Friday, October 11, 2002

Moving out sale! Everything Must go!

That's right folks, pursuant with my move to my new home at www.MeanMrMustard.net, every part of this site must be sold off! We've got tons of items that are going at low low prices. In fact, our prices are so low, you'll think I've suffered brain damage!

We've got items for the whole family. Along with a large stock of mainstream products such as full collections of definite articles, indefinite articles, preopsitions, modifiers and assorted nouns, verbs and adjectives, we also have a special selection of hard-to-find items that you won't be able to get anywhere else in the blogosphere!

Due to our company's policy of consuming large amounts of alcohol prior to posting, we have accumulated an impressive array of unique words that will impress your friends and baffle your enemies.

Ever wanted to have a "the" spelled with a 6? Well now you can!

Are you afraid that spelling "trapanasomiasis" correctly will make you seem snooty? No worries, because we right now have over 10 different versions for you to use, so that your friends won't worry about you thinking you're better than everyone else. (note: we assume no responsibility for any beatings you may undergo for merely using the word "trapanasomiasis" at all).

So get these items while they're still here, because no one likes a smarty pants.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Regular blogging to resume soon...

...seeing as how I'm going through what should be the last steps to get Movable Type up and working. I've hit a few snags that I'm seeking advice on, and so soon I hope to have those issues resolved.

Then you'd better ready for more hot blog-on-blog action!

Much too little of it these days...

Common sense, that is. How nice now that we've got a one-stop-shop for it in the blogosphere.

So take a gander at Common Sense, and guys, don't be intimidated by the pink background. Just because you're reading a pink blog doesn't make you any less of a man.

That frilly underwear you've got on that you stole from your girlfriend's dresser on the other hand, does.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Search Query Fun

My favorite one of the day: "effects of detergent in mustard."

Apparently pouring Tide in your Dijon causes one to get a blog and start firing off angry screeds.

Bush Rex

The Rott points out the latest episode in Jim McDermott's descent into paranoid delusional madness, claiming with a straight face that Bush seeks to crown himself emperor of America.

This accusation raises an important and troubling issue: when a national political figure has gone completely bananer, do you invoke an intervention, bringing together his friends and family for a frank and honest discussion about how much they are all worried about his downward spiral in the hopes that he will seek the help he needs, or do you just beat him silly with a sack full of doorknobs?

The first solution is productive and empathic, but the second is just so much more goddamned fun!

"Who Would Wish This on Anyone?"

Jon MacArthur asks this question in the title of his article on Common Dreams, in which he begs for an answer to the query, in the manner of a 5 year old seeing things that are impossibly beyond his mental grasp, "Why do people go to war, Daddy?". This sort of naivete can be endearing in the unblemished innocence of a child, but for a full-grown man who is the publisher of Harper's, it strikes one as a little pathetic.

Indeed, a more apt substitute for what the "this" refers to in his title would not be war, but his sad piece of shoddy, illogical and purely emotional drivel that is MacArthur's article. This might seem cruel to my readers to quote extensively from it, but if I had to go through the mental anguish of reading it, then so do you, dammit.

The feverish war talk pouring forth from Washington and the cable networks this past year was inevitable, given 9/11.

That's right, jingoistic American cowboys can't really be expected to do anything else. I like how you, in one stupid sentence, reduce all the moral, strategic and geopolitical concerns that have led up to America planning military action against Iraq into a cathartic mass hysteria of kvetching in some blind, hate-fueled need to get us some revenge 'gainst all them Ay-Rabs. It's much easier than addressing any kind of issue that actually pertains to the situation isn't it?

I see you've been taking Maureen Dowd's workshop.

But lately, the relentless barrage of military enthusiasm has caused me to wonder: How did war itself -- that is, killing, maiming, bombing and burning -- come to be such a popular program in American political and media circles?

Because after all, that's all war is. It's us dropping bombs and whooping it up at all the big noises and shiny things while poor people blow up into little bits.

It's not as if war against Saddam actually serves the easily identifiable purpose of self-defense and world security, is it? Admit it, using a bunch of high-falutin' arguments about weapons of mass destruction and violation of cease-fire agreements is just coded language to mask the fact that you want to kill people in other countries to make yourself feel like a big man.

MacArthur completely brushes aside any reference to any of the stated reasons for this particular war and simply claims that all war ever is can be labeled "killing, maiming, bombing and burning." It is completely pointless, you see. All just about mindless violence.

Ah, the innocence of children... or of a middle-aged man with the deductive powers of children, who are able to discern that wars often increase the amount of frowns and tears, and so conclude that therefore we should tell all the bad men with the big guns to stop doing those things and instead sing songs about sharing and togetherness to each other.

Logically, human beings ought to be terrified of war; after all, you or someone you know might die in one, or suffer a hideous wound, either as a combatant or an innocent bystander. Yet some in the Bush administration -- not just the cynical political operatives who would count votes before they would count corpses -- seem positively thrilled by the notion of smashing Iraq, and a lot of Iraqis, to pieces.

Or, "How could you want to go to war, don't you know you might get hurt? Leave that tank alone, you could put an eye out!"

And it's good to know that the Bushies aren't planning to sacrifice the lives of our soldiers only to win an election. They also have an unquenchable bloodlust on top of that! Whew, good to know.

And of course, despite the fact that everyone in any position of power has said over and over again how our quarrel is not with the Iraqi people, but Saddam and his cronies, MacArthur isn't fooled. Oh no. This war is about killing lots of innocent Iraqis. Why else would we be doing it? War is about "killing, maiming, bombing and burning," remember?

There being little opposition among elected politicians here at home to leveling Afghan villages and destroying Iraqi sewage plants, I had to look elsewhere for an explanation -- to an interview I conducted last April with a German of Second World War vintage, Helmut Schmidt, who was West Germany's Social Democratic chancellor from 1974 to 1982.

And also spent about 4 years fighting to bring Europe under the sway of that icon of peace and freedom, Adolf Hitler.

A venerable 83 years old when I met him in a midtown Manhattan hotel room, Mr. Schmidt seemed not to care much what American politicians thought of him any more, or European politicians for that matter, so I figured I'd come to the right place. His generation of Cold War leaders has passed from the public stage and he now spends his days as the elder statesman publisher of Die Zeit, the great Hamburg-based intellectual weekly.

The contortions that MacArthur goes through in order to brush aside the fact that Schmidt fought for the Nazis in that last paragraph should qualify him for a circus sideshow.

The problem with all the self-righteous, post 9/11 saber rattling, Mr. Schmidt told me, was that the politicians doing the rattling literally don't know what they're talking about. "In none of the European capitals do you still have individuals who have lived through war as grown-up people, be it as soldiers, be it in concentration camps as prisoners, be it in the basements of cities where the bombs and the fire were falling from the sky," he said. "They don't know what war is. They haven't experienced it. . . . Mr. Clinton hasn't, Mr. Bush hasn't. They don't know what war means to people. And they are, therefore, more easily inclined to intervene by force, even under humanitarian auspices . . . without conceiving the loss of lives that any military intervention brings with it."

I recall (vaguely, since I was a wee lad at the time) the testimonies of all sorts of disarmament activists during the 80's who appeared before congress during the periodical drives advocating the US to just give up all our nukes and hope that the Soviet Union would follow our noble example.

So you basically got people like Ralph Nader parading their moral superiority and indignation at the fact that a simple, obvious truth was being ignored by all kinds of military experts and senators and presidents: that nuclear war would like, really, really suck, man!

And the senators taking the breathless statements of these people describing the horrors of nuclear war would sort of try to hide the pained looks on their faces that seemed to suggest "As if we didn't know that, you silly twit."

I'm tempted to ask just how, since no one has ever had to experience a M.A.D. nuclear exchange, would they have been in any psoition to talk about how bad one would be? And just what gave them the moral authority to argue against it, never having had to live through what they're denouncing?

It might just be because a halfway intelligent person doesn'tt have to participate in a war to recognize the perils inherent. Forget that walk-a-mile-in-their-shoes, because most of the time, that argument is pure sillines. It is based on the contention that rational person cannot make any kind of reasonable judgement about a situation without directly experiencing it.

This is utter nonsense, and it demonstrates a kind of blind unshakeable faith in simplistic platitudes of which MacArthur has thus far shown himself to be quite the connoisseur.

Were this childlike belief true, then we would have to, for instance, abolish the entire Western tradition of law, since it is predicated on the principle that normal people (jurors and judges) can reach logical and correct conclusions about a situation (a crime) in which they had no part. Likewise, it does not speak well for the human condition as a whole if the president or his advisors cannot be counted on to realize that war is a difficult, bloody and treacherous affair. MacArthur essentially makes the same assumption that is an Idiotarian fave: that the fact that anyone is even thinking about war is proof positive that they have not even given a moment's thought to the dangers. Don't they know people die in war?

Read on, there's much more to shake your head sadly at or pump your fist in anger.

Monday, October 07, 2002

Matthew Engel: Reductio ad Idiotium

Ok, so everyone by this point is painfully aware of the fact that the specter of Nazism and Hitler and fascism is used far too often. George Orwell was able to see and comment on this more than 50 years ago when he said that, by the way people were using it, that the word fascism essentially came to mean anything that was even vaguely disliked by anyone.

So that's why I'm never surprised when I see or hear about the ghosts of National Socialism creeping into the most absurd of places in public debate today. I'm not surprised when the mendacious snakes in America and Europe that pimp for the murder of Israeli civilians at the hands of Hamas call the Israelis Nazis, or depict Sharon as Hitler. Nor am I particularly shocked that a German government official compared Bush to Hitler (and I won't even go into the fact that the irony in that statement is so thick you couldn't cut it with a blowtorch).

So in that sense, Matthew ENgel of the Guardian is correct. The word is thrown around too much these days. No one would dispute that. I, for one, wouldn't be surprised if it became so common that someone who got cut off in traffic would roll down their window and shout "Watch where you're going, Hitler!"

But Engel's solution to this problem is to completely banish the word as well as any other associated with Nazism from any kind of use in discussion about current affairs. I'm not sure how serious he's being about this (isn't a sense of humor somehow prohibited in the hiring process at the Guardian?), but however much he really means what he says directly correlates with how dumb he ends up looking in his article.

This would not apply to discussion of German history in the years up to 1945. That is not the problem. The problem is the incessant appearance of the words as a resort to winning arguments about modern politics.

Well I'm glad he doesn't want to strike the word out of history books, because that's what I thought he meant! (As a sidenote, it's not as if Hitler isn't relevant to history that takes place after the end of WWII, although a lot of Germans would like to think of it that way.)

But yes, it's wrong to invoke the Nazis as some sort of argumentative ad hom trump card. But is Engel saying anything new or original by making this statement? No half-way sensible person would ever have doubted that in the first place. Engel ends up showing his real ideological cards a little later on:

Let's be clear about this. Saddam Hussein is not Hitler, as hysterical Americans keep claiming. The charges of external violence are 12 years old. There is no coherent evidence that he had any plans (at least before the US began goading him) for more adventures, merely that he is obsessed with stockpiling weaponry, a charge that applies equally to the Pentagon. Far from seeking global or regional domination, he only dominates portions of Iraq.

Hoo-boy, and there it is. The first and most prominent example Engel trots out is "hysterical" Americans claiming that Saddam is Hitler. Yes, that is why we shouldn't be using the word anymore.

I hate to have to take apart the nice little strawman that you've built here, Engel, but there aren't many Americans (even among the more "hysterical" of us) who just claim outright that Saddam is just another Hitler, a Boy From Brazil with a slightly bushier mustache.

What many people have done (and demonstrated good reason for doing so) is to point out similarities between the two that are worth drawing. Just one of the most prominent of these is the sheer degree of inhumane brutality between the Baath party in Iraq and the Nazi party in Germany. The level of well-documented torture that seems to serve both political and personal ends is simply nauseating. And no, it isn't matched the world over in dozens of other countires. I have no wide-eyed naive views about the rest of the globe being a cheery, innocent place, but others besides Saddam and his cronies would have to work very hard and be very creative to just come close to the amount of torture and pain and death inflicted in Iraq over the last 20 years.

In this case, as in many others, comparing the Tikrit monsters to Nazis is not unwarranted. Indeed, it would be instructive and helpful to do so. It would be even more instructive if the word were not diluted to such an extent and robbed of the real power it should have by despicable liars and demagogues who can't muster up the intellectual courage to confront the ideas of their opponents, and instead start hurling accusations of Nazism.

The pro-war folks (and in general those more on the Right) do not call anyone who happens to disagree with them Hitler. They don't talk about fascist tactics in an election whose outcome they don't happen to like. And they don't say that simply deporting foreigners who have already overstayed their visas and are thus already in violation of US law is putting us on the slippery slope to hanging swastikas outside every window.

And therein lies the real reason that Engel has embarked on this foolish crusade: because almost exclusively, those who employ those words and images in their outrageous, illogical and dishonest fashion are on the Left. The laughably ridiculous Students for Justice in Palestine label Hillel members Nazis. People (read: idiots) photoshop images of Bush wearing a brownshirt and giving a left-handed Nazi salute. A German twit suggests that Bush is taking a page from the Hitler/Goebbels playbook, trying to placate and fool the masses by focusing them on a nonexistent outward enemy. And then some people make well-supported comparisons of some aspects of Nazism and the current regime in Iraq.

Now boys and girls, which of these things is not like the others?

Engel wants to banish the use of Nazis in public debate because it is invariably the Left that ends up looking stupid because of it, with their shrill, over-the-top accusations and poorly drawn comparisons. Whereas on the other side of the political spectrum, comparing some aspects of Saddam Hussein to Hitler is actually justified and useful. Engel ends up looking like one of those painfully idiotic college kids who can't the difference between Bush and Hitler when he claims that any rhetorical use of the Nazis is inherently demagogic and unjustified.

Maybe Engel truly does believe that. More likely in my mind is that he's afraid that the terror the image of Hitler strikes, and the revulsion that it produces in any civilized person will be put to constructive use by the pro-war folks, since thire accusation carries so much more weight, seeing as how it's not patently absurd and so dishonest as to be outright offensive. He's worried that people will actually be able to show that Saddam's intended ends, as well as the means that he is willing to employ to reach them, do in fact bear an unmistakable and non-trivial relation to that gigantic looming monster of human history, and thus that this will rightly galvanize people in the campaign to take military action in order to be rid of Saddam, which is what I think Mr. Engel is really concerned about.

He says, as if it is some sort of even-handed concession, that "Blair is not Hitler," and "Bush is not Hitler."

Well no fucking shit.

He states with equal certainty however that to label Saddam as Hitler is just as ridiculous, mentioning it as the first and foremost (and subtlely even the most egregious) misuse of the word. Sorry boyo, but that's a much tougher proposition to establish.

By simply lumping those three figures in together as all being equally "not Hitler," he's in effect comparing Bush and Blair to Saddam! This is almost as bad, if not worse, as saying that the President and the Prime Minister have secret cabinets full of jackboots and brownshirts at home, especially since he does this while outrageously striking a pose of singular level-headedness, pooh-poohing all the hysterical jingoistic Americans and the banshee cries of the panties-in-a-bundle Euros.

Engel better check himself. He's letting his hysteria show.

Anti-War Fever Strikes San Francisco!

Nurse, get me 20 CCs of common sense, stat!

The San Francisco Chronicle (the toilet paper of major US newspapers) has an article about an anti-war protest that took place over the weekend. The writer, Elizabeth Fernandez, stops just short of describing the event in completely breathless admiration, writing:

Anti-war fever awoke over the weekend, as about 8,000 protesters in San Francisco joined brethren across the country in a rising rumble against President Bush's drive to disarm Iraq.

I suppose it's a testament to the Chronicle's devotion to journalistic objectivity that she didn't call them fearless comrades struggling against an imperialistic regime.

A good way to judge someone is by the company they keep:

"This is the beginning of a solid anti-war movement," said Osama Qasem, 32, president of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, who attended Sunday's demonstration at Union Square.

Bad choice of name there, Osama. You might want to take a page from the book of any German immigrants that were named Hitler in 1941. For some reason you don't see many of those today.

Mr. Qasem's committee is a delightful repository of junk, lies and propaganda, eager to debunk such "myths" as the contention that the Israeli military seeking out murderous terrorists and the specific targeting of civilians by suicide bombers aren't the same thing, and that Arafat never condemns terrorism sincerely. As proof of the later, they cite two instances where Arafat apparently condemned some specific attacks.

Wow. Two whole quotes. I suppose you might also want to address the literally hundreds of quotes taken from that baby-wiping pussbag in which he unabashedly praises suicide bombers, as well that funny little moment where he called the 19 9/11 hijackers the "most noble men among us," or maybe, just as a crazy suggestion, you might consider explaining what was up with all that documented proof that Arafat and the PA personally had a hand in supplying and planning suicide attacks against Israeli women and children.

In the immortal words of Ben Stein: "Anyone? Anyone?"

Polls generally indicate support for military action against Iraq, believed by the Bush administration to have long been acquiring weapons of mass destruction, with a majority of people polled favoring multilateral backing through the United Nations.

Catch that? The fact that Saddam is trying to get WMDs is a "belief" on the part of the Bush administration, probably among those wacky loose cannons like Wolfy and Rummy. I wouldn't be surprised if I went back about 12 years in the Chronicle archives and found stories about the Gulf War where it referred to Iraq as being "believed by the Bush administration to have invaded Kuwait."

So anyway, it's nice that the kids could get out for a day and make themselves feel all nice and self-righteous. It's a good thing that they're in a severe minority, since I'm sure it only adds to their sense of satisfaction that they're so much more enlightened than all the war-mongering simpletons in "fly-over" country. And of course the Chronicle couldn't leave us without highlighting that cherished belief:

Watching bemusedly from the cable car queue was Chris Jacobsen, 19, a Coast Guard seaman apprentice visiting the city from Nebraska.

"There's a generation gap going on here. I see a lot of old people who probably haven't been protesting since Vietnam," said Jacobsen, who supports military action in Iraq. "San Francisco has been liberal for so long, you expect to see demonstrations like this here. In Omaha, this would never fly."

One of the more nauseating things about Berkeley (and that's saying a lot) is the constant self-referential and self-aggrandizing stance of "Hey America, look at us, we're liberal and iconoclastic and we're not afraid to show it!"

Not only are they not afraid, but they cream their pants with glee at the very suggestion.

The same sentiment runs rampant in San Francisco as well (a city with a massive inferiority complex if there ever was one), which constantly strives to show how much more refined, more sophisticated and generally just how much better it is, morally, intellectually, culturally. It's the tired, masturbatory dance of folks who just can't get over the fact that the rest of the country isn't interested in the opinions of what are so obviously its moral and intellectual betters.

So we get snippets like the one above, striving to show just how different they are from -shudder!- Omaha.

Yes, thank you. Message received. We'll let you know if the rest of us ever start caring. Just don't hold your breath.

No, on second thought: Please, hold your breath. If you start to lose conciousness it means it's working.

I'm on it, I swear!

I'm still working on the big switch over to Movable Type and the casting off of the shackles of Blogspot for greener hosting pastures. Should be happening soon.

Also, I've changed my email that I'm using for this site. Send all comments to mrmustard1980@yahoo.com

Sunday, October 06, 2002

Oh excellent.

The Angry Clam points to this despicable flyer from the despicable goons at Students for Justice in Palestine.

Rally on the 16th, eh?

I'll be there, you thugs. You'll be able to tell it's me cuz I'll be the one carrying the big "I disagree" sign.

I figure that's in keeping with the tradition of dissent from this kind of campus idiocy.

The blogosphere: typically pro-war because...

...we're part of an information medium that allows, nay, thrives on actual debate and having its ideas challenged. Or so suggests this JoeUser fellow (pointed to by the Prof).

I completely agree. No shock there.

I remember about 5 years ago, I was listening to Dennis Prager and the topic was liberal control of the media (Don't groan. It wasn't a normal topic for him. Besides, it's true). Someone called to disagree and they pointed to talk radio as a counter example, since it was so overwhelmingly conservative.

Prager didn't respond with the obvious answer to that contention: that Talk Radio was and is a tiny, tiny fraction of the media market when compared with mainstream print and broadcast journalism, but he did say "I can give you the reason why talk radio is more conservative than mainstream media, but you're not going to like it."

He said essentially that it was due to the fact that talk radio was the only medium that allowed direct, immediate confrontation of the ideas it put forth. The caller of course scoffed at this, just as there will sundry others will scoff at JoeUser's contention.

And they'll do so flimsily, using inept ad hom and equivocation, not bringing anything much of any real substance to the table, and the Blogosphere will hand them their rhetorical ass again.

And again.

Took the LSAT yesterday morning...

...and I feel like I did pretty well. I'm hoping for 170 or higher and I think that's at least in the realm of possibilities. It all depends which section was experimental. By the time the real part of the test was over and we had to do the writing section, I was sick of the whole thing and wanted desperately to get out of there.

People had told me beforehand that the writing section was a total joke, since it didn't count towards your numerical score at all, and is only included as a token nod to the fact that "writing matters too" or something. A guy from Princeton Review told me, "Don't even worry about the writing section. It'll take you like 10 minutes to do, and then you'll just be sitting there for the next half hour or so. If you get the urge to practice the writing section, just turn on the TV or something." He also told me that many law schools don't even to bother glancing at your writing sample, and that it almost doesn't matter what you write as long as it's not "I like weed," scrawled over and over.

Nevertheless, I decided to approach the matter seriously and took a whole 15 minutes or so and actually tried to present a coherent case with the space I was given, laying out several points and supporting them with warrants and evidence.

Then I wrote, "P.S. I like weed."

A different world? Not so fast there, buddy...

Today in the New York Times, Thomas Mann writes concerning Bush's foreign policy as it relates to that of Harry Truman.

It isn't an over-the-top piece. It isn't shrill or snarking or mired in reflexive nail-biting about addressing "root-causes" and asking why they hate us. These days, that's something to be thankful for.

That's not to say, however, that Mann doesn't drop the ball in the same tired way that so many before him have.

Central to Mann's proposition is that the geopolitical worlds of Truman and Bush are similar enough to use Truman as an exemplar of action for Bush to follow. Of course, this contention has never been credibly established, when it's been acknowledged at all. More often, you'll see (or not see) the assumption fly by without even being addressed by the writer.

Mann, at the very least, starts to look like he's going to address this point, but he never does. After praising Truman and offering qualified praise for Bush's actions immediately following 9/11, he goes on to say,

Of course, George Bush faces very different security threats and operates in a world vastly changed from what it was in Truman's time.

Upon first reading this, I briefly felt hope rising in my chest, hope that this fellow would finally be one to actually get it, that he would realize that Arab Traditionalism isn't the same kind of threat as Soviet Communism, that the current diplomatic climate is vastly different from that of the 1950's and carries with it different implications for action. I thought about how all the flavors of people who can be labeled (or rather, accused to be) conservatives in one or another, whether of the neocon, paleocon, libertarian, or any other such strain have likely been at one time accused of living in the past, or being out of touch, or stuck in some sort of world-gone-by, and I'm sure it would be an irony as bittersweet as tears on Turkish Delight for the new brand of "containment" doves were they to realize that they are absolutely buried up to the neck in the Cold War swamp, and that the world's situation has passed them by and left them behind, still slogging through the old theories that no longer apply.

These were the things that were going through my mind as I began to read that bit of Mann's piece. Of course, it wasn't long before reality came crashing down. It was the next sentence, in fact.

It is often said that American military, economic and technological primacy now affords us the freedom to wage discretionary wars and to pursue national interests without the cooperation of major allies or the approval of international organizations.

Dammit.

Mann, you were this close.

More:

Yet Truman had some of these same options. America emerged from World War II as the dominant economic and military power. It could have embraced a unilateralist and offensive posture in responding to postwar security challenges. But Truman resisted pressure from those advocating more aggressive actions against the Soviet Union and China. His restraint and his inclination to take the long view may fit the particular challenges now facing Mr. Bush.

At the very least, it must be acknowledged that the strongest actual proscriptive that Mann posits is for the Bush team to consider whether or not we could benefit from a similar strategy as Truman's. However, to my mind this is merely Mann hollowly hedging his bets, suggesting somehow that this strategy, as the dominant theory in American foreign policy for more than a half-century, hasn't already been addressed by the Bush administration as a possible course of action, as if they've just neglected or forgot about it somehow. It apparently doesn't enter the realm of possibilities that this theory of geopolitics has been examined and discarded because, when faced with Al Qeada and not the USSR, Iraq and not Vietnam, Iran and not China, the practices that went into halting international communism just don't apply.

Above, Mann seems to be on the verge of coming to terms with that fact: that the world, and the enemies we have in it, just aren't the same that they were 50 years ago, but instead claims that the really important differences between then and now aren't in the nature of who's opposing us, but of who we are (or think we are). Essentially, Mann seems to think that the only real matter of import these days is that now we think that we're so just so goddamned big!

Of Truman, Mann says,

His instinct was to look for allies and international legitimacy in responding to security threats while mobilizing American resolve and resources. He built and strengthened multilateral institutions, forged broad alliances to confront the Soviet Union, and turned immediately to the United Nations when North Korea launched its attack in 1950.

This is to suggest that president Bush has not done this.

The distinction that Mann seems to miss is that we do welcome and seek out allies in this conflict. We also consult with them and take their opinions seriously, but we do not let the fact that they happen to not agree with our ideas about what action the situation warrants to act as some sort of immediate and all-powerful check on what we can and can't do. That wasn't the case then and it isn't the case now. Almost no one believes we shouldn't consult with our allies. What is a matter of disagreement is just what "consult" means. Does it mean we ask for their input and form a plan, taking into mind their considerations but not necessarily agreeing with or implementing them, or does it mean they say "Nah, we really don't like that plan," and then we nod "Ok then," pack it up and just forget we ever thought of the whole silly business?

The crucial difference between Truman's time and Bush's on this side of the conflict lies not with the United States or its president, but in the nature of the UN and the rest of the international community.

Confronted with the kind of threat we're facing today, I'm sure Truman would have sought out UN approval to seek out and destroy the enemy, and should he have faced an indifferent or outright hostile UN, he would have gone ahead and done what he felt the country needed to do to ensure its protection anyway, because he would have realized that in times of crisis, you seek out your allies, but you don't let the fact that some of your allies may well be idiots in a particular situation keep you from acting sensibly. A coalition is a nice part of a means to an end, if you can swing it. It is not an end in itself.

If you've sent me email...

...over the last couple days, I didn't get it, since Eudora exploded and sent messy globs of POP all over my room. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get bits of porn spam out of carpet?

Anyway, I reinstalled, so if you sent anything important and don't mind sending it again, please do so (unless it's about Gwynne Dyer being a guy. Thank you, I have had this pointed out a number of times already. Besides, that's his problem, not mine.)

I said FISK! Huh! Good God, y'all! What is he good for? Absolutely nuthin'!

Say it again!

Well actually, I'm being unfair. He is good for several things.

  1. I am told that, were he melted down and separated into his various basic chemical components, he would be worth a full 71 cents.
  2. He has supplied the Blogosphere with one of its most enduring terms.
  3. He serves as a celebrity rolemodel for other victims of Extreme Stupidity Disease ("eliminate ESD in our lifetime!").
  4. He has not ceased to produce a constant stream of unthinking commentary, unhinged from any considerations of reality or the mental health of his readers, and thus serves as a wellspring for those looking for something to get their panties all up in a bundle about.

I'm sure there are others who have covered this, but it's just too goddamned much fun for me to not join the party as well, so witness the latest.

NATO Used the Same Old Trick When It Made Milosevic an Offer He Could Only Refuse
by Robert Fisk

It's the same old trap. NATO used exactly the same trick to ensure that it could have a war with Slobodan Milosevic. Now the Americans are demanding the same of Saddam Hussein – buried well down in their list of demands, of course. Tell your enemy that you're going to need his roads and airspace – with your troops on the highways – and you destroy his sovereignty.

Saddam's sovereignty, eh?

Did someone turn the clock back to 1990 and not tell me?

Ever since the cease-fire agreement that ended the first Gulf War, there hasn't been any sovereignty to speak of. Saddam gave it up (or rather, had it justifiably taken away from him) as the price of not having the coalition (read: US) forces personally hand him his ass after his terrifying million man army was scattered in 100 hours of fighting like cockroaches after the lights are flipped on.

You'd think a journalist of Fisk's caliber would have access to a dictionary. But since he obviously doesn't, let's have ourselves a little vocabulary review: sovereignty:

  1. Supremacy of authority or rule as exercised by a sovereign or sovereign state.
  2. Royal rank, authority, or power.
  3. Complete independence and self-government.
  4. A territory existing as an independent state.

So ask yourself, Robbie, does the fact that Saddam was forced to agree to give up its WMDs, forced to remain outside of the no-fly zones on the southern and northern ends of the country, and threatened with immediate military action should he not meet these conditions constitute "complete independence"?

I know it hurts, but just keep thinking, it'll come to you eventually.

Saddam has had no de jure sovereignty since the end of the Gulf War. He should have absolutely no de facto sovereignty as well, but because the UN has been remiss in its duties (a shock, that), this hasn't been the case. I'm crossing my fingers hoping that it will soon. I'm sure you're shitting yourself in terror at the thought, since you're no doubt certain that this will only serve to inflame the "Arab Street" further, and incite more of these poor, oppressed folks to whale on you some more. That's another reason I'm crossing my fingers.

That's what NATO demanded of Serbia in 1999. That's what the new UN resolution touted by Messrs Bush and Blair demands of Saddam Hussein. It's a declaration of war.

No, that isn't a declaration of war. It's a declaration of "We're going to do exactly what was agreed upon a decade ago." I realize that this pledge to actually follow through on statements made is a pretty frightening idea to everyone else in the UN, seeing as how it disrupts their wonderfully comfortable lifestyle of endless meetings catered with lobster and champagne while they perfect their most withering frowns to direct at their enemies, but hey, thems the breaks.

It worked in 1999. The Serbs accepted most of NATO's Interim Agreement for Peace and Self-government in Kosovo, but not Appendix 8, which insisted that "NATO personnel shall enjoy ... free and unimpeded passage and unimpeded access throughout the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia."

It was a demand that Mr Milosevic could never accept. US troops driving through Serbia would have meant, in these circumstances, the end of Yugoslav sovereignty.

It did not mean the end of Yugoslav sovereignty, it meant the end of Slobodan Milosevic, so yes, he couldn't accept that offer.

See, Fisk, this is the part where you explain what your moronic point is.

Oh. You don't have one. Very well...

This is a politically necessary statement, essentially giving Saddam one last chance to give up peacefully and not drag his country through a war. But of course he can't accept that, since he's a an egomaniacal freakazoid who only cares about his own survival and personal ambition. Does this fact somehow put him in the right?

But now we have the draft UN resolution which Presidents Bush and Blair insist the UN must pass. Arms inspection teams, it says, "shall have the right to declare for the purposes of this resolution ... ground and air-transit corridors which shall be enforced by UN security forces or by members of the UN [Security] Council".

In other words, Washington can order forces of the US (a Security Council member) to "enforce" these "corridors" through Iraq – on the ground – when it wants. US troops would thus be in Iraq. It would be invasion without war; the end of Saddam, "regime change", the whole shebang.

Well Fisk, you let it out. Your ideological pants are down to your ankles and we can all see your Idiotarian weenis in its pathetic, intellectually shriveled glory.

I always thought getting rid of Saddam without war was what all the anti-war folks wanted. I forget how I came to that conclusion...

Oh right.

That's what they said. Endlessly. For weeks.

Every bit of commentary that opposed the war that wasn't from the wackiest 2% of the left always preambled its claims that we shouldn't get rid of Saddam with some prosaic drivel about how nice it would be if Saddam suddenly dissapeared without war. Well, here you go, Fisk. It's even gift-wrapped with a nice little red bow and a card that reads "Courtesy of a simplistic, unilateral cowboy."

What? You're taking it back?

Geez, some people you just can't shop for.

No Iraqi government – even a Baghdad administration without the odious Saddam – could ever accept such a demand. Nor could Serbia have accepted such a demand from NATO, even without the odious Slobodan. Which is why the Serbs and NATO went to war.

Correction: no mass-murdering, insane crapocracy could accept those demands. Any reasonably intelligent government that actually cared about the welfare of the nation and its people more than its own selfish desires would throw up its hands and say "come on in!"

What, Saddam isn't one of those kinds of rulers? I, for one, am shocked and appalled.

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Rachel Lucas is right...

Blogspot ain't the best thing in the world for bloggers. She suggests that every blogger worth his or her words get off their duff and get their own domain or at least go somewhere else. Well, it just so happens that I've been contemplating such a move. But then of course, I've got a web admin friend who will just give me free hosting, cuz well, he's cool like that.

I doubt most bloggers are in the same fortuitous position and might hestitate to shell out 10-20 bucks a month in return for just the barebones of quality as far as web hosting goes.

But as for me, sometime over the next few days (more likely after Saturday), I'll be switching to www.meanmrmustard.net, and hopefully not long after I'll be abandoning this whole Bplogger deal and moving on to MovableType, and of course then the real fun will begin.

Take two Fisks and call me in the morning

Ugh. I'm tired of studying. The analytical reasoning section is beginning to grate on my nerves.

No, that's not true. It grated on my nerves the moment I came into contact with it. By now it's ground itself deep into my body cavity and is, as we speak, eviscerating entire sections of my lower intestine before hits the spine and makes a beeline for my cerebral cortex.

All the literature on preparing for standardized tests specifically says stop and take a break once the disembowlment metaphors start popping into your head. And who am I to disagree with the experts?

So I went a-coasting for some online idiocy to angry up the blood. I had to look for like, a whole 35 seconds, man. A slow day for internet stupidity if there ever was one. Maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places. Does Barbra Streisand have a blog?

So, zipping on over to Common Dreams, I come across a delightful screed (I mean that in the bad, un-Lileks way. I fear the chap has taken a perfectly good pejorative and forever draped a robe of ambiguity about it. From now on, we'll be wondering, "Did he mean a boring, crappy speech, or an incisive piece of invective with logic so sharp it could cut a penny?" I might have to stop using it altogether), this one by the "writer and activist" Rick Stahlhut. Take a gander.

Rick apparently does his writing and activismizing in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Now I'm sure there are lots of perfectly normal, sane people in Kalamazoo, and no, simply being from there or calling it your residence, by virtue of the name of the place, of course doesn't automatically make one a loon.

But I don't think it helps.

At least, it really doesn't help in Mr. Strahlhut's case, as he goes about "Considering Motives for Gulf War II."

Citizens can influence the decision whether to attack Iraq. This requires understanding our administration's likely motives, which are not necessarily the stated ones. Although this task may seem overwhelming to busy Americans, it is nevertheless worthwhile, given that many soldiers and innocents will die if we attack.

Thank goodness we have Rick here to illuminate things for us, the pedestrian proles, the provincial plebs, the (two more words that both begin with "p")s. I for one know that I'm "overwhelmed" whenever I turn on my TV and see all these strange bright colors and hear the voices of people coming out of it. Is my television box infested with some kind of evil spirit? Are there little elves somehow playing a dirty trick on me?

Usually at that point I start to turn big and green and inevitably end up having to buy a new shirt, so it's nice that Strahlhut is willing to do all this brain-intensive interpretive work for us ordinary Hulk-Americans. At the very least it'll help me save money on my wardrobe.

And thanks for letting me in on the whole "death in war" thing. I'd been operating on the assumption that no one would be hurt. All this time I thought the conflict would be decided with those foam aggression mallets you get at psychiatrists' offices. That way, we could settle our differences, get out all that pent-up rage, and then we could all sit down and "come to terms" with something, having a good, cathartic cry in the process.

History helps. Early in World War I, Woodrow Wilson was reelected on a pacifist platform. But he believed that we had to enter the war, and thus created the Creel Commission to turn public opinion. It worked.

History doesn't help you, you uninformed jackass.

Strahlhut here makes it sound as if Wilson deliberately misled the people during the election into thinking that he was against entering the war, all the while snickering at the dumb apes behind their backs while he went home every night and delighted in pushing little plastic armymen around a map of Europe spread out on his kitchen table.

Wilson was against going to war. He didn't plan to involve the US in it militarily. What he didn't count on during the election was that Germany wasn't going to give him that option. And by all indications, he still didn't want to go to war even when it seemed completely necessary after the accumulation of such events as unrestricted submarine warfare, the sinking of the Lusitania, the Zimmerman note to Mexico and acts of attempted sabotage on American soil. And in many respects, he was acquiescing to public opinion, not shaping it. I'm no fan of Woodrow Wilson, being quite the fuzzy-headed idealist that he was, but that doesn't mean you get a pass on distorting history in order to help make your silly, juvenile arguments.

Examining Gulf War I brings us up-to-date. Then, as now, the official mission was to get Hussein, the latest Hitler -- but when the war ended, he was still there. Going after Saddam personally would have cost American lives, we were told. But then Iraqi rebels tried to depose Hussein, and our troops stood down as Saddam crushed them.

OK, now you've lost me.

So you're suggesting that the US, when the vaunted "coalition" didn't want us going into Iraq and deposing Saddam just as he was at his most vunerable, should have given a hearty unilateralist "fuck off" to all the allied ankle-bters and done it anyway? Cuz I sure would've been just fine and dandy with that.

Or are you just using this as another shallow and empty snipe, pointing out something that didn't end perfectly without a single sour note and using that fact as justification that the entire endeavor was rotten to the core? Or are you just an idiot who can't even get his own position straight?

PR firms were hired to promote the war -- described in detail in John MacArthur's book, "Second Front." For example, the fall of the real Kuwait, a dictatorship which was probably stealing Iraqi oil, was not likely to create a great deal of sympathy here.

Ooooooooohhh.

I've got to admit he's got a point there. The Bush administration, deciding on a course of war, tried to actually convince the American people that it was the right thing to do! I suppose what Bush Sr. should've done is just said "Hey, I'm the president, I can do whatever I damn well please. I don't need anyone to agree me. I'm the president! Now let's gas up the jets and kill us some Iraqis!"

It's simply wonderful how Strahlhut never actually disputes anything Bush claimed, but instead implies that the mere act of trying to build national support for the cause automatically means he was being deceptive. You know, like all those dirty warmongers in the early 40's telling people to buy warbonds and join the army. Those miserable deceptive fucks.

Hill & Knowlton, then the world's largest PR firm, was hired to invent and deploy the now infamous incubator story, in which the Kuwaiti ambassador's daughter falsely claimed to have witnessed Iraqi soldiers dumping newborn babies out of hospital incubators and leaving them to die.

Wonderful use of the passage voice there, Ricky. It nicely distorts what you're saying and makes it sound like Bush knowingly and actively hired them to spread things he was aware were not true. Have you been taking lessons from Clinton? Well, then you should be well acquainted with this one. Come on, say it with me now: "Mistakes were made."

It was Kuwait that retained their services to spread international outrage over the Iraqi invasion, not Bush and company.

Big. Difference.

"Mistakes were made" sounds a lot better than "I fucked up," don't it?

Five years later, Bush senior's advisor Brent Scowcroft told the BBC that the war was really about oil. Not surprising. Weak dictators are preferred for maintaining stability and oil flow in the region. Hussein's flaw, despite the PR, was not his crimes, but that he'd become too strong and independent.

That's right. He was sticking it to the man, showing Whitey what was up, keepin' it real with all his Baath niggaz in da hood. Why we gotta be playa-hatin' on him like that??

Strahlhut, your stupidity is like a hot poker being turned in my brain.

Saddam was just as "independent" and "strong" before he rolled across the Kuwaiti border as he was after. Suddenly playing a game of geopolitical smash 'n grab didn't bother us because Saddam was asserting his ego-integrity. He was trying to conquer other countries. For all we cared he could assert his independence until he was blue in the face and keeled over in the dust from assertion-stroke. That's just a teensy bit different than treating neighboring countries like items in the impulse-buy rack at the Quik-E-Mart.

The strategy, apparently, was to weaken him, but not remove. With rebels dead and civilians devastated by our sanctions, a weaker Hussein would not be overthrown.

Teleology. Great. Why am I not surprised?

So the fact that he was never overthrown of course, of course means that it was all part of the big, nefarious, secret-handshake, Masonic plot for world domination. Because it couldn't possibly be because we foolishly
kow-towed to the notion of our "fragile" coaltion, made up of all those other countries (many of them dictatorships, Strahlhut! I'm sure you're shocked and appalled) that weren't too keen on us bringing about the great boogeyman of the current anti-war crowd, Instability, and thus let them dissuade us from doing what we knew would have been just and prudent to do.

Strahlhut then firmly adjusts his tin-foil hat and proceeds to say what this new war will really be about. I'll give you a hint, it begins with "oi" and ends with "l," and it isn't "oidel"

Go ahead, read the rest of it. You may get a kcik out of the way his mind works. Or doesn't.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Caustic, uninformed opinion on backorder...

I'm taking the LSAT this Saturday, so I won't be doing any heavy posting until I'm all done with that crap.

Until then, I invite you to look at the monkey.

Come on, look at the silly monkey.