Sine Qua Non Pundit

And what is good, Phaedrus, And what is not good -- Need we ask anyone to tell us these things? ------ ------ ------ ------ E-mail: charlesaustin@earthlink.net

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Saturday, September 28, 2002
 

The Day Before

After this, the half-life of Saddam's regime is about 10 days.



Thursday, September 26, 2002
 

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. LV

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

It’s bad enough that the Washington Post prints Richard Cohen twice a week. Today he was immediately preceded by Jeremy Rifkin, explaining that the age of fossil fuels is over. Let me summarize:

Blah blah blah World Summit on Sustainable Development blah blah. Blah blah blah renewable resources blah blah blah. Blah blah blah renewable energy technologies blah. Blah blah blah renewable energy blah blah blah blah.

How utterly predictable. But speaking of predictions (not that Jeremy Rifkin has shown much talent here in the past):

The Cassandras say that peak production is likely to occur as early as the end of this decade, but probably no later than 2020.

Cassandras, meaning that they are right. Right? Well, when I was in high school 25 years ago, we had a student teacher who assured our chemistry class that the world was going to run out of oil in 10 years! It was a proven fact! Yawn. Jeremy recommends living every day as though it is the earth’s last, since one day he’s sure to be right!

Oh, and of course the good guys are the “superpower” EU:

The European Union is now in position to become the first superpower to make the long-term shift out of carbon-based fuels and into a hydrogen era. A change in energy regimes of this magnitude over the course of the next half-century is likely to have as profound an effect on society as coal and steam power did.

Or not.

At some point, the United States must rethink its own energy future. The last time this country was awakened from its somnolence was in 1957, when the Russians sent their first satellite into space. Caught by surprise, we mobilized every corner of American society to the task of catching up and surpassing the Russians. Maybe it's time for another jolt.

I guess Jeremy has been in a cave since last September 11. How wrong do you have to be, time after time, to not get published by the Washington Post? Well, since Richard Cohen has been a regular columnist since 1976, we may never know.

But I digress.

As you may have noticed, one of the features of the Scourge is that I have an extremely short span of attention. I generally just start at the top and roll through it once, displaying a peripatetic attention deficit disorder from sentence to sentence; catching the most egregious spelling errors and occasionally noting something at the end that had first come up earlier. But I don’t usually reread it before publishing. That’s just the way it is. You want perfection, go read somebody who gets paid for writing. Anyway, the way I am now, I doubt that I could reread the whole thing if I wanted to. But I did warn you earlier today.

But I digress.

Where was I? Oh yea, Richard Cohen. Hmm. Three weeks ago, when discussing the terrorists and those that support them, Richard wrote:

“Kill them. Kill them all.”

Pretty strong stuff. Two weeks ago, when lamenting the murder of so many worthy fireman, Richard wrote:

... neither religion nor political blather has yet softened my anger or lifted my sadness...

Still resolute, but more sanguine and thoughtful. One week ago, when noting that time is not on our side, Richard wrote:

I wanted something more than "regime change." I wanted Hussein's head.

Almost an honorary warblogger. Then earlier this week, Richard wrote:

I am with President Bush most of the way on Iraq.

Look’s like he’s starting to hedge his bets a bit. But then today, Richard gets his Gore on War:

Bully for Al Gore!

Well, alpha male Al can certainly play the bully.

Speaking in San Francisco the other day, the president of most of the people -- he won the popular vote, remember -- ventured where few prominent Democrats have dared and criticized President Bush's approach to a war with Iraq.

Ah, the 2000 selection – the gift that keeps on giving to the hopelessly illiberal. But, president of most of the people? Shouldn’t this be roundly criticized the way some Republicans were when they spoke of Bill Clinton as "your" President? Is Richard proposing that Al Gore move to Avignon by the Bay and set up a rival presidency?

Almost instantly, of course, Gore was excoriated for playing politics with such a serious matter and, worse -- much, much worse -- complicating his party's strategy for the midterm elections.

I thought Tom Daschle was complaining about President George W. Bush, not Al Gore, when he whined about playing politics with such a serious matter. Or was it for complicating his party’s strategy for the midterm elections. It’s getting hard for Tom to keep the bad guys straight these days. But if Al gets criticized by the left and the right, then Richard must think this means centrist Al must be doing something right. Or left. Which would be right. But not in the center.

One of the first responses to Gore's speech came from Jim Dyke, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. "It seems to be a speech that was more appropriate for a political hack than a presidential candidate," he said, calling the kettle black.

How dare these politicians act like politicians? Or maybe Mr. Dyke is right.

This, though, was the very same Republican National Committee that was told back in January to use the war on terrorism as a way for the GOP to win back the Senate and retain control of the House. The speaker was Karl Rove, Bush's chief political adviser.

How dare the Republicans use something where they have a demonstrable advantage over Democrats? The focus needs to be on only those issues that the Democrats have a “natural” advantage.

"We can go to the country on this issue because they trust the Republican Party to do a better job of protecting and strengthening America's military might and thereby protecting America," Rove advised his partisan audience.

Seems reasonable to me, even if the audience wasn’t partisan. Is Richard implying that an idea is now good or bad, not because of who said it, but because of who heard it? Richard's logic gets wierder by the column.

For some reason, I cannot find any record of Dyke's criticizing that remark, but I shall, as always, persevere.

Maybe because no such record exists. And I, too, shall persevere.

As for the Democrats,

As Dan Rather said in a similar situation, “Courage!”

… many of them are so afraid of being labeled appeasers that they want to quickly give the president the war resolution he wants -- so they can then turn to the weak economy as a campaign issue.

So, it’s ok for the appeasers to hide their true nature to play politics with a serious matter like the economy?

Many of these Democrats happen to share Gore's misgivings, but, to put matters in their crassest terms, they seem quite willing to sacrifice the odd 19-year-old soldier for the odd congressional seat.

But we should vote for the spineless hypocrites anyway, right Dick?

From the reaction to Gore's speech, you would have thought he had advocated unilateral disarmament followed by an aid package for Iraq.

Um, isn’t that kind of close to what he implied?

On the contrary, he advocated "taking on Saddam Hussein in a timely fashion," but only after the United States had built an "international coalition" to do so.

Like I wrote, isn’t that kind of close to what he implied?

He also said that Washington ought to first finish the job against Osama bin Laden and ensure that Afghanistan does not once again become a Club Med for terrorists.

Club Med for terrorists in Afghanistan? No, that would be Guantanamo.

These are some of the same points made by three retired four-star generals who testified that same day before Congress. The three -- John M. Shalikashvili, Wesley K. Clark and Joseph P. Hoar -- warned the Bush administration against going it alone on Iraq and said that war there could detract from the campaign against terrorism.

I don’t have the stamina to chase this down, but I’ll assume that Richard has misread their intent. And war with Iraq is part of the War on Terrorism, not an orthogonal adjunct to it.

These three are not generally considered to be in the peace wing of the Democratic Party.

Does this imply there's a war wing -- or better yet, a freedom wing -- of the Democratic Party? And that caucus would be who exactly, other than perhaps Senator Zell Miller?

For that matter, neither is Gore.

I’m not sure that Gore is particularly welcome in any wing of the Democrat Party these days. When’s the last time you saw a photo op of AL with any prominent Democrat?

He was one of only eight Senate Democrats to vote for the Persian Gulf War -- and, just for the record, he served in Vietnam.

Vietnam? Again? Take me now Lord.

He knows a bit more about war than some of the drumbeaters who want not only to knock out Hussein (I'm for that) …

And the evidence for this is ...?

… but also to virtually annex the Middle East. (What are these people talking about?)

New Texas? No just kidding. I think maybe they are talking about bringing peace, freedom, democracy, and something a little better than the pre-medieval civilization that has kept the people of the Middle East down for so long.

War is a serious matter…

Damn. And up to know I had thought it was just another way to spend the weekend and generate new material for the History Channel.

… and it ought to be debated seriously.

But, unfortunately, all we get is Richard Cohen.

But it is not.

Is to!

All across the landscape, charges of "appeasement" fill the air. The accusers range from Fox News's Sean Hannity … to the editorial pages of more than a few newspapers. Almost always, Hussein is likened to Hitler…

I don't have access to Nexis or Lexis, but I'm gonna guess that President George W. Bush has been compared to Hitler more often than Saddam Hussein in the last week.

… Munich is mentioned and sometimes the Holocaust as well. The question, though, is not whether to give Hussein the Middle Eastern version of the Sudetenland but how -- and when -- to render him impotent or, better yet, gone.

Like I wrote on Scourge LIV, neuter him, then kill him.

The means, not the ends, are in doubt.

So, now the means justify the ends?

You may not agree with everything Gore said.

May not? Hello! This is, after all, Scourge LV.

But he raised some legitimate concerns. After all, the Bush administration has promoted this war with something less than a punctilious regard for fact or, for that matter, tact.

Huh? Ohmigod! The President must have violated the Brussel's Convention on tact. The enduring shame.

It implied a nonexistent connection between al Qaeda and Hussein.

Actually, they've been quite explicit about it, not that it mattered. I guess Richard still can’t be bothered to read the Washington Post articles on this.

It suggested the imminence of an Iraqi nuclear capability that's hardly imminent.

Scott Ritter said so! Richard apparently wants to wait until the threat of nuclear weapons from Iraq is truly imminent.

It barged ahead unilaterally…

I guess Richard hasn’t noticed everyone who’s started to line up behind the US.

… pausing at the United Nations only after being forced to do so…

Forced? By who?

… and it shredded international law and precedent by asserting it can do whatever it wants in the name of self-defense.

Better than shredding the US Constitution to satisfy the petty tyrants of the UN in the name of Transnational Progressivism.

This is not a doctrine; it's an impulse.

Go get a nice adult beverage, let the dog out and come back. This is going to take a while. Oh never mind. I got another adult beverage and I’m not going to waste any more time on Dick.

So, bully for Gore. He has raised some important issues.

Well, that’s debatable.

This is the solemn obligation of the opposition party and its de facto leader.

Somebody better tell the de jure leaders – Tom, Dick, and Terry – that the de facto leader is loose.

And the solemn obligation of the president and his supporters is not to shout appeasement but to provide some answers.

Personally, I’d rather they keep on doing their business as they best see fit instead of trying to respond to Weird Al and his half-baked whine (With Cheese!). I thought that Al’s speech was baseless, but Matt Drudge thought Al’s base was speechless. Jeez, even his biggest fans have lost respect for him.

We're waiting.

We? Not me Kemosabe. I’m off to bed.



 

Der Drei Doppelgängers

Won’t be enough to save him.



 

I'm Taking Bluto's Advice

The four or five of you that have been reading this blog since February may remember that way back then I mentioned losing a lot of sleep, doing a lot of commuting, and generally sacrificing my summer to work very hard on a proposal.

Today it paid off. And many members of my staff have a job for many years forward.

Tonight's Scourge might be interesting since I haven't tried to compose one before with three sheets to the wind. When I look back in the future, I may have no recollection of tomorrow in my past.

Oh, this was Bluto's advice.



 

From a False Premise, Anything Is Deducible

I'll have on Bab's letter later, maybe, but has anyone else noted yet that NOBODY BOMBED THE WTC! At least not since 1993.



 

Thank God We Are Not A Serious People

Right, Mr. Peretz?



Wednesday, September 25, 2002
 

Knox, Knox, Who's There?

Hmm, I wonder if the Professor or South Knox Bubba know about this yet?

An Ohio man filed a $1.5 million lawsuit Tuesday against the Knoxville Marriott hotel after finding a hidden camera in a bathroom light fixture in July. Bryan Brewer discovered the small video camera after noticing a tiny black spot - which he thought was an insect but turned out to be a hole - in the fixture, according to the lawsuit.

[...snip...]

According to the lawsuit, Brewer, 27, discovered the camera on the morning of July 11. "Thinking it might be an insect, Mr. Brewer swatted at the black spot, thereby inadvertently breaking the plastic cover on the light fixture," Herston wrote in the lawsuit. "He called the front desk, apologized and offered to pay for the fixture." But while he was waiting for someone to fix the damage, Brewer noticed wires and discovered a small video camera. A further look by security personnel confirmed that it was an elaborate, self-contained, video recording system. "The video camera was connected to the bathroom light switch such that the camera would begin recording when the bathroom light was turned on and would stop recording when (it) was turned off," the lawsuit states. Herston said that the equipment had a film of dust on it indicating that it had been there for some time. It also had a piece of tape on it indicating the room number, Room 253. Herston said that Marriott employees let Brewer view the tape in their presence but refused to give it to him.


I wonder if they went down to Room 253 to view the tape. I wonder what color the door on Room 253 is. And I wonder how many more tapes there are.



 

Bugger All!

Blogspot seems to have eaten the last two Scourges!

They are still available in the archives.

DOWNDATE: They're back. For now.



 

Cockney Rhyming Slang

Apples. Short for apples and pairs. Means stairs.

Ruby. Short for Ruby Murray. Means curry, or more generally Indian food. Having my English friends tell me to meet them at Ruby's got me lost in Eton once.

Porky pies means lies. Now, does "Perle before swine" make any more sense, or seem too clever by half?



 

Vorlons?

Wasn't he a defenseman in Detroit back in the 1930's?

Great. Martin discloses the name of my Puckhog fantasy hockey team. Now everybody in St. Louis and Chicago can be pissed at me.



 

Oh, Canada!

The phrase "Only in America" doesn't have the same ooomph it used to have.



 

Retiring Claude?

I don't think Fritz Schrank has enough Claude's to cover Tom Daschles' sorry display.

Tom, Dick, and Terry must be getting some pretty depressing internal polling data.



 

This Is Good News

French Troops Evacuate Americans in Ivory Coast:

French troops escorted American students and adults to safety at the start of an evacuation of foreigners trapped in Ivory Coast's battle-torn city of Bouake by an army uprising in which hundreds of people have died.

Three cheers for the brave French troops that rescued 200 of our citizens:

"We thank God that the French came for us," said Sam Parham, an American living in Benin who was picking up his two sons at the school when the uprising began Thursday last week.

When they have rescued another 59,551,027 of our citizens -- twice -- we'll call it even. Aw hell, I'll settle for once, and give them full credit for their support in our Revolutionary War meriting our full support in WW I. But until then, there is a very deep well of goodwill that they have yet to adequately replenish.



Tuesday, September 24, 2002
 

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. LIV

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

Per Godwin’s Law, Richard is on shaky rhetorical ground before we can get past the title. Note that Richard never does defend the President here or condemn the alleged comparison between President George W. Bush and Hitler. It’s just a starting point for Richard to shake the tambourines of peace – at the expense of our safety and freedom. I cannot allow the mephistological import of Richard’s thesis to go unchallenged in Hitler and Bad History:

The breach between Germany and the United States has produced an odd but possibly illuminating rewriting of history. I am referring not to the stupid remark of the German justice minister in which she purportedly likened President Bush's tactics to those of Hitler…

So where’s the condemnation of the slanderous silky pursed quips of that sow’s fear?

… but to the response that came from national security adviser Condoleezza Rice: How could any German say such a thing after all the United States had done to liberate Germany from Hitler?

Hmm, is this the first volley in the character assassination of Condoleezza Rice as the DNC and its minions realize the threat she is for them in 2008?

The problem is that Germany was not liberated. Instead, Germans fought on behalf of a criminal regime until the bitter end. They fought even after defeat was certain. They fought after U.S. troops had crossed into Germany from the west and Soviet troops from the east. They ceased fighting only after Hitler killed himself. Then and only then was Germany "liberated."

Richard is more correct than usual here, but it’s still only part of the story. It isn’t fair to say that all Germans were guilty and complicit, but most were, even if they did not have full and complete knowledge of every horror committed by the Nazi’s. The population as a whole was more than willing to enjoy the collective spoils of war, so they must bear the collective guilt of its aftermath. The soldiers of the Wehrmacht fought harder and longer against the Soviets because they knew that surrender to the Soviets was not a good option. Given what had happened to Russia, this was understandable – not acceptable, but understandable. Surrenders by the Wehrmacht were much more common to forces coming from the west than from the east. There was a difference at the end, no matter how much Richard wants to believe we were all the same.

Rice made her remark to the Financial Times, a British newspaper. She understandably expressed dismay at what the German justice minister, Herta Daeubler-Gmelin, had said, because it truly was in rotten taste. Even that opportunistic critic of U.S. policy, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, felt obliged to write Bush a letter of apology, and yesterday he accepted Daeubler-Gmelin's resignation.

Again, Richard is semi-right. Chancellor Schroeder exploited the latent anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism for his benefit at our expense. It isn't just below the surface anymore, so it's no good to say this is just a fringe element. Frau Daeubler-Gmelin is merely a sacrificial, uh…, lamb. I'm sure she'll land on somebody's feet somewhere. And I believe Ari Fleischer described the letter as an explanation more than an apology. This behavior is unacceptable – even if it had been an apology.

But Rice went on: "How can you use the name of Hitler and the name of the president of the United States in the same sentence? Particularly, how can a German [say such a thing], given the devotion of the U.S. in the liberation of Germany from Hitler?"

Good question.

Coming from a student of history, this is bad history. It happens to coincide with what the Communist East German government once held: Hitler was imposed on the German people.

Hitler was not imposed on the German people. He was elected! At first. But it doesn’t change what I believe Ms. Rice was trying to get at, which is that the German people were freed from the yoke of the Nazi’s whether they sought it directly or not. Compare Germany in 1946 to Afghanistan in 2002. I think the analogy is fairly apt. Not many Afghans were looking to have their country invaded last October, but I doubt there are many that want to restore the Taliban now.

This is why the Communist East, as opposed to the democratic West, paid no reparations to Holocaust survivors.

Uh-huh. That and the fact that they were monsters in and of their own right. Oh, and they didn’t have any money either.

What happened, the Communists contended, wasn't the fault of Germans.

A single remark does not a doctrine make, and it's possible Rice merely misspoke. But I cannot overlook how much Saddam Hussein is being likened to Hitler (and Bush to Churchill) and how some influential people are arguing, in essence, that the United States will not be making war on Iraq, it will be liberating it.

I’m sorry. Who is comparing Saddam Hussein to Bush and Churchill? And we will in fact be liberating a lot of people from Saddam’s tyrannical regime.

The personification of that thinking is the defense intellectual and Pentagon adviser Richard Perle: "If I had to guess, I would predict that Hussein ultimately would be destroyed by his own forces, whose loyalty he has good reason to question."

Amen, brother.

From Perle's mouth to God's ear.

If I have to choose between this and Richard’s porky pies, I’ll always choose Perle before swine.

But my Washington Post colleague Rajiv Chandrasekaran, completing almost two weeks of reporting in Iraq, finds that Hussein is significantly more popular now than he was at the end of the Persian Gulf War.

So four people like him now?

But clearly things have changed. Saddam Hussein, once a secular fellow, has transformed himself into a deeply religious Muslim.

Uh huh. And this matters because …?

He has built mosques. He is the region's foremost anti-Zionist.

Richard writes this like it’s a good thing.

This transformation may be patently self-serving, but Stalin did something similar in World War II and, presto, went from tyrant to "Uncle Joe."

Only to fellow travelers, Dick.

What worked for Stalin may be working for Hussein. He has allowed unprecedented, although limited, access to the Internet and to Western videos.

Especially in those areas controlled by US and UK forces.

He doesn't even jam Radio Sawa, a U.S.-funded station that transmits from Kuwait. These steps do not a Jeffersonian democracy make, but they do suggest Hussein is less afraid of his own people than some people in Washington assert or believe.

I think the people of Iraq are substantially more afraid of Saddam than he is of them.

Other observers have made the same point. The idea that Hussein's army will desert may be little more than wishful thinking.

Concur, to a point.

If it is that -- if Iraqis fight in the cities or wage guerrilla war -- then the United States is going to be in for a long, hard slog.

Or we blast away in a manner that protects the lives of our soldiers at the expense of the lives of those threatened by the abuse of the Geneva conventions by Iraq’s forces. Gee, I can hardly wait for the ICC trials to begin.

In the end, after all, it was the army that saved Hussein's neck. It put down rebellions the United States had encouraged Iraqis to launch.

And all the hostages were freed! Or maybe they weren’t.

In World War II the Germans kept fighting even after Russian troops had entered Berlin.

In many cases, desperately hoping to surrender to American forces rather than face death in a Siberian work camp, which is what happened to about 90% of the Germans captured by the Soviets.

In the waning days of the war, Japan sacrificed more than 4,000 pilots and planes in horrific kamikaze attacks, fighting against all logic until the United States dropped two atomic bombs. In Vietnam, enemy forces fought with tenacity and bravery. They, too, were fighting for a dictatorship.

Is there a point here? That we shouldn’t have conquered Japan and Germany because they fought hard? Or does Richard realize that we may have to be just as brutal and ruthless now as we were 60 years ago to defeat this enemy, but he can’t quite bear to say so.

I am with President Bush most of the way on Iraq.

Oh?

If inspections are thwarted, if Hussein plays his old games, then America has no choice but to hit him.

Consider yourself thwarted and gamed, Dick.

But we should not think that the war will be easy.

War is never easy. No one who is serious and has any knowledge of history thinks it is, no matter how much people like Richard want to paint us as bloodthirsty demons.

It may not be, and in that case Iraq will have to be "liberated" the usual way -- by a bitter war and a protracted occupation.

So be it. But as Macbeth said, “If it were done, when 'tis done, 'twere well it were done quickly.”



 

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. LIII

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

Grrrrrrrrrr. President George W. Bush has noted repeatedly that time is not on our side, for a lot of reasons. Richard Cohen acknowledges this and then lays out his plan for giving Saddam more time. Grrrrrrrrr. Richard is incorrigible in Cooling as the Clock Ticks:

The true enemy of the Bush administration's war wing (Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc.) is not at the moment Saddam Hussein but time itself.

Time is the enemy of us all, not just those who have grave responsibilities that merit more respect than a casually dismissive crack like this.

The further we get from Sept 11, 2001 -- the more the clock ticks and passions cool -- the harder it gets to make a case for war.

My passion is unabated, as indeed is the passion of many. So, as time passes and the average casualty rate in the war on terrorism drops to about 10 per day, Richard is willing to let bygones be bygones. Is this the acceptable level of violence Richard Cohen can live with? But is Richard talking about the War on Terrorism or just the potential war with Iraq? I certainly hope Richard hasn’t decided the War on Terrorism is over. But if he is talking about war with Iraq, Richard still deliberately misses the point. Iraq is a threat that must be neutralized whether 9/11 happened or not. Had 9/11 not happened, it would only have been a matter of time before Iraq did something on a wholly unimaginable scale.

Speaking just for myself, time has taken a toll. I may just settle for peace.

Yes, Richard is speaking for himself. I will settle for nothing less than freedom.

My conclusions are still tentative –

Isn't this an oxymoron?

… there is much we still don't know –

There is much we will never know. But we must deal with the information we have and make the best of it.

… and I am stuck in neutral.

Too easy. Make up your own comment.

But the urgency I once felt for attacking Iraq has somewhat dissipated. After all, it was based not just on a hatred of that beast Saddam Hussein but on the assumption that he was somehow linked to last year's terrorist attacks.

And even if Iraq isn’t connected to 9/11, Saddam’s gotta go. Is there anyone on earth less deserving of another breath?

I wanted something more than "regime change." I wanted Hussein's head.

For all intents and purposes, those two are synonymous.

But there appears to be no link between Hussein and the terrorist attacks.

That’s not the point. Never has been. But Saddam may very well use these groups to do some new terrible thing, and we cannot in good conscience allow that to happen.

"Proof" of it exists only in the writings of certain conservative commentators who hankered for a war against Hussein even before Sept. 11.

Some people were paying attention before 9/11. And Richard is confusing opinions and facts, but what else is new?

But at the CIA and the State Department, that purported justification has largely been abandoned. It has no basis.

It has no basis you will accept. I believe the Czech’s have not backed down, and last time I heard the White House believed them. But all of this is about an alleged meeting between Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence agent. There may very well be other evidence that Richard is not aware of.

Many Americans have not yet caught on.

Stupid Americans, eh Dick?

A poll done by the Gallup organization last month showed that 53 percent of Americans believe Saddam Hussein "was personally involved in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks."

Maybe he was. Who knows? Maybe he wasn’t. I tend to avoid polls like this and talk radio because the last thing I need is to hear more uninformed opinions. Hmm, maybe I should stop reading Richard Cohen.

Little by little, that number will drop and so, as a result, will support for the war.

Only if everyone thinks the way Richard wants them to that a war with Iraq is only about retaliation for 9/11.

This presents the Bush administration with a dilemma. After all, if Hussein is unconnected to Sept. 11, then the only thing that has changed since that awful day is public sentiment.

Uh, no. Unfortunately Richard didn't get an advance copy of Tony Blair’s Iraq Dossier. And why, oh why, does Richard Cohen want to see the people of Iraq suffer under the yoke of Saddam Hussein. Is he so filled with guilt and self doubt that he cannot imagine we will work to make things better, not just for us but for them as well. Look at Afghanistan for Pete’s sake.

The Clinton administration also wanted to do away with Hussein.

And in theory bin Laden. But in practice…

But Bill Clinton was mired in a sex scandal and in no position to do anything more than bomb Iraq for five days. Even that bombing was denounced by congressional Republicans as a way to divert attention from what really mattered -- Monica Lewinsky.

This explanation has the unique benefit of being true. But I think the Republicans thought that what mattered was abusing the power of his office, being a sexual predator, and perjury – not Monica Lewinsky.

But what’s with this five day limitation? Hmm, is this the genesis of Mr. Bill’s comments about getting a gun and going to die in a trench with the Israeli’s? Did Mr. Bill think he was going to go and personally fight the Iraqi army? Wouldn’t his job be to decide on policy and set the wheels in motion and let the professionals execute? My God, just imagine Bill Clinton picking targets in the Oval Office in the event of a hot war.

In contrast, President Bush for the moment has public backing for war. But that moment cannot last much longer, and Saddam Hussein -- no fool he -- clearly is playing for time.

And people like Richard Cohen are playing right along as useful idiots.

He has unconditionally accepted the return of U.N. arms inspectors to Iraq.

Flat out lie. This goes far beyond being mistaken, or doesn’t Richard Cohen read the Washington Post?

There's a good chance Hussein is insincere, but there's also the chance that this time he knows America is serious.

These are not mutually exclusive options. And you want to talk about wishful thinking… a good chance?

He'd like to rule the Middle East, but he'd settle for just keeping his head.

How does Richard know what Saddam wants?

Hussein's sudden reasonableness…

By now the odor of whatever Richard is smoking should be noticeable from a block away.

… puts the Bush administration face to face with a cliche: Can it take yes for an answer?

Yes to what? Is Richard disappointed because President George W. Bush didn't fall all over himself like Kofi Annan did because Iraq agreed to hold discussions about negotiating to meet to determine when inspectors could be considered to be allowed to see some parts of Iraq?

Another way of asking that question is what, precisely, are its war aims?

To enforce all the UN resolutions on Iraq that Saddam Hussein has flaunted, including the destruction of his weapons of mass destruction, the release of the population from his personal reign of terror, and …, oh yeah, his head on a stick.

If one is revenge for Sept. 11, that's already a non-starter.

Well, I wrote a long time ago that this wasn't about revenge, but as long as Richard had spent so much time and energy on that straw man he figured he might as well keep using it.

If another is to ensure that Iraq is stripped of weapons of mass destruction -- chemical, biological and, above all, nuclear -- then thorough inspections might suffice.

Uh, no. Someone else (sorry, cannot remember who) noted that we can’t stop illicit drugs from flowing into the country in vast quantities, so why do we think that inspectors can automatically be 100% effective?

If, however, the aim is to put Hussein in the past tense, then that's a different matter and raises a critical question: Is the elimination of one man worth the lives of possibly many Americans?

Wrong question. The correct question is whether the elimination of one man is worth the lives of so many Iraqis. We could eliminate Saddam without risking a lot of American lives if we have no regard for Iraqi lives, but we don’t work that way. How much more “proof” does Richard need that the US goes out of its way to avoid killing innocents? And anyway, a magic bullet to take out Saddam does not solve the problem. Unfortunately, Uday is probably just as great a monster.

After all, Saddam Hussein is not the only beast in the jungle, and we are not in the habit of going to war just to rid the world of bad guys.

Actually, we aren’t in the habit of going to war for any reason. But if a “bad” guy threatens or harms us, we will go after them. Ask Manuel Noriega. Or the ghost of Usama bin Laden. But seriously, don’t you think Richard would get tired of these straw men at some point.

If he can be contained, if he can be treated as we have treated Cuba's Fidel Castro -- sanctions, maybe some covert activity, support for the Iraqi opposition, etc. -- then that might be sufficient.

If wishes were horses…

It's up to Bush to define and narrow his war aims.

Has Richard somehow missed every speech the President has given in the past year?

Does he want a neutered Iraq or a dead Hussein -- or both?

How about a neutered Hussein and then a dead Hussein.

I'd like both, to tell you the truth, but only the former seems a reason for war.

Well which is it. Has Richard’s passion waned or does he want Saddam dead? Can’t he maintain a consistent stance for at least one column?

If Hussein has -- and is about to develop -- a nuclear capability, then he presents an unacceptable threat to the region and, by extension, to America's interests in the Middle East.

If he has it, then he doesn’t need to develop it. But either way, we know he wants it and he is far too unstable to be allowed to threaten us with it. I wonder what Richard would write if Saddam tried to kill former President Bill Clinton like he did former President George H. W. Bush.

If, on the other hand, he is humbled and truly disarmed -- if he is forced to comply with a gaggle of U.N. resolutions –

Gaggle me with a spoon.

… then he may remain a cur and a lout, but outside of Iraq he can do no real damage.

This is nonsense. But again, why is Richard so anxious to have the people of Iraq suffer at the hands of this madman indefinitely?

The drums of war, once sharp and snappy, are sounding muddled.

Remember the first sentence where Richard implied that some in the administration just won’t be happy without a war? I guess Dick thinks Secretary Cheney and Secretary Rumsfeld must have been high-fiving each other once 9/11 happened! Well, I’m disgusted by this recurring insult to these fine men and the impugning of their motives and their honor.

Do we want an Iraq without Hussein or merely one without weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear ones?

Yes.

Frankly, I don't know anymore, and I don't think the Bush administration does either.

Then Richard is a moron, and I mean that in the harshest possible way. Since Richard wants Saddam’s head on a stick, does this mean he’s ok with Uday having weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear ones if he’ll just dispose of undear old dad?

The more time between windup and delivery, the more questions get raised.

Nothing wrong with intelligent questions. Intelligent questions.

Since last Sept. 11, a cause for war has become a cause to wonder.

September 11 initiated the War on Terrorism, not war with Iraq. If we do go to war with Iraq, it is only as part of a larger plan. Meanwhile we are left to wonder what cause Richard is really fighting.



 

Hockey Night

OK, the Iowa Beer League is operational. My team (the St. Louis Blackhawks) is as follows:

C Doug Weight
C Chris Drury
C Saku Koivu
LW Paul Kariya
LW Cory Stillman
RW Jarome Iginla
RW Daniel Alfredsson
RW Petr Sykora
D Teppo Numminen
D Mathieu Schneider
D Kimmo Timonen
D Alexander Khavanov
D Sandis Ozolinsh
G Martin Brodeur
G Brent Johnson
G Roman Turek

Since I'm by no means a hockey expert, any comments about strengths and weaknesses of this roster are welcome.

Oh, and don't forget to go by Puckhog.



 

Mr. Irrelevant

Can we get whoever wins the Super Bowl this year to draft Al Gore with their last pick just to make it official?



Monday, September 23, 2002
 

You Can't Call Someone Ugly All Week...

... and then expect them to go to the dance with you on Saturday night.



 

Just In Case...

... anybody still wished that Al Gore had won the last election: Gore in California Speech Warns Against Iraq Attack

Former Vice President Al Gore came out strongly on Monday against any precipitous U.S. attack on Iraq, saying the Bush administration has embarked on a dangerous course that could alienate allies and derail America's war on terror. Gore, who narrowly lost the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush, said in a major speech here that the Republican administration risked undermining international rule of law by setting its sights on "regime change" in Baghdad. He lashed out at Bush support for pre-emptive strikes, calling it "a go it alone, cowboy-style" approach to foreign policy.

[...snip...]

Gore said the new Bush administration policy of seeking pre-emptive strikes against possible security threats painted the United States as a unilateralist bully and undermined international goodwill sparked by the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington. "That has been squandered in a year's time and replaced with fear, anxiety and uncertainty all around the world -- not about what the terrorist networks are going to do, but about what we're going to do," Gore said. Gore conceded that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was a potential threat and said that Washington should seek the rest of the world's support in devising a plan to deal with him "in a timely fashion."


No time to abuse Al now as he deserves, it's draft night on Puckhog! But I will note that Al's lederhosen must be a little tight these days.



 

Timing The Market

For those paying attention, my latest prediction regarding the market still seems to be more or less correct. In fact, thus far, everything I have predicted about the market and posted has come to pass. I last indicated that I would be getting back in when the market gets down to 7,000. I'm sticking to that, but I should qualify that comment with the fact that I am acting on that advice with the bulk of my investments that go into broad-based mutual funds. There are still some very good buys out there right now.

Today I bought Oracle at $7.50 and GE at $26.40. I only offer this up now only as a way of establishing a historical record for my predictions. I'm not offering any rhyme or reason, though they do exist. And I do not advise anyone to do anything based upon what I have done.

As Pete said, "Do not seek the treasure."



 

Reality Check

Hotel Illness is banned in China.

I'm not yet, but I feel as though I have failed in my mission to still be acceptable.

If you go to the link, you can find out if you have been banned in China.



Sunday, September 22, 2002
 

The Blog Party

Laurence Simon is running for President and wants ideas from the blog community for a cabinet. Here are my suggestions:

Vice President: Oliver Willis, because he wants it and Condi doesn't have a blog.

President's Chief of Staff: Eugene Volokh.

Attorney General: Glenn Harlan Reynolds.

Secretary of Defense: Steven Den Beste, but seriously, it's pretty hard to improve on Donald Rumsfeld.

Secretary of State: Juan Gato, the diplomatic community could use a guy like Juan.

Secrerary of the Treasury: Megan McArdle.

Secretary of Agriculture: David Hogberg.

Secretary of Commerce: Elizabeth Spiers.

Secretary of the Interior: Tom Daubert.

Secretary of Labor: Virginia Postrel.

Secretary of Energy: Jay Manifold.

Secretary of Education: Joanne Jacobs, but remember, your job is to eliminate your job.

Secretary of Transportation: Bill Quick, because he rides a bike and has had more than enough of Norman Mineta.

Secretary of Health and Human Services: Charles Murtaugh, because he cares.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs: Paul Palubicki.

Secretary of Housing & Urban Development: Will Vehrs, because he's a developer.

Environmental Protection Agency: Greg Hlatky.

Office of Homeland Security: James Lileks, because he had to be in here somewhere and at least those endless alerts will be more informative and entertaining.

Office of Management and Budget Director: Me, because I'm pretty good with numbers and MS Excel.

Office of National Drug Policy Control: Stephen Green, because he'll enjoy it.

United States Trade Representative: Derek Lowe.

Chew on that for a while.



 

Oh, the Humility!

From the lead editorial of the New York Times:

As a presidential candidate two years ago, George W. Bush called for a degree of humility in our dealings with other nations. Since Mr. Bush took office, it has often been hard to locate that sentiment in his foreign policy. The latest and most definitive articulation of his views, published on Friday, reflects a good deal more modesty and generosity than earlier expressions, but it also bristles with bald assertions of American power.

From the lead editorial of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

AMERICA is turning an angry face to the world. In confronting Iraq, President George W. Bush has appeared more interested in waging war than negotiating peace. Last week, seemingly impatient to get on with it, Mr. Bush rejected Saddam Hussein's tardy offer to open up to weapons inspectors. Meanwhile, Mr. Bush has laid out an aggressive, first-strike foreign policy, detailed in Friday's National Security Strategy. The strategy casts aside traditional doctrines of non-proliferation, deterrence, non-aggression and multi-lateralism in favor of "counter-proliferation," pre-emption and unilateralism. Gone is the "humility" that Mr. Bush spoke of during his campaign. In its place is what Mr. Bush calls a "distinctly American internationalism" in which no country is allowed to challenge U.S. might. This is Pax Americana without the pax.

Is humility, or a lack thereof, the latest "point" to be beat to death by the denizens of the DNC? Considering that the poster boy for illiberalism still seems to be Bill Clinton, this isn't an area they ought to be hitting to hard. At least, I guess we won't be hearing any more about President George W. Bush's lack of gravitas.





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