOPING nuclear weapons, so that we may concentrate on the 1/3 of the Axis of EvilTM whose defeat will not help the country strategically, but will help the President politically.

[For those of you who are still partisan or foolish enough to believe a word the President says about Iraq or anything else, please read Jonathan Chait's article on how the President's priority for homeland security is...tax cuts for the rich.]

American efforts led by Secretary of State Powell to garner support for another UNSC resolution authorizing American and British aggression (well, that's what this is, at this point, even if one thinks its justified), have fallen short according to the absolutely unbiased New York Times,  though The Washington Post reports that the Secretary of State is optimistic he can buy the five additional votes needed (US, UK, Spain and Bulgaria already being in the bag).  As with all Bush Administration initiatives, there's just no point in trying to guess what this will cost us.

And in other warmongering news, Turkey's PM looks to be stepping down so Mr. Erdogan (who favors allowing USA basing of troops in Turkey) may take over.  Stay tuned!!!

 

March 9, 2003, Brooklyn, NY.

At some point last night, ye olde gross hit counter crossed 30,000 hits, a milestone that comes around two months after hitting 20,000 hits. Someone, somewhere, seems to be reading this dreck. I thank you all for that, and I especially thank those who have seen fit to link in to this here site. I will continue to make your visits worth the trouble.

Speaking of "worth the trouble", I have often asserted that Texas swagger or no, the United States has no particular interest in having a UNSC war resolution go down in defeat. The Lebanon Star reports that Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa questioned Friday why the United States was still pressing for a Security Council resolution authorizing war on Iraq, even though weapons inspectors admitted to better cooperation from Baghdad on the disarmament process.

Representing the only Arab country on the 15-member Security Council, Sharaa also chastised Washington and London for ignoring the ďunprecedented phenomenon in history,Ē which saw millions of demonstrators pouring into world cities to say ďno to war.Ē

ďIraq has cooperated actively,Ē Sharaa said. The destruction of long-range missiles was ďtangible and material evidence of this cooperation can neither be considered deceptive nor insignificant,Ē he added.

Obviously, we could expect Syria to chide the United States for its UN support (and other support) of Israel, which the foreign minister does, of course, but Syria now holds a Security Council seat, and sadly, has less of an axe to grind on this potential war against its next door neighbor than our own government does. I've given up on guessing the outcome.

I will just say that even if the war goes fabulously well from a domestic political standpoint (Karl's war), some other people will remember the resentments.

 

TD Extra I, 3-8-03.

Something's Always Wrong is the manifesto of Boston area writer Jeremy Wahlman. Jeremy mixes current events (political outlook: moderate), sports, popular culture, and interesting events in a mťlange that somehow reminds me of...someone...Jeremy has a compact blogroll consisting of people he knows (such as dog run member Steve Silver) and those he doesn't (such as yours truly). I would describe it as... eclectic. Once in a while, itís nice to find someone without a particular axe to grind (except as to baseball) just giving us a well-written perspective on life, the universe and everything.
TD Designation:  Sealyham Terrier

 

March 8, 2003, Brooklyn, NY.

Saddam remains a cool customer as the end is seemingly nigh...or is it? Saddam has interpreted Hans Blix's ambiguous report of ambiguous cooperation as justification to lift sanctions against Iraq. We have to hand it to the American President: he truly IS a uniter, not a divider. He has united such disparate regimes as France, Germany, Russia, China, Syria, Canada, and when you get right down to it, just about every country in the world except the UK, Australia, Spain and Eastern Europe (as well as the probable majority of the people in these countries and the American people, as polls show only 40% would approve of a military assault on Iraq WITHOUT UN imprimatur). All are united now about ONE THING: opposing what seems to be the inevitable military assault against Iraq coming on or about St. Patrick's Day. All hail our imperious leader. Maybe this will work out.

Mahmoud Abbas has been nominated by Yasir Arafat for the new window dressing post of PA "Prime Minister". Since the stated purpose of the post is to erode Arafat's tight grip and extreme corruption, it is unclear how placing his top deputy and aide de camp in that position will accomplish that end. A vote for business as usual in the Middle East (that part) even as Hamas now threatens Israeli politicians and leadership in retaliation for knocking off one of their own. Well, everyone ELSE in Israel tends to be existentially worried, so here we go again...and lest we forget, Israeli Tourism Minister Zeevi was assassinated by Palestinian insurgents previously, so the threat may have some credibility. Oy vay s'mir.

Well, we'll see what happens in the next week or so. Recall that Bush the First hemmed, hawed, and screwed around, for months, before finally pulling the trigger on GW I. While Dubya talks the incessant cowboy crap, with each day the war doesn't start, we come one day closer to logistic impossibility (clear Iraqi skies, desert too hot for the hazmat suits) of military action. I had thought the Ides of March was the outside date for this, but the scheduled date now seems to be two days after that.

Maybe.

 

TD "Man's Inhumanity, etc." Extra, 3-7-03.

Of the 15 killed in the Haifa bus bombing, 9 were schoolchildren.  Via Imshin's Not a Fish.

There isn't much more to say.

 

TD Extra I, 3-7-03.

I try to get out...but they keep dragging me back in.  Actually, itís my distinct honor and privilege to review worthy blogs.  Although I mean to do more affirmative trolling for new blogs, in between trying to make a living, and playing my roles of husband and father, and trying to nurse my shoulder back together, and of course my "regular" Bush-bashing blogging, I am fortunate that so many great blogs have been brought to my attention by either informing me of their existence by e-mail, or by linking to me and (thereby showing up on the referrer logs).  Itís STILL official TD policy to link back (and review) any blog that links to me (and other worthy blogs brought to my attention).

And so...we give you...

Arguing With Signposts is the work of proud Texas blogger Brian Murley.  You get a dose of down home blogging here, with some posts that lean a little to the right, but in a polite, charming way.  The blog is supportive of the President, for example, which is peachy keen.  The tagline notes that Brian "would argue with a signpost", but he seems more agreeable than all that.  The small (I'll say nascent) blogroll features around a baker's dozen of the serious righties, and somehow, I'm on there (maybe the picture of the rotty on the front is reminiscent of Misha.  The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler!)  No matter.  Y'all pay a vist to Brian's blog, ya' hear?
TD Designation:  Broholmer

 

March 7, 2003, New York, NY.

As a certain commentator who writes on this site (hey, wait a minute, there's only ONE commentator on this site), oh yes...as I intimated last September, there would come a point when the United Nations inspection team would come back to the UN with an ambiguous report: no, Saddam has not come completely clean and dumped all of his bad stuff in the front yard for us to destroy and recycle, BUT....Saddam HAS greatly STEPPED UP cooperation, and if you just give me the inspections more time...  As predicted, Chief Inspector Clouseau...Blix...made exactly such a report to the UN Security Council this morning.  This was an intrinsic problem of going the UN route: if extricating Saddam Hussein REALLY IS a matter of American security, then we have just transferred the legitimacy of our self-defense from Washington to New York, or more specifically in this case, Paris, Moscow, Beijing, Berlin, Damascus, etc.

Thus, as a commentator on this site (wait, that's me again!) said recently, as noted in a Pravda article, this means now that either (1) the United States gives in to world opinion (and "international legitimacy") and stands down, at least for now, this will, of course, rightly or wrongly, be interpreted as yet another win for good old Saddam as he stands down the Great Satan, or (2) the United States (and UK and others) go balls out with military action, which will NOW appear to the rest of the world to be raw aggression, in direct DEFIANCE of the will of the international community.  Nice.  BTW, no matter what the President lets slip at a press conference, if the votes aren't there (and they don't look like they are) there will be no UNSC vote.  Proceeding in the face of a UNSC DEFEAT is truly a bad idea; best not to have the vote.

On top of which, Israel and the Palestinians are heating things up, as Israel seizes a "security zone" inside Gaza (to prevent rocket attacks) shortly after the Haifa bus bombing.  And I won't even TALK about the crazy *&^% talk coming from Kim Jong Il, even as the President dismisses that issue as a "regional matter" (i.e., North Korean missiles can't yet hit TEXAS, so itís only a "regional matter").

As I said before, there will STILL be an element of surprise no matter what the "start the war" decision (specifically, WHEN to start the war decision) is made.  We're in a tough one now: Bush has bet the ranch on this one, and will not be talked out of this (unless, of course, he gets lucky, and Saddam takes up the exile thing, something NOT HELPED by the American insistence he be tried as a war criminal or killed no matter what!).  Let's just hope Karl's instincts on what will help the President carry Midwestern swing states is correct as a matter of foreign policy.  Against hope.

 

TD "Presidential Press Conference Extra", 3-6-03.

The President gave an extremely uncomfortable press conference at the White House this evening, in which, when asked point blank, if war starts, would we consider success anything less than the capture or killing of Saddam Hussein himself, the President continued answering "our goal will be regime change, and disarmament of Iraq". He was downright pained, as he said we were in "the final stages of diplomacy" vis a vis Iraq. Well, let's just say that we both will and won't have the element of surprise!!!

All of this comes as Bush's relentless screwing around on this issue has finally come home to roost in poll numbers, as at least one poll showed that an "unnamed Democrat" might beat Bush 48% to 44%. As a commenter notes, however, itís too bad the Democrats will actually have to NAME someone to run against Bush.

 

TD "I'm a uniter not a divider" Extra, 3-6-03.

This comment string on digby's hullabaloo expresses some of the most intelligent sentiments (including my own) about what Dubya will soon be accomplishing militarily that I have seen yet.

The phrase "I am a uniter not a divider" takes on a new resonance, when we realize it is directed at Islamist extremist groups and as yet only modestly pissed off Arabs, who, watching the TV news shots of Baghdad burning under "shock and awe", will be watching a far more potent al-Qaeda recruiting film than anything Osama ever produced.  Many Islamic extremists couldn't "unite" before; thanks to our President, they will be able to achieve this dream!  He truly will show the world, he is a uniter, not a divider.  God help us all.

 

March 6, 2003, New York, NY.

As we slog through a March semi-blizzard here in the big city, and await our imperious leader's decision on when he starts the War to Avenge Papa BushTM, I just have to laugh at this story about Bill ($150,000 a speech) Clinton and Bob (me, shill for Viagra?  Pepsi? who else is paying me?) Dole signing up  to revive the "Left-Leaning Dog-Rabid Dog" -- er, "Point-Counterpoint" bit on "60 Minutes".  Why is this so funny?  Because the ONLY thing I think of when I think of these two is The Simpsons "Citizen Kang" episode where Kang and Kodos assume the identities of Clinton and Dole to ensure alien domination of mankind.  The BEST PART is when their plot is EXPOSED BEFORE THE ELECTION.  Kang (or is it Kodos?) says, too bad, you have no choice, one of us will win.  Someone in the crowd shouts out "we can vote for a third party".  The response: "go ahead, throw your vote away!".  As Homer is engaged as a slave to the alien overlords, he says "Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos."

Kind of reminds one of the fact that the American people ALREADY SAW the type of presidency we could expect from someone named George Bush, and voted for it again anyway.  Good move, eh?

A little gallows humor there as some 800 meters to my East, British and American diplomats threaten and cajole what they hope will be a "compromise" UNSC resolution authorizing the President and Dick Cheney to get their Iraqs off, this time, allowing some sort of a timetable and deadline for inspections.  Meanwhile, in a surprise to no one, China has joined the coalition of the unwilling (joining veto-holders France and Russia and revolving member Germany; Syria is also on record as opposing force against Iraq under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES), leaving, as I have noted before, only 4 votes for the Bush team (US, UK, Spain, Bulgaria), and a need for a veritable clean sweep of the "fence-sitting bastards", Angola, Pakistan, Cameroon, Guinea, Chile and Mexico.  Given the fact that some legislators stood up to Bush and said "our constituents are opposed to this and the grave damage it will do to our nation" (sadly, they were not feckless AMERICAN legislators, but were Turkish legislators, but the effect seems to be the same), the inexorable tide of American persuasion may be, well, less than inexorable.

Even as Israel launched a massive incursion in Gaza reportedly killing at least 11 Palestinians, the IDF is advising Israelis to get ready for war (meaning the Iraq war), imminently.  Do they know something the rest of us aren't being told?

 

TD Extra V, 3-5-03.

Man, I just can't stop posting today! Must be a "fear of the end of the world" kinda thing. So, on and on we go:

The ReachM High Cowboy Network Noose is the work of California's "Cowboy Khalil", who I guess we would describe as an anarchically liberal libertarian, who has sufficient life experience to tell us not to trust our government. The categorized link section is an amazing effort at classification, and is worth a look on its own. Cowboy K.'s bio includes 10-points mostly written by Dan Quayle (need I say more?). Come for the Bush bashing, stay for the blogroll.
TD Designation:  Cao de Castro Laboreiro

 

TD Extra IV, 3-5-03.

As I sit around here and wait for His Mightiness The President to make the monumental decision of whether to commence World War III based on whether (1) the anticipated casualty increase resulting from the loss of a Turkish launching point will be offset by the higher stock market numbers from getting the &^%$%ing war started already, and (2) what God tells him, I say, hey TD, let's review some more blogs! So put your hands together for:

Modulator is the work of blogger Steve, who moves us along the political scale with a tuneful skill, particularly in the left hand. The blog promises "A gathering of thoughts on life, politics, economics, culture and whatever else I find interesting". Fortunately, Steve finds interesting things interesting, and Steve's writing is also interesting. The "socio-political" blogroll features most of the big lefties and some of the wider-read members of the Dark Side.
TD Designation:  Mudi

The Hamster, which tells us it brings us the best of the progressive web, is the project of GWU freshman (that can't be right!) Eric Hananoki. Eric tells us he has written for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and other publications. The "blog" is sort of a round-up of web articles from various sources, as Eric thoroughly explores the given topic at hand. Itís sort of like Instapundit in the sense of a "round-up" of matters progressive from the blog world, but with more value added (by Eric). The link resources, including the big lefty blogs, include an amazing assortment of political and other chazurai. This is an important "one stop shop" for your progressive political needs.
TD Designation:  Non-Canine (Hamster)

Fighting with Grabes is the work of Brooklyn's own (via Boston) John-Paul Pagano, who is (I guess) employed in the computer industry and tells us he is an ex-jazz musician. The blog is John-Paul's political "working out"; he describes himself as a "recovering liberal", and if he is sincere in his posts, he is clearly at Step 11 or 12. Be it bashing Barbra (thanks to John Paul, you too can click over and see her blog!), or plain old warmongering, John-Paul gives us an energetic justification of what the people in power are doing. You go, John-Paul! Although John-Paul tells us he is a cat person...
TD Designation:  Samoyed

 

TD Extra III, 3-5-03.

Matt Drudge is reporting that "tonight's the night" his imperial mightiness our President will "decide" whether to attack Iraq.

Our understanding is that he'll fit this momentous decision in at some point between weight training and step class.

 

TD Extra II, 3-5-03.

Ezra Klein is the eponymous blog of a young lad from Orange County, California who has gone North to pursue his education at U.C. Santa Cruz.  Man, the amusement pier, the ocean, the nice weather... OK, I'm jealous.  Ezra is one of them thoughtful lefty guys, his still-evolving blogroll hits many of the big lefties (and some other notables not YET in the dog run...).  The posts are mostly reasonable diatribes against the standing order (such as...all three branches of our government; not enough bloggers are willing to go after the Supreme Court; Ezra has NO PROBLEM.)  A promising newcomer blog...we look forward to great things from the left coast!
TD Designation:  Continental Toy Spaniel (Papillon)

 

TD Extra I, 3-5-03.

Israeli blogger Gil Shterzer has more on the horrible bus attack in Haifa.  Warning: there are pictures, and they are not pretty.

 

March 5, 2003, New York, NY.

Here we go again: at least 15 are dead, 30 more wounded in a suicide bombing on a bus in Haifa, Israel Israeli blogger Imshin has more, as she recounts that the number 37 Haifa bus is one SHE used to take to school.  It's all so freaking horrible.

This is the first major suicide bombing in Israel proper for over two months.  The IDF has all but reoccupied the West Bank and Gaza, and goes on daily rampages to root out, capture or kill Hamas members.  If I'm not mistaken, Arafat is still confined to his "compound" of a damaged building and a bunch of rubble.  A Likud-led government is safely in place.  Of course, while suicide bombings or not, the Israeli economy is shot to hell, the life of the average Palestinian is probably bleaker than it has been for a while, and so...here we go again...

I have not been reticent in my criticism of the Sharon government's setting up the perfect conditions for Palestinian resentment which, sadly, takes this form.  Yes, the suicide bombing tactic is evil: innocent people just going about their lives are killed or maimed, be they soldiers in uniform, women, children, elderly, Arab and Jew alike.  Need I say it, but the people of Haifa, the home of Mayor Mitzna, sometimes called "the Red City" because of its European socialist traditions, are probably largely opposed to the Sharon government's policies.  Haifa is the one place in Israel where Arabs and Jews have good relations.  It all matters naught.

Israel can militarily crush all of its enemies combined these days, (possibly including Saddam Hussein), but it cannot stop every single Palestinian or Israeli Arab from this type of attack.  Better disguises and tactics seem to be employed each time, and there continues to be a large, motivated pool of would be suicide bombers.  Maybe Mitzna was right not to join the Sharon government.  I don't know.

What's my point?  Israel is the regional strongman (though a local pariah).  The United States is, of course, the world's strongman (on our way to pariah status).  Israel can no more COMPLETELY stop suicide bombings than the United States could ABSOLUTELY stop 9-11, embassy bombings, or attacks on our ships and military bases in the Middle East.  Military superiority gets you only so far.  Intelligence is helpful, of course, but moral superiority, and well-thought policies also matter tremendously.

Israel shouldn't be expanding its settlements, and indiscriminately killing NEIGHBORS of Hamas militants during its military incursions.  But it is, and the resentment builds...  The United States shouldn't have to be in a position to permanently base troops in the Persian Gulf to contain one particular tyrant who should have been removed "back in the day".  But we do.

It would be nice if we actually backed up our talk about "democracy", while we spit at Turkey's (for not doing what we want) or France's and Germany's (for not doing what we want) or, for that matter, at our own (dissenters from this war are un-American, if not treasonous, and are, of course, giving aid and comfort to Saddam Hussein).

Right now, Israel is JUST relying on its military superiority.  Israel can handily defeat the combined armies of the Arab world, but it can't seem to make its streets safe to get a cup of coffee or go to work for its own citizens.  The American President seems hell-bent on committing the United States to a comparable reliance on OUR military superiority to the exclusion of all else.  (For what itís worth The Jerusalem Post reports that Israeli intelligence believes the war will start Sunday, that's 9 March, BUT ONLY IF Turkey allows U.S. troops to use its bases; otherwise, look for a substantial delay in the start of military action).

Let's just hope that some bigger-picture thinking is going on about all this.

 

TD "Itís STILL Not a Crisis, Damn It" Extra II, 3-4-03.

The Agonist gives us a number of wonderfully juicy rumors about deals involving China supporting our aggression towards Iraq in the UNSC, if we in turn guarantee non-aggression towards North Korea.  Alas, these rumors seem to be repudiated even before the period is typed on the sentence!

Meanwhile, our old friend Josh Marshall gives us some perspective on the rather provocative North Korean action toward our surveillance plane over the Sea of Japan.  Recall how adept the Bush Administration was in dealing with China way back in pre-9-11-01, when one party was NOT threatening to rain nuclear death on the other, and the other party was NOT simultaneously threatening unilateral aggression against yet a third country, and most of the world STILL TRUSTED Colin Powell.  I think we got trouble right here in River City...

The easiest way out is, of course, to simply alter the rhetoric across the board, and grow the &^%$ up.  Make a deal with Hans Blix to say that Saddam is "substantially cooperating now -- well on the road to disarmament" -- and then we can pull back a few, just a few,  troops (and send them in the general direction of...North Korea).  We can then even put in resolutions to increase the inspections pace, and then with Saddam comfortably under international supervision, send a high level delegation to North Korea and make a damned deal with THOSE maniacs already.  No, it won't taste good, but then, strong medicine sometimes tastes bad.  The United States' international standing will actually be strengthened and we will regain the position as the world's most RESPONSIBLE actor.

Or, we can ignore North Korea and bomb the &^%$ out of Saddam, and kill lots of otherwise innocent Iraqis, and launch a ground offensive, which, after all is said and done (unless the Turkish participation was "essential" rather than merely "very helpful") is what we were GOING to do.

 

TD "But we made you and offer you couldn't refuse" Extra I, 3-4-03.

The Washington Post confirms what we all knew to be the case: the President has every intention of being the same type of mean-spirited and petty martinet with our ALLIES (or, perhaps, soon to be former allies) that he is, say, with lawmakers who get out of line (recall the famous freeze-out treatment of Senator Jeffords...just before he crossed the house and left the GOP!).  In this case, our envoy to Turkey is threatening to yank a $38 billion aid package, unless we get permission to base Iraq-bound troops in Turkey.

You cross me, says Don Dubya...and we threaten your aid package.  (I'm a uniter, not a divider.  We'll forget, of course, that the Constitution says that it is CONGRESS that gets to make and approve expenditures, including foreign aid, and it is CONGRESS that gets to suspend such expenditures, in its discretion.  *&^% the damned Constitution, already.)

Meanwhile, somewhere on our warships, some unfortunate junior officer is taking measurements as to which ships will make it through the Suez Canal...while another one plots a course around the Cape of Good Hope...

Good name, that.

 

March 4, 2003, New York, NY.

And NOW itís semi-official that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed has been flown to an "undisclosed location" (hint, itís not Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Dick Cheney's "undisclosed location") outside of Pakistan (with Kuwait's permission, as the subject is a Kuwaiti) for appropriate interrogation and torture.  It is believed that the likely location will be Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.  Makes as much sense as anything else, I guess.  Itís interesting, because this was (I guess) one of the 4 or 5 guys always pictured with Osama as Big Men On Qaeda, and therefore, his capture should have been a HUGE boon to the War on TerrorTM.  Instead...

We are focused on Iraq, thanks, and things are NOT going well on that front.  Turkey just dissed us (self-interested bastards!), and now even Pooty Poot isn't playing nice, as Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov tells the BBC that Russia is still considering the use of its Security Council veto, and has no intention of "abstaining".  Of course, might Russia, for the right price, vote in FAVOR of the war resolution?  Hard to say, the Bushies' diplomacy in this has been as lacking as the President's diction, and to be honest, it seems inconceivable at this moment that the USA-UK's war resolution (that doesn't even mention the use of force!) will get 9 votes in the current Security Council.  Indeed, it seems hard to see how the resolution will get much, or any, more than 4 (USA, UK, Spain, Bulgaria) -- with some clear opponents (Russia, Germany, France, China, Syria) under almost any set of circumstances; Mexico and Chile, duly dissed by the President on a great many things (and the United States on a great many more) don' t necessarily support giving the Yankee aggressors a blank check on this; Pakistan seems unlikely to go along, though who knows, and Angola, Guinea and Cameroon haven't exactly been screaming for Saddam's head either.  If getting Saddam is really important to our national security, and doing so with international imprimatur is important, than the President has put us in a pretty bad hole.

So, an interesting question, as Unqualified Offerings asks if the Administration is "nimble" enough to use the positive spin on the Khalid Shaikh Mohammed thing and parlay it to some face-saving vis a vis backing down from the Iraq showdown thing, seeing as we have been royally &^%$ed by Turkey in our war planning.  Answer: we can hope.

We'll try not to let that all of that get us down, of course.  Smiles!

 

TD "There's a Reason He's Best In Show" Extra, 3-3-03.

For a thorough dismemberment of the work of Kenneth Pollack, whose book The Threatening Storm is often cited by "liberal hawks" (as opposed to plain old, ordinary hawks) as a "realistic" justification for our (coming?) unilateral, unprovoked invasion of a rapidly-disarming-under- international-supervision Iraq, we give you this rather compelling analysis from our friends at Unqualified Offerings.  Ostensibly, the "intellectual rigor" of Mr. Pollack's analysis appears to be a tad lacking, very comparable to the Bush Administration's "case for war".  Pollack's theory that "Saddam cannot be deterred" (and hence, must be removed) comes from a meticulous analysis of numerous past incidents...where Saddam was...deterred.  Further, key suppositions are based on believing a pair of defectors (one must believe BOTH), even though one insists the other is a complete and total liar.

On the other hand, if nothing but lies and innuendos ARE good enough to commit this country to war just because the President feels like having one...

For anyone who supports the coming war even a little, go read Unqualified Offerings.  As for the rest of you, go read Unqualified Offerings.

 

March 3, 2003, New York, NY.

Itís been a few days since we heard about you know where (that's TWO places, now). So...in overnight clashes in the Gaza strip targeted at Hamas elements between IDF forces and Palestinians, at least eight were killed. And over in North Korea, the word of the day is that North Korean missiles are its sovereign right. Two countries that the President can ignore, because neither impacts (immediately) on (1) invading Iraq or (2) tax cuts for the rich. Oh well: at least there's ONE country where our proposed actions against Saddam Hussein seem to have overwhelming support (Israel). Still wish the Prez had thought a bit before putting North Korea in that "Axis of EvilTM" and calling Kim Jong Il a pygmy if he wasn't gonna back it up with some Texas whup-ass, but hey, you can't focus on too many things (like...4 or more).

And so, as quiet discussion concerns whether Turkey will resubmit a resolution to authorize basing of US troops in Turkey, amidst massive opposition to same in Turkey (NOT because itís a Muslim country, but because Gulf War I sent hundreds of thousands of refugees into Turkey, and devastated its economy, in part, by killing its heavy trade with Iraq, AND because promised aid from Papa Bush somehow forgot to get there), itís time to accentuate the positive: the capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in Pakistan, now in U.S. custody in an undisclosed country (that country almost certainly being...Pakistan). Sorry folks, but al-Qaeda has been in a defensive "on the run" posture for over a year; its leadership may be out there, but on the lam. Other than unabated Saudi assistance, al-Qaeda has been widely disrupted. Yes, this is a helpful capture, but Osama is FAR more important, and we ain't got him. Bush loyalists proudly note that we can fight the War on TerrorTM AND the War to Avenge Papa BushTM at the SAME TIME. Really? You think? With our nearly 1,000,000-in-uniform armed forces, when our deployment in Afghanistan is in the 20,000 range?

Again, some rhetorical "issues" I have. Rather than note that Iraq's destruction of (an admittedly small part of) its Al Samoud II arsenal should be a "good first step, now let's see if Iraq is serious about REAL disarmament, because if it isn't, we're prepared to back it up with force"Öinstead, itís just part of "Iraq's campaign of deception and lies". Excuse me, Sir, but part of YOUR JOB is to SELL the rightness of OUR actions. When the "United States" begins to adopt the features of YOUR small, mean-spirited, petty, insulated, uninterested and hypocritical personality, that's NOT GOOD, and the rest of the world doesn't like it.

L'etat ain't you Sir. Its about time everybody stopped pretending it was. I think we can break 17 minutes today if we kick it.

 

TD Extra II, 3-2-03.

The Peking Duck is the delicious main course served by ex-pat blogger Richard, almost live from Beijing. Richard more or less DOES NOT go into extensive criticism of the PRC government, or even commentary on its actions; he doesn't seem to do that at all, actually. He lets us in on some details of his life (like myself, he is undergoing physical therapy on a shoulder, though in his case, in Chinese hospitals!), or his (I guess information technology-related) work, or other interesting details. In particular, itís not Richard's moderately progressive politics that jump out, but his important chronicling of the locals' opinion of this country in the capital city of another country (one that happens to have, oh 20-25% of the world's people, among other things). Great stuff, and you don't have to order it in advance.
TD Designation:  Non-Canine (Peking Duck)

 

TD Extra I, 3-2-03.

Sisyphus Shrugged is the blogging tour de force of a Queens, New York blogger. Julia pulls no punches about her progressive politics and outlook; she blames this on being a lifelong New Yorker. Details of Julia's personal life, as she totes her daughter around Queens, for example, work their way in (blogging is, after all, a personal statement, a "web log"); in lieu of a blogroll, Julia has a unique me-zine featuring a number of the best pieces from well over a dozen great progressive bloggers.
TD Designation:  Pit Bull Terrier/Labrador Mix

 

March 2, 2003, Brooklyn, NY.

In a "diplomatic bombshell" from the Arab League summit meeting in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates "suggested" that Saddam Hussein and his main homies leave Iraq in exchange for immunity from proseuction, and assure future democracy and freedom in that nation by turning over control of the country to the United Nations and the Arab League. Iraq seems less than enthusiastic about this. Meanwhile, Syria suggests that Arab states deny American and British access to their bases; this seems a little late, as over 200,000 troops are ALREADY in the Gulf. While interesting, the Arab League is generally internally contentious, and we see nothing different here. The beat of the war drums goes on... Even as...

Iraq continues to destroy its Al Samoud II missiles pursuant to UN directives, apparently to the SATISFACTION of the UN inspectors, and Turkish lawmakers consider whether to just have a "do-over" and resubmit the resolution authorizing U.S. troops to be based in Turkey to parliament. Damned democracy.

Also in the "do-over" department, I will just START OVER in my comments on new dog run member Balloon Juice, based on the rather interesting comments of Professor Cole, both conveyed to me and posted on his site. Simply put, our "I'm a uniter not a divider" President has ostensibly been so polarizing that even reasonable old me has taken to using one's stance on the coming "War to Avenge Papa BushTM" as a surrogate for just about EVERYTHING political. That's obviously a mistake, and I should know better. It does have a HIGH correlation, but hardly a PERFECT one. As such, we'll take a drop on Balloon Juice and hit back toward the green with one penalty stroke:

Balloon Juice is the work of Morgantown, West Virginia's John Cole, who tells us he is a college professor (Communications Arts at the U. of W.V.) making him our second known West Virginian. John wishes me to note that he considers himself more moderate than the views expressed on his site, which appear to be stridently pro-war, and appear to be more in synch with the "anti-idiotarian" (that's not a word!) crowd than someone who tells us he opposes capital punishment, opposes making abortions illegal, supports gay rights, and opposes the War on DrugsTM. The weather-storm themed blogroll lists to starboard, but then has some good port ballast at the end. Still, John keeps up on the latest revolving memes, and will keep y'all amused. Up, up and away...
TD Designation:  Jack Russell Terrier (a cute, frisky dog that bites occasionally!)

[We'll also be discontinuing the use of the red "conservative" designation; I'm starting to get as confused with it as I am with the homeland security condition colors!]

 

TD Extra V, 3-1-03.

And more fun from Pravda to the effect that the President is either an incompetent or a liar. Query:  why he can't be both?

While the opinion of Moscow-based journalists is not, and should not be, dispositive of American actions, it is worth considering just exactly what the price of squandering international goodwill is. I think so, anyway.

 

TD "Kind and Cross Investigator" Extra, 3-1-03.

How many times do I say it, but in the mainstream media, I think Pravda continues to be one of the few mainstream media outlets ANYWHERE that just tells it like it is. In this piece, Pravda tells us that the Bush Administration is using Secretaries Rumsfeld (undiplomatic) and Powell (relatively diplomatic) in a game of "kind and cross investigators" -- I love it! Good cop-bad cop probably doesn't translate that well.

It seems to make as much sense as anything, but there seems to be a SEVERE price internationally if Colin Powell is proved ultimately to lack credibility. A price I fear the Bush Administration will merrily pay if it comes to it.

 

TD Extra III, 3-1-03.

A hearty welcome to Public Nuisance, California based blogger Alex Frantz's one man random walk through the blogosphere. Not so random:  Alex incorporates pictures, charts, facts, figures and biting commentary (with a powerful left leaning blogroll), as he goes on a tour-de-force of right-thinking (meaning left-thinking), not merely addressing, but attacking, the issues of the day.
TD Designation:  Alopekis/Border Collie Mix

 

TD "Turkish Daffy?" Extra, 3-1-03.

With thanks to the Agonist, we learn that the Turkish parliament fell four votes short of the simple majority needed to approve of a massive U.S.A. troop deployment on Turkish soil to serve as a second front against Iraq, according to the AP, and Yahoo!. This comes at the same time that the UN announces that Iraq is actually starting to destroy the Al Samoud 2 missiles it has been directed to destroy.

As is its custom when being dealt a smackdown in the "War to Avenge Papa BushTM", the Administration must, MUST, announce something positive in the Warn on TerrorTM, and hence, we simultaneously learn of the arrest in Pakistan of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, one of the alleged masterminds of the 9-11 attacks. This way, the easily confused American public can think that the "good guys" are still winning (even as two very serious setback to invading Iraq have just occurred, coming shortly after Russia announcing it would veto the current UNSC resolution proposed by the USA and UK, and Tony Blair faces continued internal party troubles).

Well, at least all of this happened on a Saturday. Now the Bush people will have all night to figure out how to spin this for tomorrow morning's talk shows.

 

TD Extra I, 3-1-03.

And so March madness rolls on... Put your hands together for...

Balloon Juice is the work of Morgantown, West Virginia's John Cole, who tells us he is a college professor (presumably poli. sci. at the U.) making him our second known West Virginian. Although John wishes me to note that he considers himself more moderate than the views expressed on his site (which are amusingly hard-ass conservative, as reflected on his weather-storm themed blogroll, which lists to starboard, but then has some good port ballast at the end), we report, you decide! Still, John keeps up on the latest revolving memes, and will keep y'all amused.
TD Designation:  Jack Russell Terrier (a cute, frisky dog that bites occasionally!)

Inn of the Last Home comes to us from Tennessee blogger Barry (Tennessee, the superpower of the blog world, probably because Al Gore invented the Internet). Barry gives us a healthy link section to the Rocky Top Brigade (other Tennessee bloggers) and a few others, mostly righties...and me! The commentary bounces around from matters Tennessee (and Knoxville) to matters national and matters war and peace, and though the perspective is indistinguishably right wing, though in a down-home style that makes it all a little less unpalatable.
TD Designation:  Mountain View Cur

Painpill is the work of blogger Paul Goyette, who is a graduate student in public policy based at the University of Chicago (who writes operas as well). Thought-provoking discussions of the issues of the day, an extensive media list and a blogroll that includes, well, me (and the main lefties).
TD Designation:  Perdigueiro Portugueso
(We are retiring the counterfactual link).

Now go back to bed y'all. Rest up for March madness!

 

March 1, 2003, Brooklyn, NY.

Welcome to March.

Getting March madness right under way, we give you the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the entire 24-judge court's refusal to reconsider the earlier decision of its 3 judge panel, finding merit in a case filed by Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow alleging that his 9-year-old daughter was harmed by the requirement that she recite, or watch others recite, a Pledge of Allegiance containing the words "under God" (as added by Congress in 1954) and finding the inclusion of those words in the mandatory recitations of students in a public school to be unconstitutional.

Well, you know what? As I once said, this is the legally correct decision; we are obliged to be officially "religiously neutral" -- that is to say, operationally atheistic -- in public life.

But this time, itís not just the right decision, I think itís also for the RIGHT REASON. Now the blowhards that run our country, most relevantly our attorney general, John Ashcroft and presumably the entire feckless Congress, must now take some hot air away from warmongering, jingoism, and terrorizing immigrants, to devote to the "horrors" of a federal appeals court actually upholding the Constitution in a way that THEY don't like. You know what? We got through WWII and Korea with the pledge WITHOUT the words "under God".  Do you know what? Itís a wonderful sentiment; the pledge was originally written by a Presbyterian minister WITHOUT the words under God, and it works just beautifully in its ORIGINAL FORM: 'I pledge allegiance to the Flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.'

This may be a brilliantly calculated and timed move by the court to stave off the war just a little longer. Bush's head may quite literally explode, having to hold SO MANY things in his head at one time: the 5K time he's shooting for, invading Iraq as Blix calls for more inspections, more tax cuts for the rich, AND NOW THIS!!!

Oh, I forgot, he's a uniter not a divider. 

 

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