a left leaning political blog -- it's not really about pie
a political blog, mostly, with a few cat pictures

Friday, February 28, 2003

Ari Gets Laughed Out of the White House Briefing Room

I hear that the video is hilarious, but it's no longer available on c-span's site.

Support for Bush's re-election falls below 50 percent

But it didn't stop him the first time.

Thursday, February 27, 2003

I was contacted recently by one of the pro-war liberals that I referred to in this post. He said, in part, that my arguments against war were not very strong. This is my response:

First, let me say that I feel that since it is your side that is proposing to kill many thousands of people, the onus is on you to offer convincing arguments. It is up to my side to respond only by saying "yes, that is sufficient to convince me that you may be right," or to say "no, your argument is insufficient to justify killing the innocent." That's all there is to it. Any discussion can only concern WHY we think that your arguments are insufficient, which is objective. You hunt, while I have difficulty killing ants in my kitchen. (No judgment is intended.) It is easier to convince some to kill then others. So to say that my argument is weak is incorrect. My argument (killing is bad) may seem simplistic, but it is the only real argument, and the only one that there can be. All other anti-war arguments are incidental.

I get very impatient listening to Bush administration's reasons for war. The idea that any country be asked to "disarm" -- especially one with such highly sought after natural resources -- is laughable. A "disarmed" country is left completely vulnerable, and I can understand any reluctance to rely only on the goodwill of others. Only when they give us the real reasons for invasion can any real debate begin. In the future (unless we change our course) there will be plenty of leaders that we dislike, and many will have nuclear weapons. We will need to formulate some plan for dealing with them that doesn't involve killing. We may as well start now. Maybe we should try to have a foreign policy that doesn't make people around the world want to kill us. I don't know if this is even remotely possible, but we should feel obligated to give it a try.

At this point I think that all discussion on this topic has been superficial. I would like to hear someone try to make a really good case for invasion. I would like to hear some pro-war person explain that yes, we can't stop at Iraq, we will go from there to Iran, Syria, etc. We won't have a choice but to dominate the whole region. Explain that yes, there will be more terror incidents on our own soil if we invade, but that is the price we pay for our high standard of living. Some Americans have to die so that others can be well off. Acknowledge all these things and then explain why this is preferable.

And on the anti-war side we need to acknowledge that not invading means that we may have to except a somewhat lower standard of living at some point in the future (as the currency for oil is converted to euros rather than dollars,) but that is the price we pay for our reluctance to kill children. (50% of the population of Iraq are under the age of 15.) The anti-war side has to acknowledge that we may be trading our nice cars, computers, college educations for our offspring, etc. (although I don't think the effect will be so drastic, if we are clever about things) for the privilege of not killing and dying in the Persian Gulf.

Comments? Halfabee zero one at cox dot net.

Sunday, February 23, 2003

Oh, no. I guess they found my weapons of mass destruction.

US plans total war against Kim

Statement by US Senator Robert Byrd
Senate Floor Speech
We Stand Passively Mute

Wednesday 12 February 2003

"To contemplate war is to think about the most horrible of human experiences. On this February day, as this nation stands at the brink of battle, every American on some level must be contemplating the horrors of war.

Yet, this Chamber is, for the most part, silent -- ominously, dreadfully silent. There is no debate, no discussion, no attempt to lay out for the nation the pros and cons of this particular war. There is nothing.

We stand passively mute in the United States Senate, paralyzed by our own uncertainty, seemingly stunned by the sheer turmoil of events. Only on the editorial pages of our newspapers is there much substantive discussion of the prudence or imprudence of engaging in this particular war.

And this is no small conflagration we contemplate. This is no simple attempt to defang a villain. No. This coming battle, if it materializes, represents a turning point in U.S. foreign policy and possibly a turning point in the recent history of the world.

This nation is about to embark upon the first test of a revolutionary doctrine applied in an extraordinary way at an unfortunate time. The doctrine of preemption -- the idea that the United States or any other nation can legitimately attack a nation that is not imminently threatening but may be threatening in the future -- is a radical new twist on the traditional idea of self defense. It appears to be in contravention of international law and the UN Charter. And it is being tested at a time of world-wide terrorism, making many countries around the globe wonder if they will soon be on our -- or some other nation's -- hit list. High level Administration figures recently refused to take nuclear weapons off of the table when discussing a possible attack against Iraq. What could be more destabilizing and unwise than this type of uncertainty, particularly in a world where globalism has tied the vital economic and security interests of many nations so closely together? There are huge cracks emerging in our time-honored alliances, and U.S. intentions are suddenly subject to damaging worldwide speculation. Anti-Americanism based on mistrust, misinformation, suspicion, and alarming rhetoric from U.S. leaders is fracturing the once solid alliance against global terrorism which existed after September 11.

Here at home, people are warned of imminent terrorist attacks with little guidance as to when or where such attacks might occur. Family members are being called to active military duty, with no idea of the duration of their stay or what horrors they may face. Communities are being left with less than adequate police and fire protection. Other essential services are also short-staffed. The mood of the nation is grim. The economy is stumbling. Fuel prices are rising and may soon spike higher.

This Administration, now in power for a little over two years, must be judged on its record. I believe that that record is dismal. In that scant two years, this Administration has squandered a large projected surplus of some $5.6 trillion over the next decade and taken us to projected deficits as far as the eye can see. This Administration's domestic policy has put many of our states in dire financial condition, under funding scores of essential programs for our people. This Administration has fostered policies which have slowed economic growth. This Administration has ignored urgent matters such as the crisis in health care for our elderly. This Administration has been slow to provide adequate funding for homeland security. This Administration has been reluctant to better protect our long
and porous borders.

In foreign policy, this Administration has failed to find Osama bin Laden. In fact, just yesterday we heard from him again marshaling his forces and urging them to kill. This Administration has split traditional alliances, possibly crippling, for all time, International order-keeping entities like the United Nations and NATO. This Administration has called into question the traditional worldwide perception of the United States as well-intentioned, peacekeeper. This Administration has turned the patient art of diplomacy into threats, labeling, and name calling of the sort that reflects quite poorly on the intelligence and sensitivity of our leaders, and which will have consequences for years to come.

Calling heads of state pygmies, labeling whole countries as evil, denigrating powerful European allies as irrelevant -- these types of crude insensitivities can do our great nation no good. We may have massive military might, but we cannot fight a global war on terrorism alone. We need the cooperation and friendship of our time-honored allies as well as the newer found friends whom we can attract with our wealth. Our awesome military machine will do us little good if we suffer another devastating attack on our homeland which severely damages our economy. Our military manpower is already stretched thin and we will need the augmenting support
of those nations who can supply troop strength, not just sign letters cheering us on.

The war in Afghanistan has cost us $37 billion so far, yet there is evidence that terrorism may already be starting to regain its hold in that region. We have not found bin Laden, and unless we secure the peace in Afghanistan, the dark dens of terrorism may yet again flourish in that remote and devastated land.

Pakistan as well is at risk of destabilizing forces. This Administration has not finished the first war against terrorism and yet it is eager to embark on another conflict with perils much greater than those in Afghanistan. Is our attention span that short? Have we not learned that after winning the war one must always secure the peace?

And yet we hear little about the aftermath of war in Iraq. In the absence of plans, speculation abroad is rife. Will we seize Iraq's oil fields, becoming an occupying power which controls the price and supply of that nation's oil for the foreseeable future? To whom do we propose to hand the reigns of power after Saddam Hussein?

Will our war inflame the Muslim world resulting in devastating attacks on Israel? Will Israel retaliate with its own nuclear arsenal? Will the Jordanian and Saudi Arabian governments be toppled by radicals, bolstered by Iran which has much closer ties to terrorism than Iraq?

Could a disruption of the world's oil supply lead to a world-wide recession? Has our senselessly bellicose language and our callous disregard of the interests and opinions of other nations increased the global race to join the nuclear club and made proliferation an even more lucrative practice for nations which need the income?

In only the space of two short years this reckless and arrogant Administration has initiated policies which may reap disastrous consequences for years.

One can understand the anger and shock of any President after the savage attacks of September 11. One can appreciate the frustration of having only a shadow to chase and an amorphous, fleeting enemy on which it is nearly impossible to exact retribution.

But to turn one's frustration and anger into the kind of extremely destabilizing and dangerous foreign policy debacle that the world is
currently witnessing is inexcusable from any Administration charged with the awesome power and responsibility of guiding the destiny of the greatest superpower on the planet. Frankly many of the pronouncements made by this Administration are outrageous. There is no other word.

Yet this chamber is hauntingly silent. On what is possibly the eve of horrific infliction of death and destruction on the population of the nation of Iraq -- a population, I might add, of which over 50% is under age 15 -- this chamber is silent. On what is possibly only days before we send thousands of our own citizens to face unimagined horrors of chemical and biological warfare -- this chamber is silent. On the eve of what could possibly be a vicious terrorist attack in retaliation for our attack on Iraq, it is business as usual in the United States Senate.

We are truly "sleepwalking through history." In my heart of hearts I pray that this great nation and its good and trusting citizens are not in for a rudest of awakenings.

To engage in war is always to pick a wild card. And war must always be a last resort, not a first choice. I truly must question the judgment of any President who can say that a massive unprovoked military attack on a nation which is over 50% children is "in the highest moral traditions of our country". This war is not necessary at this time. Pressure appears to be having a good result in Iraq. Our mistake was to put ourselves in a corner so quickly. Our challenge is to now find a graceful way out of a box of our own making. Perhaps there is still a way if we allow more time.

Friday, February 21, 2003

Thursday, February 20, 2003

White House advisors looking for a "way out" of war with Iraq

"Republican leaders in both the House and Senate are telling the Presidently privately that he is losing support in Congress for a "go it alone war" against Iraq.

""The President's war plans are in trouble, there's no doubt about that," says an advisor to House Speaker Dennis J. Hastert. "Some Republican members want a vote on military action and some of those say they would, at this point, vote against such action."

"Some White House advisors are urging the President to consider complying with the UN position or to look for other "face saving" ways to avoid war with Iraq.

"President Bush, however, is reported to be "hanging tough" on plans to invade Iraq, even though his closest advisors tell him such a move could be "disasterous" politically.

""The President has backed himself and the nation into a corner in a no win situation," says political scientist George Harleigh. "World opinion is against him. Public opinion polls show support eroding among Americans.""

From Bush's speech just now:

"That's how you stimulate the economy. That's how you make sure people are looking for work."

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Why Iraq?

"Many people think that President George W. Bush wants to control Iraq's oil fields on behalf of U.S. companies. In mid-January, the German weekly Der Spiegel ran a cover story titled, "Blood for Oil." But anyone familiar with positions taken by American oil companies knows that this is implausible. In the late 1990s, oil companies lobbied to remove sanctions on Iraq. And most oil executives are extremely wary about the Bush policies toward Iraq, which they fear will destabilize the region.

What, then, explains the administration's Iraq policy? I offer here my own account, based on interviews with administration officials, press reports and, where necessary, speculation. It's not an explanation that will satisfy anyone looking for a single cause such as "blood for oil." Like many policy decisions, this one was the complicated and compromised product of different views and different factions within the administration. At any given point, it has contained contradictory aspects, wishful thinking and irrational fears, as well as the more conventional geopolitical calculations."

Molly Ivins on the current state of things:

A Season of Stupidity

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Thursday, February 13, 2003

I am increasingly annoyed by "liberals" who are advocating the invasion of Iraq.

I was listening to Rush the other day, and some dim-wit called in to say that the reason we have to have a war is that if we wait to take care of this problem, her children will have to go fight. They went on to discuss the fact that the anti-war people just have no good arguments. Hmmm.

I recalled having read a certain liberal blogger who is in favor of the invasion. Part of his argument was that he did not want to see his young boys eventually going to war in the region. I find this kind of thinking completely despicable. It's okay to kill little Iraqi children, but your own are just too special.

I am not against the invasion because "war is always wrong." I am not against it because "we haven't dealt with al Qaeda." I am not against it because "North Korea is a bigger threat," although it is, obviously, a much bigger threat.

I am against the war because war should always be a last resort. We entered WWII because some nut case was committing ethnic cleansing on a massive scale. That is the sort of thing that justifies a war. SH may be bad, but he's no Hitler. We can handle SH without killing children and babies. (And please don't refer me to the old "gassed his own people" myth.)

Pro-war liberals: go read this, and tell me if you are okay with doing something similar to innocent Iraqis. And if you are not in tears by the time you finish, you are a monster, not a human being.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

How stupid do they think we are?

There are days that, if I were a character in a comic book, there would be little squigly lines coming out of my head. They really think that we are so stupid that we will accept the absurd notion that the new bin Ladin tape proves that al-Qaeda is "in partnership" with Iraq. The Bush administration either cannot distinguish between the people of a country and the government of a country, or they are counting on us not being able to. As the tape confirms, OBL still hates SH.

As for Powell, why would he have destroyed his own credibility in such a way? I'm pretty sure that Dick Cheney has his children tied up in a basement somewhere.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

The real real reason

The Real Reasons for the Upcoming War With Iraq: A Macroeconomic and Geostrategic Analysis of the Unspoken Truth

"The Federal Reserve's greatest nightmare is that OPEC will switch its international transactions from a dollar standard to a euro standard. Iraq actually made this switch in Nov. 2000 (when the euro was worth around 80 cents), and has actually made off like a bandit considering the dollar's steady depreciation against the euro. (Note: the dollar declined 17% against the euro in 2002.)

"The real reason the Bush administration wants a puppet government in Iraq -- or more importantly, the reason why the corporate-military-industrial network conglomerate wants a puppet government in Iraq -- is so that it will revert back to a dollar standard and stay that way." (While also hoping to veto any wider OPEC momentum towards the euro, especially from Iran -- the 2nd largest OPEC producer who is actively discussing a switch to euros for its oil exports)."

Thursday, February 06, 2003

Powell: Is This All You've Got to Show Us?

"If one believes everything Colin Powell said to the Security Council yesterday, one's first response ought to be that there's no reason to fight a war, since U.S. surveillance capabilities are so awesome that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) can easily be found. And one's first question should be why has the United States for over two months withheld this apparently so damaging evidence from those weapons inspectors, who could have verified conjectures and destroyed WMD stocks and production facilities.

If indeed the evidence presented is of the character claimed by Powell, then the United States has chosen to sabotage UN Security Council Resolution 1441, clause 10 of which "Requests all Member States to give full support to UNMOVIC and the IAEA in the discharge of their mandates, including by providing any information related to prohibited programmes.""


"I'm really excited by George Bush's latest reason for bombing Iraq: he's running out of patience. And so am I!

For some time now I've been really pissed off with Mr Johnson, who lives a couple of doors down the street. Well, him and Mr Patel, who runs the health food shop. They both give me queer looks, and I'm sure Mr Johnson is planning something nasty for me, but so far I haven't been able to discover what. I've been round to his place a few times to see what he's up to, but he's got everything well hidden. That's how devious he is.

As for Mr Patel, don't ask me how I know, I just know - from very good sources - that he is, in reality, a Mass Murderer. I have leafleted the street telling them that if we don't act first, he'll pick us off one by one.

Some of my neighbours say, if I've got proof, why don't I go to the police? But that's simply ridiculous. The police will say that they need evidence of a crime with which to charge my neighbours.

They'll come up with endless red tape and quibbling about the rights and wrongs of a pre-emptive strike and all the while Mr Johnson will be finalising his plans to do terrible things to me, while Mr Patel will be secretly murdering people. Since I'm the only one in the street with a decent range of automatic firearms, I reckon it's up to me to keep the peace. But until recently that's been a little difficult. Now, however, George W. Bush has made it clear that all I need to do is run out of patience, and then I can wade in and do whatever I want! "
(from metafilter)

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

This is from Atrios:

Transcript of Powell's U.N. presentation

I haven't read the whole thing yet, but it seems to me that he made a very good argument for continuing inspections, no?

This is from cnn's "key points"

This picture is a satellite photo, Powell said, that indicates the presence of "active chemical munitions bunkers" disguised from U.N. weapons inspectors.

Hey, they could just give the inspectors this photo! They are not "disguised" if we have pictures with the buildings circled! How stupid do they think we are?

Monday, February 03, 2003

More proof that Bush is, indeed, a complete idiot.

Bush Budget: Aliens May Be Out There

"Where Are the Real Space Aliens? ...Perhaps the notion that 'there's something out there' is closer to reality than we have imagined..."