A Level Gaze

"What effect must it have on a nation if it learns no foreign languages? Probably much the same as that which a total withdrawal from society has upon an individual."
--G.C. Lichtenberg


New Email Address! levelgaze@gmail.com



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Friday, September 27, 2002
Instapundit's True Colors Revealed
Affinity for Bush Policies Explained

I think that the anti-death-penalty crowd (like the anti-war crowd) made a serious mistake by lapsing into moral posturing on this issue and thus destroying its credibility. The notion that it's per se immoral for the state to kill peple is absurd -- or at least, proves too much, as killing people is the core function of nation-states, and always has been. Government power is based ultimately on violence; all else is superstructure.
emphasis mine

Whoa. As for myself, I can think of nothing more intrinsically moral than the issue of whether and why a person should be killed.

Brothers in Arms

Chris Floyd points out some similarities between our president and his nemesis arising from the administration's newly minted National Security Strategy.

Tellingly, Bush's list of basic freedoms contains no right of privacy, no inviolability of person, no right to information about government actions, no right of redress for wrongs inflicted by the powerful, nor a host of other freedoms once considered essential to the liberty of an independent citizen.

No, what we have here is simply a candy-coated model for a militarized world, a fanatical ideology enforced by the ever-looming threat of punishment and death.

What we have here is bin Laden writ large.

Tim Dunlop at The Road to Surfdom goes to town on the Bush administration's truth-handling ability.

What really gets up my nose, though, is the fact that what generally happens is that there is no good faith, we are spoken to as if we were idiots or children, and that we are strung along on partial and unsubstantiated information that changes as the needs of the government in question changes. In other words, we are routinely lied to and the business of government is not about doing the right thing for the country or the world (as is always piously claimed) but in managing information for maximum political advantage.

Thursday, September 26, 2002
Hey everybody! It finally happened! Dr. Weevil has responded to my open letter! He says it was "serious" and "relatively coherent!" I'm legit now, baby!

I think he missed the point.

In the Shropshire Challenge, he called upon those opposed to the war to go to Iraq as human shields against the US armed forces. If they didn't, they should "shut the hell up about chickenhawks." He did not feel that an equivalent level of commitment to his side was appropriate. I replied that he and the rest of the warbloggers are the ones advocating change, and, if anyone were to "put up," they should. Then I called him a hypocrite. He responds:

This is more than a bit misleading. The status quo is highly unlikely to continue. Everyone knows that a U.S. invasion of Iraq is very likely, and that it will come soon, unless something happens to stop it. Non-invasion may be the status quo, but invasion is the default. That means that I don't have to do anything to bring about an invasion, since it will go ahead with or without me. (Not to mention that I can't do anything but argue, since I'm too old to enlist and, even if I weren't, I wouldn't make it through boot camp and specialized training in time to see action.) But anyone who seriously opposes an invasion of Iraq can and should do something to prevent it while there is still time. 'Level Gaze' has it exactly backwards: I don't have to do anything except argue against objections such as his. He on the other hand needs to do some serious work if he wants to stop the war, and sitting around bitching about it isn't going to suffice.

Got that? It's going to happen anyway, so it magically becomes the "default," which is somehow different from the "status quo." Leaving that to one side, it could make one question the reasoning behind Dr. Weevil's (and the rest of the warbloggers') need to argue in favor of invasion. If it's inevitible, cheering it on won't help. Even the need to "argue against objections such as [mine]" dissolves. It's also nice to know that Dr. Weevil believes that our government cannot be swayed by means short of direct physical intervention. I and others who are against the war are "do[ing] some serious work...to stop the war."

Besides, the last I heard, we're still waiting on United Nations and congressional approval for invasion, which seems to indicate that the question is still up in the air. For all of the administration's bluster, we may yet be deterred. I and a lot of other people throughout the world believe it's possible, otherwise our speaking out against invasion would be equally pointless. He wants an invasion and I don't.

But the main point is that those of us against the war, including Phillip Shropshire, aren't obligated to put their lives on the line because of our opinions. Honestly, stopping the war in Iraq isn't worth my life,however many other lives it may wind up costing. If it is your opinion that standing up for what you believe in--or even stating your beliefs--requires putting your life on the line, then it applies to everybody, not just to those with whom you disagree. And them what starts a fight has to go first, as a show of good faith. Shropshire was supposed to put himself in the line of fire, but, sadly, Dr. Weevil is too old to enlist, and shouldn't have to because war is inevitible anyway. That's as far as he got with the argument, and that's why I called him a hypocrite.

The rest of the response is taken up with: his belief that invasion will do more good than leaving things as they are (I disagree--what happens when Israel gets into the slog, that'll be good for everybody, right?); his interesting hypothesis that I would have opposed the Normandy invasion (which, I believe, was one of many results of unprovoked aggression, and therefore righteous); about his nephew-who-almost-enlisted-in-the-Marines (whatever); a non-argument to the effect that the armed forces are not only (I had said "mostly") comprised of people from the lower classes and minorities (they are, very disproportionately, especially the infantry); that Iraq poses a threat to us (sure, if Saddam is willing to have his country flattened for him); that Iraq intends harm to its neighbors as can be deduced from its actions toward Iran, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia (the war with Iran we actively encouraged and suppported, the war with Kuwait we pretended to green-light (see April Glaspie), and Saudi Arabia is a non-issue); a confusion of Iraq with Afghanistan (which, although in some ways is better off than it had been under the Taliban, has seen a return of the rule of warlords and looks about ripe for a re-descent into civil war); that "war is necessary" because Hussein is a "psychopathic thug" who has "good reason" to hate the US (hmm...a psychopath with good reason...will he use it? Will we be removing the rest of the thugs of the world? Does Musharraf count?); that I "have a seriously exaggerated idea of the importance of the Blogosphere" because I put him in the same sentence with the Bush administration (I'm addressing you, who agree with the administration. I want you both to do the same thing. Why on earth wouldn't I put you in the same sentence? Cheap (and inaccurate) shot); more arguments that I should be willing to die a traitor because I am against a proposed policy of the administration (let's all go stand in the way of a tank to protest the tax hike!); that none of the chickenhawks have threatened to punish any human shields (they have indeed; they're called Iraqi citizens, and Saddam will be using tens of thousands of them); and how many celebrities will fit on the head of a cruise missle (all of them).

Note the absence of a response to my argument.

In the process, he describes my post with nice words like "pretentious," "fifth-rate," "absurd," and "bilge." He tells me I need to "shut the fuck up about chickenhawks" because I'm not willing to go stand in the middle of a war zone. Shut the fuck up or die. A beautiful sentiment from one American to another. And I should apologize. To whom? I think I'll do neither, thank you.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002
P.L.A. knocks the crud off the usual discourse, and makes an excellent point about the Bush administration's decision-making process, with plenty of examples.

It is a fundamental axiom of decision-making that one’s decisions are only as good as the information on which they are based. Bad information, or simply an absence of information, leads to bad decisions. The acquisition and assessment of information is the sine qua non of decision-making.

One of the reasons that we have little confidence in President Bush’s decision-making with regard to almost any issue is that he exhibits a complete lack of respect for the collection or assessment of information prior to making his decision.

Reminds me of the one immortal Bush quote: "Who cares what you think?"
via Ted Barlow

Michael Kelly, thy name is WHORE.

Gore uttered his first big lie in the second paragraph of the speech when he informed the audience that his main concern was with "those who attacked us on Sept. 11, and who have thus far gotten away with it." Who have thus far gotten away with it. The government of Gore's country has led a coalition of nations in war against al Qaeda, "those who attacked us on Sept. 11"; has destroyed al Qaeda's central organization and much of its physical assets; has destroyed the Taliban, which had made Afghanistan a state home for al Qaeda; has bombed the forces of al Qaeda from one end of Afghanistan to the other; has killed at least hundreds of terrorists and their allies; and has imprisoned hundreds more and is hunting down the rest around the world. All this while Gore, apparently, slept.

Well, perhaps Gore was talking loosely. No. He made clear in the next sentence this was a considered indictment: "The vast majority of those who sponsored, planned and implemented the coldblooded murder of more than 3,000 Americans are still at large, still neither located nor apprehended, much less punished and neutralized." If there is a more reprehensible piece of bloody-shirt-waving in American political history than this attempt by a man on the sidelines to position himself as the hero of 3,000 unavenged dead, I am not aware of it.

And, again, this sentence is a lie. The men who "implemented" the "coldblooded murder of more than 3,000 Americans" are not at large. They are dead; they died in the act of murder, on Sept. 11. Gore can look this up. In truth, the "vast majority" of the men who "sponsored" and "planned" the crime are dead also, or in prison, or on the run. The inmates at Guantanamo Bay, and the hunted survivors of Tora Bora, and the terrorist cell members arrested nearly every week, and the thousands of incarcerated or fugitive Taliban, might disagree as to whether they have been located, apprehended, punished or neutralized.

Ok, Mike, riddle me these:

How many people are/were in Al Qaeda? What are their names? Did we get them all? What percentage of them did we get? Are you sure it was "a vast majority?" Do you have any proof? I seem to recall reports of large numbers of them fleeing to Pakistan. Did we get them? Did we get every cell in Germany? In Italy? In Belgium? In Egypt? In Algeria? In Saudi Arabia? In Central Asia? In Indonesia? In the Phillipines?

In saying they didn't get away with it, are you saying that we no longer have anything to fear from them? You're sure there won't be any more attacks? Would you bet the lives of your children on that? How about the lives of everyone else's children?

Although Gore knows that Bush is also seeking, as Democrats also demanded, United Nations approval, he pretended this represented a failure of leadership as well because "thus far, we have not been successful in getting it." True enough -- because the Security Council hasn't voted. Thus far. Cute.

The approval of the UN is different than the approval of the Security Council. You do know that, don't you? Also, are you agreeing that failure to get UN approval before invading Iraq represents a failure of leadership? If so, then Gore's right on the money. With the exception of Britain, every other country in the world that has spoken on the issue--including Kuwait--has come out against a US invasion. Does it look likely they'll vote with us? Do you think Bush's "we're gonna do it, so you better be with us or else" approach has the ring of great leadership? Doesn't seem like it to me.

If you want to talk about "bloody-shirt-waving," maybe you could look to the words of our glorious President on the subject in the weeks and months after the attacks.

By the way, "on the run" means the same thing as "at large." You can look it up.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Ann Salisbury directs our attention to a place where military action could be justified and do some good.

BOUAKE, Ivory Coast -- More than 100 American and other foreign children were trapped in this rebel-held central city Sunday as government forces tried to retake northern areas seized by renegade soldiers last week.

The children, ranging from infants to 12-year-olds, attend a boarding school in the city. They are the sons and daughters of missionaries working across West Africa.

It's tempting to imagine the scene at Chickenhawk Central:

POWELL: Mr. President, I believe we could get those children out of the country and safely back to the US in 48 hours.

ROVE: Hang on a minute, Colin. We can stretch it out over a week and give CNN and Fox a ride over. We'll pick up 15% in the polls and kill the democrats in November.

BUSH: Do they have oil?

CHENEY: For the last time, Junior, no, they don't have oil. Good idea, Karl, but it's better for us, long term, if those kids go down in flames. Show the pansies on the coasts that shit happens, and we'd better be ready...

RUMSFELD: ...proactive, even.

CHENEY: 'Proactive.' Exactly.

PERLE: I agree with Dick, Mr. President. The obvious need for intervention in this situation will only make the Iraq invasion look unnecessary by comparison.

I'm imagining a future in which Gore has defeated Bush in 2004. It is now 2008. Dubya has done literally nothing since handing over the White House. Now he is put forward to reclaim his throne. He "writes" articles and gives speeches and raises money.

Would anybody take him seriously?

I think he benefits from the trappings of office. I think if he were just some guy with a history of disard for public opinion saying the same kind of things he says now, he'd look like an idiot. Without his buildings-full of bureaucrats to burnish his BS, he'd go 'clunk' a lot more often. He'd look like an impotent figurehead.

And there would still be people voting for him!

Monday, September 23, 2002
Ampersand has a very insightful post up entitled "Anyone who doesn't fund Israel is an anti-Semite" (permalinks n/a), in which is elucidated the revolutionary idea that it's possible to be and work against Israel's policies without being anti-Semitic.

Saturday, September 21, 2002
Government is the source and arbiter of all legitimacy

I haven't been blogging much lately. I've felt discouraged. In addition to the remarkable community of bloggers on the left that makes my words too often seem like a weak, hollow 'me-too' echo, I also have been feeling that we're making no headway whatsoever. Sure, once in a great while, MWO slightly bends media coverage (in a tiny paragraph, say, somewhere around page 17 of the Washington Post). But that's about it.

Paul Krugman, arguably the most effective and erudite critic of the Bush Administration, has had no meaningful impact whatsoever. This is not an indictment of either him or his writing. However, all he has managed to accomplish outside the ranks of the already converted is to bring calumny upon himself. A very well-respected economist, writing in the nation's paper of record, who gets everything right, has accomplished nothing of substance. So what chance do I have?

Here's what happened when he wrote that Bush's tax cut was a bad idea: He laid out a number of incontrovertible reasons why the tax cut is bad medicine for the economy, and for the country as a whole. Moderates and centists ignored him completely. A large number of voices on the right vilified him personally. A smaller number of voices on the right said something to the effect of 'No it isn't!' A still-smaller number of voices on the left (who had virtually no chance of getting a wider hearing beyond themselves) applauded the arguments and Krugman's intelligence and honesty. In the furthest, most obscure reaches of political debate (blogdom, et al.), the issue of Krugman's veracity was more or less rationally debated. And that's it. In the face of a clearly enunciated, rationally consistent refutation of its assertions, the government was obliged to do exactly nothing.

Anywhere else, the obligation would have been much greater. Imagine a squad of soldiers in unfriendly territory. The sergeant has been ordered to follow a particular road en route to the squad's objective. A soldier on recon comes back to the unit and reports that an enemy ambush has been set up on the road and suggests an alternate path. Should the sergeant a) plow ahead on the planned route; b) radio to his superiors, inform them of the ambush and request reinforcements or alternate orders; c) proceed along the alternate path; or d) cautiously move forward and verify the presence of the ambush.

In this situation, any sane person would choose b or d, or c at the very least. No one in his or her right mind would ignore the warning and take the previously determined route. If the unit were decimated by the ambush as a result, the sergeant would be court-marshalled, and all the world would put the blood of his unit on his hands.

There is widespread agreement that the government had the responsibility to take credible threats of terrorism into account in its actions prior to last September's attacks. There is widespread agreement that it is essential that we improve our performance in that respect as soon as possible, and that doing so requires an examination of what went wrong in and prior to 2001. By the same logic, it had the same responsibility to take Krugman's (who is nothing if not credible) warnings into account before pushing for its mammoth tax cut. It has the same obligation with regard to Iraq; we must fully examine the risks, potential gains, potential expenses, and complications of invasion and its aftermath before acting.

In each of these cases, the Bush administration has shirked its duty. Only yesterday, more than a year after we were attacked, did it drop its opposition to a congressional investigation of intelligence failures prior to 9/11. Before the 2000 election, Bush and his backers assured the public that the then-anticipated surplus justified their proposed tax cut (which at the time was even larger than the one that was passed). After the surplus vanished, they argued that the cut would stimulate the economy enough to restore surpluses. Neither argument addressed Krugman's (credible) objection, namely that it would seriously compromise the health of the economy for years to come, and exacerbate the growth of the divide between rich and poor. On Iraq, the administration continues to push forward, heedless of any caution or objection, failing even to address them even as thousands of innocent lives are placed at risk by its actions.

The problem here is that the government of a country is the ultimate source and arbiter of legitimacy. That is, after self-defense, its primary obligation. A free society cannot function when it fails to discharge this duty in good faith. Until the government pronounces on an issue, it has not been settled; every disagreement is merely a situation of he said/she said. Disputes are only ever truly and finally settled by a court. The words of an individual, a company, a university or foundation are merely that, words, until they are upheld or denied by one or more arms of the government.

When a government's legitimacy is broken, the incentive to work for the public good is removed and replaced by the incentive to maximize one's own well-being at the expense of others. Trust in the government's even-handedness is dissolved, as protections and advantages given to some are denied to others. Respect for the rule of law is destroyed, as there is no indication that it will be applied fairly or evenly. People become either helpless victims of governmental tyranny or toadying sycophants of power. This is the situation on the ground in hundreds of countries around the world, and we are well on the way to joining them.

Bush's recent move to repopulate HHS scientific review committees overwhelmingly with those who agree with his policies (and who, therefore, are willing to ignore scientific data in favor of political considerations) is one of the best and clearest examples of the administration's abdication of its obligations as arbiter of legitimacy. It alone has the force to enforce its viewpoint via the law. It has all but announced its intention to impose its will by fiat, regardless of the potentiaal damage caused to the well-being of the people. Truth itself cannot stand in the face of a government unwilling to acknowledge it.

Our republic was set up with the good of its citizens in mind, and its government was therefore constructed to be accountable to them to provide for the public good. Democracy was chosen as the best means to assure the long-term continuity of this accountability. But democracy is not infallible.

In order to work properly, democracy requires:

1) Government's absolute obligation to truth, and full disclosure of same.

2) Enforcement of sanctions against those who contravene the public good.

3) Good-faith efforts to advance the good of the greatest number in both the short- and long-term.

4) Equality before the law as interpreted and enforced.
--Of individuals, both native and foreign
--Of various corporations and industries
--Of regions, races, sexes, and religions
--Of rich and poor, especially with regard to their respective treatment in the court system.

5) Courts that uphold the Constitution and the historical precedents deriving therefrom.

6) Transparency in its workings, in the interest of both accountability and evolution in response to changing conditions.

7) Rewards for good service other and greater than re-election (e.g., the public must respect and esteem public servants who succeed in their mandate).

8) A voting public capable of discerning the above.

With the exception of #7, the Bush administration has worked actively to undermine each of the factors listed above.

Instead of respecting truth, the administration has mischaracterized the effects of its tax cut, its committment to the environment, and the state of the economy (especially with regard to the deficit). In speaking about Iraq, it has made pronouncements in the absence of corroborating evidence, and, in some cases, in opposition to existing evidence.

Instead of enforcing sanctions against those damaging the public good, the administration has moved to limit corporate liability for workplace injuries, to relax penalties for mendacious accountants and lawyers, to limit punishment for polluters, and to limit damages awarded to those injured by corporate negligence and malfeasance.

Instead of working for the general good, the administration has reduced subsidies for home heating for the poor, effectively denied health care to veterans, and taken the side of energy companies against Californians. Adding injury to injury, it is using the money saved to preferentially reduce taxes on the wealthy and to build a useless missile-defense system.

Instead of equally applying the law to all, the administration has incarcerated foreign nationals indefinitely without charging or trying them or allowing them access to counsel. The administration has constructed its energy policy with the interests of oil and energy, and not those of the general public, in mind. The administration has repeatedly favored the interests of corporations over those of the people who work for them.

Instead of supporting the constitutionality of the court system, the administration has time and again put forward for appointment individuals with histories of disregarding precedent in favor of advancing their ideologies.

Instead of working transparently, the administration has resisted a public inquiry into pre-9/11 intelligence failures, has broken the law by hiding from public scrutiny the presidential records of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, has directed its agencies to ignore the Freedom of Information Act, and has refused repeated court orders to make public its energy policy deliberations.

Instead of accepting the judgment of the public, the administration has worked to actively obfuscate issues, arguing first one way, then another. When the public responds unfavorably to its proposed actions, it changes tack, always repeating its objective until enough of the country wearily acquiesces. It has characterized abrogations of civil liberties as promoting freedom. It has used faulty logic and grossly inaccurate mathematics to confuse voters on issues of great national importance.

While these executive branch actions and initiatives have worked against governmental legitimacy and democratic oversight, the opposition and the press are equally at fault for allowing it to happen. Their obligation to governmental legitimacy is equal to the president's, and their failure to honor it is equally destructive.

Richard Nixon was forced to resign by a legislative opposition and skeptical press that would not acquiesce to his inaccurate version of the truth. Bill Clinton directed the appointment of special prosecutors against himself to determine the truth of charges (which now seem petty, and of which he was innocent), because the press and the opposition demanded it.

Without such demands for true legitimacy and a refusal to accept this administration's hopelessly inadequate substitute, we will turn from self-determining free people into subjects of the will of a cabal.

Thursday, September 19, 2002
I just did it. It feels great. You should too.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002
Science? We don't need no steenking science!

The Bush administration has begun a broad restructuring of the scientific advisory committees that guide federal policy in areas such as patients' rights and public health, eliminating some committees that were coming to conclusions at odds with the president's views and in other cases replacing members with handpicked choices.

In the past few weeks, the Department of Health and Human Services has retired two expert committees before their work was complete. One had recommended that the Food and Drug Administration expand its regulation of the increasingly lucrative genetic testing industry, which has so far been free of such oversight. The other committee, which was rethinking federal protections for human research subjects, had drawn the ire of administration supporters on the religious right, according to government sources.

A third committee, which had been assessing the effects of environmental chemicals on human health, has been told that nearly all of its members will be replaced -- in several instances by people with links to the industries that make those chemicals. One new member is a California scientist who helped defend Pacific Gas and Electric Co. against the real-life Erin Brockovich.


"It's always a matter of qualifications first and foremost," [HHS spokesman William] Pierce said. "There's no quotas on any of this stuff. There's no litmus test of any kind."

At least one nationally renowned academic, who was recently called by an administration official to talk about serving on an HHS advisory committee, disagreed with that assessment. To the candidate's surprise, the official asked for the professor's views on embryo cell research, cloning and physician-assisted suicide. After that, the candidate said, the interviewer told the candidate that the position would have to go to someone else because the candidate's views did not match those of the administration.

Asked to reconcile that experience with his previous assurance, Pierce said of the interview questions: "Those are not litmus tests."

From now on, if scientists have any information relating to government policies, they'll have two choices. Either go to 'First Amendment Zones,' or write their recommendations on the back of a check to the RNC.

Friday, September 13, 2002
Bush 'Highly Doubtful' Iraq Will Meet Demands to Disarm

Man, that didn't take long.

"I can't imagine an elected United States-elected [sic] member of the United States Senate or House of Representatives saying, `I think I'm going to wait for the United Nations to make a decision,' " he told reporters.

"If I were running for office, I'm not sure how I would explain to the American people and said, you know, `Vote for me, and oh, by the way, on a matter of national security, I think I'm going to wait for somebody else to act.' "

Just one day, one day, after delivering a speech that for the first time began to address some of the concerns of other countries in the UN, Bush comes out and demonstrates that he doesn't even understand the idea of international cooperation.

As Bush is given credit for his startlingly coherent speech before the UN General Assembly, I'd like to pose this question: If the 9/11 attacks hadn't happened, what would the world make of our talk of "regime change" in Iraq? Would we be talking about it at all?

All available evidence indicates that Iraq had nothing to do with Al Qaeda's attack upon us. It looks, though, like Al Qaeda has a lot to do with our impending attack upon Iraq.

Thursday, September 12, 2002
Chrétien denies suggesting U.S. arrogance fuelled attacks

This article discusses the reaction to a July interview that was aired on Wednesday.

In an interview that aired last night on CBC-TV, the Prime Minister for the first time suggested the strikes against New York and Washington stemmed from a growing international anger at the way the United States flexes its muscle around the globe.

"You cannot exercise your powers to the point of humiliation for the others. That is what the Western world -- not only the Americans, the Western world -- has to realize. Because they are human beings too. There are long-term consequences," Mr. Chrétien said in the pre-taped interview.

"And I do think that the Western world is getting too rich in relation to the poor world and necessarily will be looked upon as being arrogant and self-satisfied, greedy and with no limits. The 11th of September is an occasion for me to realize it even more."

Chrétien's main political opponent, Opposition Leader Stephen Harper, characterized Chrétien's statements as "blaming the victim" and "shameful."

Ok, first, does anybody dispute that the conduct of the U.S. government toward the rest of the world, especially under GWB, has been arrogant? Anyone? Did we ever act towards other countries and their citizens out of anything other than our own interests? Does anybody think that the the rest of the world, especially the poor, would have been more disposed in favor of the U.S. if we had been less arrogant? If we had been (gasp!) sympathetic to their plight, would they hate us as much? It's one thing to see a big, rich, well-dressed guy on the street, but when he looks down his nose at you and growls that you'd best get out his way or be kicked, it's another.

Does anybody think it's a good idea to be arrogant? If so, how do we benefit from it?

Does anybody really think it's a coincidence that so many people in so many different parts of the world have come to the same conclusion about us? If not, then why to they say such things? Do conservatives think it's a plot to...uh...hurt our feelings? Is it really so far-fetched that we might not be the best judges of how we're perceived by the citizens of other countries? If they do think we're arrogant, does it make them more or less likely to attack us?

Sorry, they're all no-brainers.

via Instapundit

Damn, Chris Nelson is good.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002
I live in New York. In 1995, I worked on the 74th floor of WTC Tower #2 for six months. Like everyone else in the country and much of the world, I was stunned, shocked, shaken and angered by the events of a year ago today. All but the last of these emotions have faded by now.

I'm still angry.

Regular readers know I'm generally anti-war. I have been all my life. I always made one exception, though. I'd pick up a gun and jump right in if someone attacked the U.S. Nobody takes a shot at my country and gets away with it. The one glimmer of respect I ever had for George W. Bush came when I watched his first speech after the attacks. We were going to get those sons of bitches. We were going to hunt them down and kill them, and I couldn't have agreed more. God help me, I cheered the bastard with tears in my eyes.

But we didn't do it. One unequivocally justified course of action presented itself after 9/11, and we didn't take it. We toppled the Taliban, dropped some bombs from a safe distance, and let nearly all the Al Qaeda escape.

As we bend all of our energy and attention to effecting "regime change" in Iraq, somewhere there are people who got away with planning, staging, financing, and facilitating the attacks. Bin Laden 'isn't a priority' for us anymore. 'Maybe he's dead,' they say. We hear endless variations on the threat Iraq supposedly poses to America and its interests, and nothing about those who've already attacked us, and who have vowed to do so again. We've even seen fit to squelch any meaningful investigation of the circumstances that allowed the attack to succeed. In short, we've done next to nothing to bring the perpetrators to justice or to protect ourselves from further attacks.

It's a disgrace.

I can't wait to see Sully's latest imbecility demolished by the capable minds on the left. I just don't have the energy today. But I will point out one howler to get things started.

Why would the conflict between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East, bubbling for millennia, automatically be required one day to end?

The conflict between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East, Andy, has been bubbling in anything approaching its current form since the 1880's, tops. Compared to any other two very different groups in such proximity to one another, Jews and Arabs have historically gotten along better than anyone else. The conflict has to do only with the state of Israel in Palestine. Get your facts right before you start twisting them.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002
U.S. Not Claiming Iraqi Link To Terror

Although administration officials say they are still trying to develop a strong case tying Hussein to global terrorism, the CIA has yet to find convincing evidence despite having combed its files and redoubled its efforts to collect and analyze information related to Iraq, according to senior intelligence officials and outside experts with knowledge of discussions within the U.S. government.

Most specifically, analysts who have scrutinized photographs, communications intercepts and information from foreign informants have concluded they cannot validate two prominent allegations made by high-ranking administration officials: links between Hussein and al Qaeda members who have taken refuge in northern Iraq and an April 2001 meeting in Prague between Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence agent.


"At some point we will certainly make the case concerning Iraq and its links to terrorism," a senior administration official said yesterday. "We still have to develop it more."

Asked about this story, an imaginary White House staffer had this to say: "This is not, I repeat, not to say that we're just making this shit up. We have secret evidence even we don't know about yet, and it proves Iraq was on the same continent as Al-Qaeda. We know they were up to something."

It's a good thing we're all terminally stupid, or this would look bad for the Bush administration.

Sunday, September 08, 2002
Man, I hate coincidences. Another blogger shows up in my referral logs (by coming here via his referral logs). Not half an hour later, he posts on the same subject as my last entry, making many of the same points, and all of the main ones. This being a coincidence, I'm not sore that there's no link or mention of ALG, just disappointed in fate.

Update: All's well that ends well. It's nice to see guys who can hit so hard in possession of so much class. Additionally, I should apologize for the (however veiled) imputation of 'cribbing.' Anyone who's spent the briefest span of time on his blog knows he has no need of such help.

Saturday, September 07, 2002
Reading Instapundit this afternoon, I came across Dr. Weevil's Shropshire Challenge.

What follows is an open letter to Dr. Weevil.

Dr. Weevil;

It seems as though you're the one who needs to "put up or shut up." Those of us who oppose invading Iraq haven't suggested doing anything - we'd like to see the status quo continue. This is your fight. You have to put up first. We don't owe you anything until you do, and we certainly won't "shut up" about chickenhawks.

You're the ones (you and the rest of the warbloggers) championing a course of action that will cause death and destruction to others, as well as serious jeopardy to American soldiers (who, incidentally, are mostly drawn from the ranks of the poor and minorities, those who are least able to determine the course of their lives), and none to yourself or to those whom you love. If you so truly believe in the justice of your cause, then it's worth the cost and you should be willing to pay your share. Sign up for service and join the infantry. Not eligible for service? Send your son, your brother, your nephew, your best friend, your dog. If you aren't willing to put up, why should we right-thinking folk take you seriously?

We're not the ones trying to convince the world that the inevitible deaths of innocent women and children, en route to removing Saddam Hussein from power, are necessary. We're not the ones who are providing inaccurate and/or incomplete justifications for doing so, to wit: that Iraq poses a threat to us (no proof so far); that Iraq supports terrorism (ditto); that Iraq intends harm to its neighbors (one more time); and that the Middle East would be better off after he's gone (not even the seeds of an inkling, see Afghanistan).

The administration is pushing this war with all of its might. It has access to reams and reams of intelligence costing billions of dollars. As yet, it has not seen fit to offer the world any substantiated rationale for an Iraq invasion. You don't have access to any of the government's putative secret "evidence" of the "threat" posed by Iraq. Absent proof, or even a consistent message from your leaders, you pound the drums of war. For what? Why? Because you like the sound?

We ask the administration (and you) to reconsider, to wait for proof to be provided of the threat(s), and, when it's provided, to solicit assistance from other nations to help us clean up the inevitible mess that will follow an invasion. You tell us to take a hike and stand in the path of our own army. Not only would we be slaughtered, but we would die as traitors. Obviously, that would be a stupid move, and you think yourselves pretty damned clever to paint us into that corner. And still you'd have risked nothing yourselves. Nice try.

You, sir, are a hypocrite.

Good day.

Friday, September 06, 2002
In Michael Kinsley's latest column, he takes Colin Powell to task for the "disloyalty" of having a different opinion than that of the president. A little further down, he claims that "Bush's role in the debate is not to have a clear view of his own." So Powell disagrees with...well, we're not sure yet, but it's definitely something, er, probably.

Further, the "squabbling tribal elders," presumably Cheney, Rumsfeld, Scowcroft, Baker, et al., get a free pass from taking stands fundamentally different from one another. By definition, then, some of them are going to be in disagreement with whatever Bush's opinion might wind up being. For some reason, that's not disloyalty, even when done in the public fora of the nation's op-ed pages. Powell, dastard that he is, has added to the injury of his "disloyalty" with the further insult of inscrutability.

Powell's view, if you read the papers literally, has spread by a mysterious process akin to osmosis. The secretary of state is "known to believe" or is pigeonholed by unnamed "associates" or (my favorite) has made his opinion known "quietly."

To recap: Powell is disloyal because he has not disagreed publicly with the president, whose opinion is unknown. GOP tribal elders, on the other hand, are dutifully performing yeoman's service to the nation through their mutually irreconcilable op-ed pieces.

Powell is Secretary of State, the country's head diplomat. It's his job to make our relations with the rest of the world run as smoothly as possible. If it means 'speaking diplomatically,' (duh!) or not pounding one's fist on the table every time one opens one's mouth, if it means respecting other countries' sensibilities, then Powell is handling the situation perfectly. He is expected to keep in contact with other governments and to relay their communications to the president and congress. He's presumed to be the government's expert on foreign countries. His opinion on issues relating to them is supposed to matter. He's supposed to have one and to give the rest of the government the benefit of it. That's his job. If it weren't, we could dispense with having a State Department at all.

Kinsley closes with:

The Bush administration will decide in the next few weeks that the cause is worth the blood, or that it isn't. In either case, shouldn't someone resign?

My riposte: if Bush decides not to invade, should Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, and the rest of the hawks resign?

Thursday, September 05, 2002
Come and join Chris Floyd on a wonderful trip down memory lane.

Sure, Glenn, just keep telling yourself that it was Karl Rove's idea.

I'm sure he wanted the world to hear these juicy tidbits:

Formerly admired almost universally as the preeminent champion of human rights, our country has become the foremost target of respected international organizations concerned about these basic principles of democratic life. We have ignored or condoned abuses in nations that support our anti-terrorism effort, while detaining American citizens as "enemy combatants," incarcerating them secretly and indefinitely without their being charged with any crime or having the right to legal counsel.


As has been emphasized vigorously by foreign allies and by responsible leaders of former administrations and incumbent officeholders, there is no current danger to the United States from Baghdad. In the face of intense monitoring and overwhelming American military superiority, any belligerent move by Hussein against a neighbor, even the smallest nuclear test (necessary before weapons construction), a tangible threat to use a weapon of mass destruction, or sharing this technology with terrorist organizations would be suicidal. But it is quite possible that such weapons would be used against Israel or our forces in response to an American attack.

Uh...and, Glenn, defined narrowly, Carter has an "abject record of humiliating failure in dealing with middle-eastern rogue states," if by "rogue states" you mean "Iran," and if by "abject record of humiliating failure" you mean "two helicopter crashes." You may remember that it was Carter who got Israel's bitter enemy Egypt to sign a peace treaty that holds to this day. He actually tried to do something there and got results. Rove & Co. have presided over a situation in Israel that grows bloodier by the day, and have done precisely nothing about it.

Carter's got more integrity in his toenail clippings than the entire Bush administration.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002
Light blogging for a bit. Hope to get rolling again soon.

Monday, September 02, 2002
I know it won't do much, but I'd like to add my feeble voice to the basso profundo of Kos, and decry the diseased duplicity of a government that works to deny benefits to veterans while attempting to fund and enfranchise churches.